Food for Greater Elgin executive director leaving in February
The executive director of Food For Greater Elgin said she will be leaving in February, two years after she was hired, to pursue other work opportunities.
"Food For Greater Elgin will always have a special place with me," said Shelia Jackson, who lives in Aurora. "It was a very tough decision for me to make, because I'm so drawn to our mission. But I want to see what else is out there. I feel like I've done a lot here, and I think it's time to move on."
Jackson's last day is Feb. 7. Michael Montgomery will become interim executive director while the board conducts a search for a permanent hire.
Montgomery is serving as interim minister at First Congregational Church of Elgin. He'll be done with that assignment in mid-January, and his first day at the food pantry will be Jan. 20.
The pantry's board of directors released a statement saying it is grateful for Jackson's leadership and wished her "all the best in her next endeavor."
"Food For Greater Elgin has made tremendous progress under her direction: increased access to the pantry, expanded mobile distributions to the elderly and homeless, and weekly distribution to clients, all in an effort to stabilize the lives of those in need," the release said. "In addition, Jackson has built a tremendous team of staff members that will be invaluable during this transition."
The pantry at 1553 Commerce Drive serves more than 1,600 households monthly in Elgin, South Elgin, East Dundee and West Dundee. Besides the executive director, there are four full-time staff members and two part-timers.
Under Jackson's leadership, clients, or "guests," started to be able to shop weekly, instead of twice a month. The pantry was transformed to have more of a grocery store feel, with food neatly arranged on shelves and aisles organized by category.
There's also a mobile pantry serving seniors and the homeless. Jackson said help from Elgin police was invaluable in starting the service for the homeless.
There are limitless possibilities for Food for Greater Elgin, particularly in terms of establishing more community partnerships, Jackson said.
Jackson said she gave notice without having a job lined up because she wanted to give the board time to start planning for the future.
"I'm confident I will be able to find something," she said. "Since it all has come out, I've got so many people reaching out to me with opportunities that I could potentially look at or look for. I am very, very humbled at how many people are shocked (at me leaving) or how many people are offering me well-wishes."