Sequim Food Bank has a new leader.
Mark Ozias stepped into his role as executive director on June 14, learning the ropes previously held by Stephen Rosales, interim director and board president.
He won out over 22 applicants and was “head and shoulders over the other candidates,” Rosales said.
Christine Paulsen, the food bank’s board secretary, said she and others are happy they found the right, local fit.
“We’re excited to find someone who met all the criteria in an executive director and to find it in someone already established in the community is wonderful,” she said.
Those qualities, she said, include a history with fundraising, compassion and a desire to feed people.
“He just came to the table with such a positive attitude and he doesn’t hesitate to get his hands dirty,” Paulsen said. “It’s a job that requires a lot of heart, which he has.”
Ozias most recently opened The Red Rooster Grocery with his wife, Lisa Boulware, in April 2010. Prior to that, he served as director of the Sequim Open Aire Market for nearly four years and before that he worked in the nonprofit sector developing funds.
His current business will remain open, which he said was the plan all along.
“We’ve been actively trying to build staff so I could work,” Ozias said. “This is an ideal match particularly since it’s food-related.”
He’ll continue to make soups there and serve as co-owner.
At the food bank, Ozias said he believes in its mission and plans to keep its current hours and operations going strong.
“I’m thrilled to be here and see the pieces are already working well,” Ozias said. “My hope is to see it continuing to remain stable for the long-term.”
As the only paid employee, Ozias will lead more than 40 volunteers. In the future, he plans to hire a food truck driver.
Ozias comes in as executive director for Rosales, who took over as interim executive director in November 2009 following the resignation of longtime director Nina Fatherson. She cited differences with Rosales over operations. In Rosales’ tenure, he helped incorporate a third day opening for the food bank while seeing an increase in families served.
Rosales said his role was intended only to be interim, but now he needs time off for medical reasons. He approached the board to find a permanent director but he intends to remain the board president and volunteer on Saturdays with a core of youth volunteers.
This year, Rosales said, they’ve been serving about 300 families a week within the Sequim School District boundaries. Rosales said the number of food bank users has leveled off compared to last year’s demand.
Rosales said demand remains high year-round, though, particularly at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Looking ahead, Ozias said one of his long-term goals is to connect with more local food producers to partner with the food bank.
Soon, the food bank is switching over to making orders online from in-house on a donated computer from Sequim PC Users and with free Internet from OlyPen. Ozias said making the orders on-site makes sense and saves time.
The Sequim Food Bank, 144 W. Alder St., is open 9 a.m.-noon Monday, Friday and Saturday and can be reached at 683-1205.