Staff Spotlight: Becky Whitlow
DMARC Food Pantry Network Director since 2012, Becky Whitlow has over 20 years experience in product merchandising, warehouse operations, and distribution of hard goods. An expert in building community collaborations and customer relationships, Becky has experience managing $500,000-$1.5 million in product inventory, purchasing, and redistribution operations, and was instrumental in the design of the warehouse facility at 1435 Mulberry Street.
With a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration – Marketing and a Sociology minor, she oversees the daily operations of the DMARC Food Pantry Network, assisting 55,000 people annually, and has been invaluable to the growth of the system. Becky is a gifted speaker and regularly presents to faith, civic and student groups about food access needs in Greater Des Moines, and the work of the Food Pantry Network.
Family is everything to Becky, and she enjoys doing all kinds of activities with her kids and grandson. Becky became a grandma in September 2018, and she frequently makes trips to visit her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson in the Washington, DC area. Facetiming with her grandson has become an almost daily part of her life. Becky and her daughter, Jackie, have season football tickets to the Iowa Hawkeyes, and spend their Saturdays in the fall cheering them on.
What drew you to DMARC originally, and how has it changed since then?
I was a teenager when DMARC first started the Food Pantry Network. My church and my parents were involved with DMARC and I naturally was pulled into doing food drives, fundraising events and volunteering for DMARC. During the next 35 years I periodically volunteered with DMARC and watched the organization change and develop as needs changed in our community. In 2012, when the opportunity arose to join the staff at DMARC, I was thrilled to become an employee of an organization that I truly believed in.
What do you like most about working at DMARC?
There are many things that I like about working at DMARC, but what I like the most is that I feel I am making a real difference in my community. The second thing I like is the culture at DMARC. No matter what position you hold your opinion counts. New ideas and solutions can come from any staff and the credit is given where credit is due. Dreaming big is encouraged. We all work as a team to get the mission done.
What is your proudest moment at DMARC?
There are lots of proud moments, moving into our current building, the launch of the Mobile Food Pantry and Refuel station, but my proudest moment would be in my second full year at DMARC. After 6 months of working at DMARC I was a little horrified at the prices we were paying for the food we were purchasing. I proposed to Sarai Rice, DMARC executive director at the time, that we explore different purchasing options. After the first year of purchasing in bulk from wholesalers, we ran the food cost numbers and realized we had saved over $230,000 over the old way of purchasing. That allowed us to assist our increasing number of pantry visitors without an increase in the food budget.
What’s a fun fact about yourself that others might not be aware of?
While I am an optimist, a half-full kind of person, I enjoy doomsday, horror and supernatural kinds of movies and shows.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I play the harp. I like to arrange my own music. I also would like to someday publish a song that I composed.
Before working at DMARC, what’s the most interesting job you’ve ever had?
Before I worked at DMARC I worked for a book and magazine wholesaler. I was responsible for the ordering and distribution of books to retail stores. This gave me the opportunity to work with publishers, meet authors occasionally, and get advanced copies of books before they ever hit the shelves. I love books, so I always found it exciting to see what was being released. I also got to take home complimentary copies of books, comic books, and sports cards. My company also distributed movies and allowed employees to check movies out for free over the weekend. This was a huge hit with my kids. I am sure they got way too much screen time when they were little.
Where is your favorite place in the world to be?
When I was a child my grandparents had a house at Lake Okoboji. My favorite thing to do would be to sit at the end of the dock on a calm night, with my feet dangling in the water, watching the moonlight shimmer on the water, and listen to the gentle waves patting against the rocks on the shore. It is still my peaceful place.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I remember in 2nd grade saying I wanted to be a social worker because I wanted to help people.
If you could use one famous movie line to describe yourself, what would it be?
“Just keep swimming.” – Finding Nemo