Sellent to remain CEO as state’s only food bank takes innovative steps to prepare for the future
FARGO, N.D. – As the Great Plains Food Bank looks toward the future and to a rapidly changing landscape in its work to end hunger, the organization has named Melissa Sobolik as its new president, which took effect July 1.
With the promotion and change in leadership structure, Sobolik will serve alongside long-time Chief Executive Officer Steve Sellent, splitting her time between external relations of the organization and continuing to lead the efforts of Ending Hunger 2.0, where she was serving as director. Sellent will continue to oversee internal functions and the overall strategic direction and work of the organization.
“We are in the midst of a truly transformative period for our organization and this move will position us to take the next big step in ending hunger,” Sellent said. “While I still plan to serve as the organization’s CEO, we have a bold goal to end hunger by 2037 that will only be accomplished by innovative and courageous ideas and leaders. While we continue to expand services statewide and develop new ways to address hunger, we also need to develop additional resources and new partnerships. I am thrilled to have Melissa by my side in leading the organization to continued success.”
Sobolik has served the Great Plains Food Bank in multiple roles for more than a decade. She spent eight years as the director of agency and client services, overseeing the statewide network of partner agencies and launching the organization’s first direct service programs, like the Mobile Food Pantry and BackPack Program. For the past three years, she has served as the director of Ending Hunger 2.0, the Great Plains Food Bank’s next bold step in ending hunger by addressing its root causes through advocacy, research and new solutions. She has advocated on behalf of clients to bring smart policy forward, has engaged healthcare partners in hunger relief efforts and has shed light on the interconnectedness of hunger and its many root causes.
“I am incredibly honored and excited to help move our organization and this important work into the future,” Sobolik said. “I’m thankful to Steve and our board of directors for having trust in my abilities to help take this organization to the next level. We have a lot of great work to celebrate and even more on the horizon as we work toward a hunger free North Dakota and western Minnesota. I’m looking forward to all that we are going to accomplish by working together.”
The new leadership structure was approved by the Great Plains Food Bank Board of Directors earlier this year. As part of its ongoing succession planning work, the Board of Directors observed the growing trend and effectiveness of having a dual leadership model at other food banks and non-profits, allowing for a focus on building new and expanded relationships with donors, partners and other stakeholders.
“Having a staff member with Melissa’s skills and abilities allowed us to move forward with this new leadership structure at a key time in the organization’s history,” Great Plains Food Bank Board of Directors Chair Nancy Johnson said. “We have the utmost confidence in both Steve and Melissa to lead our organization to a future where no one in our community or state goes hungry.”
About the Great Plains Food Bank
Now it its 36th year, the Great Plains Food Bank serves as North Dakota’s only food bank. Its partner network includes 213 food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, and other charitable feeding programs operating in 99 communities across N.D. and Clay County, Minn. Since 1983, the Great Plains Food Bank, through its partners and programs, have distributed more than 170 million meals to hungry children, seniors, and families in need. The Great Plains Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network and was named the Not-for-Profit of the Year for 2018 by the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.