5 years as Chair of Hot Bread Kitchen

hbkAbout 6 years ago I was introduced to Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez the founder and visionary behind Hot Bread Kitchen.  We were going to have an hour coffee and it turned into over two hours.  Her entrepreneurial spirit and social conscious pulled me in.  I was just learning how to say no but Jessamyn convinced me to say yes.  I joined her board.  She realized that she needed a first time board chair because the law says she can not be the Chair and the Executive Director and she looked to me.  I stepped up to the plate and have chaired HBK for the last 5+ years.  Jessamyn wrote a really thought post that you can read here.

ladiesIt has been an incredible experience.  One of the things I told Jessamyn at the very beginning is that I want you to think of this non-profit socially conscious venture as a profit business.  That is what I know and if you look at it like that it changes the game.  Hiring a senior team after doing everything yourself is tough for any entrepreneur.  Over the past 5 years Jessamyn got married and had two children.  It was the best thing that ever happened.  It forced her to hire a senior team she could rely on.  It also taught her work and life balance.

incubator moreThere was one time that financially it was tight.  I saw it coming.  I stood back for awhile before stepping up to the plate to get us over that hump.  It was a big turning moment in the trajectory of the organization.  We now know much more about the business down to the gross margin on each piece of bread that goes out the door.  We have partnered with the EDC overseeing a food incubator that has been a tremendous success the companies and people who have come through.  They are all essentially powered by HBK.

hbkbreadandcookThe last board meeting I went to was pretty perfect.  It started on time and ended on time.  There were presentations by the senior staff which were all impressive.  They had all achieved what they wanted to over the past year and their results were making an impact.  I said to Jessamyn after the meeting “we finally got there”.  She looked me and said “you are done aren’t you”?   The answer was yes.

loavesHBK reached a place where I felt my job was done.  Now it is time to bring on the next Chairperson.  A person who can take the organization to the next level.  I am a foundation builder and that is set.  I am thrilled that Diana Taylor is filling my shoes.  I couldn’t think of any other person who would be more perfect for the job.  I feel insanely proud of what has been accomplished over the past 5 years and am excited about the future because Jessamyn and Diana is a powerful combination.

These photos are of the bakery this past week.  I wish I could just capture the aroma.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Lisa Abeyta

    As the CEO, I dread finding a new chairperson when the time comes, because ours has been a rock, a wealth of wisdom and a peace keeper. He has been my confidant, and I trust his advice. Trying to find that again will be hard. But more than dreading the process of replacement, I deeply respect a chairperson who makes it easy for the team to make that transition, who doesn’t hang on for love of the position over love of the company. Kudos to you for being that kind of a leader!

  2. jason wright

    over the five years how many hours of your time were spent sitting in the hot chair?

    1. Gotham Gal

      good question. not sure but i have always been available…and it seemed to work.

  3. awaldstein

    Congrats on a job well done.Nothing more to say and that is saying a lot!

    1. Gotham Gal


  4. pointsnfigures

    congrats. biggest hump for “charitable social enterprises” or museums is to be self sustaining. It’s a big hump. I love this software for charity boards. http://www.streamlinksoftwa