Carol Herndon hands in the reins as Food for Thought’s executive director

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 16, 2017

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — Carol Herndon is stepping down after serving more than two years as executive director of Food for Thought. In July, she will begin work as chief financial officer for Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

Food for Thought is a nonprofit group that provides backpack meals for students in need to take home each Friday.

“This work is a huge part of my heart,” Herndon said.

Herndon and Food for Thought board President Erin Wood said the change will not affect or interrupt the nonprofit group’s services.

“We will not release this mission,” said Wood. “It is our primary focus to maintain service to the children of our community. This transition should in no way signal that our dedication to those least fortunate among us is in any way wavering.”

Herndon will oversee Food for Thought until she begins her new job July 24 or until a transition has been made. She said she is grateful to Rowan-Salisbury Schools for supporting her desire to ensure a smooth transition at Food for Thought.

“I’m in it until the point comes that we are comfortable I can pull out, but not really a second before then,” she said.

“Even in this time of change, Carol has been very intentional in pursing one of our primary goals — which has been continuing our growth into the community,” Wood said.

Herndon, 55, said she began thinking about making a change as high school graduations neared. Her daughter graduated from West Rowan High School on June 10 and will be going to college in the fall.

“And we are facing an empty nest,” Herndon said. “And I had started to wonder what that might look like for me.”

Over the past two years, she has helped Food for Thought grow from an organization that served 280 to 300 children to more than 600 weekly in the 2016-17 school year.

She’s pleased with the work but said she felt she had done what she could with the organization.

“That gave me some comfort that maybe I should start to think about doing something more full time,” she said.

Though Herndon said she wasn’t “looking for a new job right out of the gate,” the CFO position came open and friends encouraged her to apply. She gained insight of the school system while working with Food for Thought and said she saw an opportunity to make a difference.

Because of Food for Thought’s rapid growth, Wood said the board is looking at a few different options and potential reorganization. One option, she said, is to hire a new executive director. But the organizational model of a single, part-time employee might not fit the nonprofit group’s new size.

“It’s obvious from all angles that she’s been acting as a full-time director,” Wood said of Herndon.

Herndon said she has “great peace” about her decision and the success of the transition. She expressed her thanks to the board and to the volunteers who help Food for Thought complete its mission each week.

“It is impossible for me to really summarize my gratitude for so many serving souls that make this work possible on a weekly basis,” she said.

And she plans to stay involved in Food for Thought as a volunteer or in any capacity she can.

“It will always be the most rewarding work I’ve ever done,” she said.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.