Heather Schlesinger, chief marketing officer of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, was recognized by the American Marketing Association’s “Marketer For Good” award at its 62nd annual ceremony on March 21 at The Fairmont in Atlanta.
The food bank, which was founded in 1979, is among the largest hunger relief organizations in the Southeast. Now celebrating its 40th birthday, more than 61 million meals were distributed to families in metro Atlanta and North Georgia.
Schlesinger is a native Atlantan and a member of Congregation Beth Shalom in Duwnoody and Shalom b’Harim in Dahlonega. She has been with the food bank for two years and said she was completely caught off guard by the award.
“I actually did not even know that I’d been nominated,” she said. “I am so incredibly honored and grateful. … To me it is tikkun olam – the entire reason I left corporate America.”
She added that, as a mother, it was unfathomable that children in her Atlanta community go hungry, especially when hunger is “completely solvable.”
With 7-year-old twins, she said that just two years ago they would have said that their mother, “‘creates yummy food like milkshakes and fries and does those TV commercials with the songs.’”
But today, her children see her work a little differently.
“They will tell you that, ‘Mommy feeds children just like us that do not have food to eat,’” she said. “When I got home from the award ceremony and they saw my ‘trophy’ as they call it, it showed that their mommy’s work mattered.”
Schlesinger has launched several “Day of Service” events, including Summer Dish, Noche Buena Dish, and Lawmakers’ Dish, which invite leaders from different communities to come together and serve.
While she was the one recognized, she was sure to share the praise with the 167 food bank coworkers who inspire her.
“We change lives every single day with our work, and being the person who gets to lead the team that educates, advocates and markets our brand story is incredibly rewarding,” she said. “I actually love being out in the community where I can see the impact of our work.”
As for what to expect in the future from the ACFB, Schlesinger said it was a very exciting time for her, citing the food bank’s new campus, which will allow triple the volume of food. She also shared her team’s newest project, “The Hunger Monster.”
“It is a wonderful animation project that we have been working on for over a year and a half with two amazing agencies: Awesome Inc. and 22squared,” she said. “They both donated their time and resources. … The villain in the animated campaign is a monster called Hun Ger and we are excited to share this campaign with the community!”