Lisa Pino’s intention always was to enter public service upon graduation from law school at Arizona State University, and she has done so in many different arenas.
She worked in law, housing, education, labor, employment and immigration, helping thousands of individuals in New York, Arizona and California. Then nearly five years ago the Obama Administration came calling and suddenly Pino’s attention turned to food source and nutrition.
Pino, who this week was announced as the next United Food Bank of Arizona president and CEO, served 4 1/2 years in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, most recently as the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Civil Rights.
“My passion is really helping people, and how you can help someone comes in very different forms,” said Pino, whose work for the USDA included serving on the Council for Native American Ranchers and Farmers and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. “How I got to the food side of things is something that evolved. But how people obtain food or have enough food is really interesting. It reflects our society, the economy and so many other facets of the community. I can’t think of a better way to give back.”
Pino, who already vacated her post in Washington, will take over leadership at the food bank the first week of November. She will replace longtime president and CEO Bob Evans, who is retiring at the end of the year.
The food bank, based in Mesa, serves the East Valley and eastern Arizona, and last year provided 18 millions meals to those in need.
Pino said she will rely on the experience and knowledge gained while serving the country in running the food bank, a task that is only getting bigger every year.
“The need to feed people is becoming more pressing and more complicated,” Pino said. “The food bank delivered 22 million pounds of food last year. That was 10 percent more than the year before and it still was not enough. Arizona has a real need for more food and the state has one of the lowest rates for child food security.”
Pino, who pointed to the current lack of a national farm bill as another challenge facing all food banks, wants to not only increase the food bank’s partnerships and donation intake but also increase education so those who rely on the food bank can learn to grow their own food and get the healthiest food for their money.
“How to balance more food but also variety of food and nutrition is important for all food banks right now,” Pino said. “... My commitment is steadfast and we have a lot of work to do. I am determined to end hunger and amplify access to good nutrition for Arizona.”
Pino was selected from a national search by the food bank’s board of directors.
“Lisa’s comprehensive experience includes both direct community service as a former Arizonan and national expertise after serving the Administration in Washington as a food policy director and civil rights leader,” Bill Warren, chairman of the food back board, said in a statement. “She has the vision, passion, and knowledge to steer UFB into a new chapter.”
Pino, a New York native, earned B.A., M.A. and J.D. degrees from ASU and is a member of the Arizona Bar.
“We are so proud to welcome Lisa into the UFB family,” said Evans, who has guided the food bank for 18 of its 30 years. “I know that she will help write a new chapter in our successful 30 years of feeding people in the East Valley and eastern Arizona.”
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