You may have seen her chasing wild turkeys or wearing a hatful of fruit, but most people who've met Ellen Lynch remember her for her abundant energy and wide smile.
Lynch, president and chief executive officer at the Food Bank For Westchester, is stepping down next spring after turning the non-profit organization into an overwhelming success.
When she wasn't spearheading local food collection drives or building key corporate connections, the effervescent Lynch could be found at area schools promoting healthy eating habits or local authors who wrote children's books about good food.
"I am proud to have taken the lead over the past three and a half years in moving the Food Bank for Westchester to a new level of professionalism and effectiveness," Lynch said in a prepared statement. "Together, we have delivered more meals, provided access to healthy food in more locations, and raised public awareness about the alarming number of people at risk of hunger in our county."
The Food Bank's Board of Directors issued a statement that said: "Ellen’s dedication and commitment to meeting the needs of people facing food insecurity in Westchester is an inspiration to everyone in this organization. Under her visionary leadership, the Food Bank for Westchester has made tremendous strides towards building a solid operating infrastructure, and raising our collective awareness about the size and scope of the hunger problem in Westchester County."
The resident of White Plains was hired as executive director of the food bank in April 2013 and ultimately president and CEO. She She previously worked as president/CEO of the Yonkers Industrial Development Agency.
Last year, the Food Bank -- Lynch often points out that it's "For Westchester" not "of Westchester" -- distributed 6.3 million meals including fresh food, produce, grain, dairy products and protein across Westchester -- collaborating with more than 300 school districts, community groups or public agencies.
Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, who joined Lynch at many Food Bank events, said, "Ellen has been terrific. She's a hard worker and motivated many to contribute and support the poor and hungry. She helped enhance the quality of life for the less fortunate. She will be missed."
Lynch said in her statement that her duties as CEO robbed her of valuable time connecting with co-workers, community partners and others in a better position to effect change.
"I’m a promoter, a marketer, and a relationship builder. I’ve been happy serving in those roles for the last 20 years of my career. I feel strongly that this is where I bring the most value," Lynch wrote.
The Food Bank's Board of Directors created a search committee to hire a successor CEO. Board Chair Maria Bronzi released this statement: "It is with regret that The Food Bank for Westchester board has accepted the resignation of Ellen Lynch as President and CEO. In order to ensure a smooth transition, Ellen has agreed to stay on over the next several months while the Board searches for new leadership. . . ."
"While we certainly regret her decision to step down as CEO, we know that she will find a new way to bring her passion for community and her talent for building effective relationships together, to make a positive impact on the quality of life experienced by people living in communities all across our county," Bronzi concluded.