General Description: Nearly 500,000 children across Illinois continue to cope with poverty and hunger which can impede their cognitive, social, and emotional development. The ambition of ending childhood hunger requires a new roadmap, big shifts, bold goals and unprecedented leadership from both the public and private sector. One of our most important collaborations to reduce poverty and hunger is through our partnership with the State of Illinois. Evidence-based research has proven that state government-administered nutrition, health, safety net and other benefit programs help unleash the potential of individuals and stabilize the lives of entire families.
To that end, the State Agency Engagement & Family Policy Innovation Lead will, on behalf of the Food Depository as well as the broader community, partner with the Governor’s Office and state agencies to introduce new innovations and efficiencies to help remove administrative policy barriers in how families connect to programs. This role will collaborate with key state agencies including the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). Through engagement with these agencies, this role seeks to improve children and family participation in key programs, including but not limited to Child Nutrition (SFSP – summer Meals, CACFP – afterschool meals), SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, and other stabilizing income supports.
This role will understand State of Illinois operations and government agency relations, including how policy solutions are advanced. Although the role is based at the Food Depository, the position will spend time operating out of DHS and other state agencies in parts of Cook County and Springfield. Additionally, the role will bring an unparalleled community-level understanding of the barriers families face in connecting to programs including the landscape of public, nonprofit, and private partners needed to inform new innovations.
Key Responsibilities and Essential Functions:
Lead and facilitate the work of the Illinois Commission to End Hunger through the creation of a multi-year plan to realize a State of Illinois-wide vision to reduce childhood hunger and poverty and improve overall family well-being. This multi-year plan will be known as the Illinois Roadmap to End Childhood Hunger.
Drive interagency input, alignment, accountability, and delivery of the plan, while serving as the liaison between the Governor’s Office, key state agencies, the Food Depository, and the broader community of stakeholders committed to improving public policies that impact family well-being.
Inform the plan through national best practices from other states that have successfully introduced new innovations and efficiencies to help remove barriers in how families connect to nutrition programs.
Support the Illinois to Commission to End Hunger and leverage national thought leaders including but not limited to the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, Feeding America, and Share Our Strength to help shape innovation opportunities.
Serve as the primary project manager on the creation and advancement of policies and administrative innovations that will increase access to nutrition, health, safety net, and other benefit programs. Establish annual goals, performance metrics, plans, timelines, and assessment and reporting mechanisms to ensure execution and impact measurement of new policies and innovations in partnership with the Governor’s Office and state agencies.
Maximize Illinois resident enrollment in federal programs including Child Nutrition Programs (school breakfast, summer meals, afterschool meals) as well as SNAP, WIC, and health programs.
Prepare fact sheets, research briefs, policy papers, reports, talking points, statements, and other written materials as needed.
Build strong, effective collaborations with internal Food Depository programmatic colleagues working to implement nutrition, health, safety net and other benefit programs.
Minimum of 10 years of work experience with a proven track record in public policy, state government administration, and program management.
Proven experience building transformational relationships with state government, other diverse stakeholders and the communities most impacted by nutrition, health, safety net, and other benefit programs.
Demonstrable experience in developing and implementing strategic plans in the private, government, or nonprofit sectors around the areas of health, child and family nutrition. Understanding of the complexities of poverty and the intersectional with hunger and other social determinants of family well-being.
Entrepreneurial leader with significant creative capacity and flexibility who can be highly successful with minimal supervision.
Superior strategist, with robust analytical/problem solving skills, organizational agility, political savvy, strong interpersonal judgment and the ability to manage high levels of ambiguity.
Excellent interpersonal and communication skills (both verbal and written), including strong presentation skills and emotional intelligence.
Outstanding record of generating buy-in from, and exceeding expectations of internal and external stakeholders.
Ability to effectively and efficiently manage complex projects and work with limited supervision.
Flexibility to regularly travel to Springfield and to state government offices across Cook County.
Proficiency in MS Office-Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Outlook.
Office located at the Food Depository with additional office space at DHS
Normal office environment; some warehouse environment
Significant out of office meetings
Primary interactions with the Governor’s Office and state agencies (e.g. DHS, ISBE, HFS); nonprofit, private sector, and community leaders
About Greater Chicago Food Depository
The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank, is a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community. The Food Depository, founded in 1979, makes a daily impact across Cook County with a network of 700 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, mobile programs, children’s programs, older adult programs and innovative responses that address the root causes of hunger. Last year, the Food Depository distributed nearly 70 million pounds of shelf-stable food, fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 159,000 meals every day.