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Borderstan: A Talk with Patty Stonesifer

04.24.2013

A Talk with Martha’s Table CEO Patty Stonesifer

Posted on24 April 2013. Tags: , , ,

From Joey Gavrilovich. Follow him on Twitter @joeygDC, email him at joey[AT]borderstan.com

Patty Stonesifer President and CEO of Martha’s Table. (Courtesy Martha's Table)

Patty Stonesifer, president and CEO of Martha’s Table. (Courtesy Martha’s Table)

On April 1 Patty Stonesifer began her work as president and CEO of Martha’s Table. Her appointment, announced in January, made headlines, as Ms. Stonesifer had previously served as Chair of the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents, and for close to ten years prior was the founding CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world.

Situated on the west side of 14th Street NW between W and V Streets, Martha’s Table helps more than 1,100 District residents a day through food and clothing programs and works to find sustainable solutions to poverty based in education and family support services.

Borderstan will feature a full interview with Ms. Stonesifer in May. Below are two initial questions for the nonprofit’s new CEO.

Borderstan: 14th Street NW continues to be rebuilt and redeveloped at a dizzying pace. What effect do you see all this activity having on Martha’s Table’s role in the community?

Stonesifer: Martha’s Table is as committed today to building a stronger community and breaking the cycle of poverty as we were at our founding 33 years ago. While we hold tight to that core purpose we are also organic and have always changed our programs and services to meet the changing times and changing neighborhood. We’re grateful that the newcomers to this area — retailers, restaurants and new residents — have embraced Martha’s Table, and we continue to serve many families and residents of NW with the food, clothing and quality early childcare and afterschoool and summer education programs we all want for our children.

At the same time, we are also expanding to ensure we do as much as possible to fulfill our mission and meet people where they are. We are now offering a monthly grocery distribution at four schools spread across the District and we will soon be opening a great new thrift store in Anacostia and we plan to do even more! So expect us to stay anchored in this neighborhood while addressing broader community needs in new ways.

Borderstan: Having spent more than a decade in Seattle, you’ve certainly seen your share of good food and great coffee. How do the options here in the other Washington compare?

Stonesifer: There is no easy comparison between the two Washingtons. I am very fond of both. But you know the saying “wherever you go, there you are?” In both towns I have loved my work and my colleagues even more than I loved the local restaurants. For me the best cup of coffee and by far the best late morning muffin comes from Martha’s Table’s kitchen crew. April Parker, who is an amazing cook, often slips me a bit of the best bread pudding in the city or whatever else has just come out of the oven.

When I asked her yesterday how she convinced toddlers to eat that morning’s spinach quiche she told me that they love anything shaped like a muffin. I guess that describes me too! Soon our new greenhouse will be filled with fresh produce and I look forward to joining the children who are known to pull off a ripe tomato en route to the playground. So check back with me in a few years about the local cuisine — in the meantime I will continue to love the Martha’s Table fare!