Nancy Pagani is “learning and absorbing” after stepping into her new role as the Surrey Food Bank’s executive director.
“It’s been a fabulous experience so far and it’s only been, what, four days,” Pagani told the Now-Leader during her first week.
She said she could already see “how grateful folks are and how important it is that we’re here for them and what a difference it’s making in their lives.
“That is why I’m here.”
Pagani comes to the Surrey Food Bank after with a 20-year-long career in the non-profit sector already under her belt.
Pagani replaces interim executive director June Gambrel, who took on the role after Feezah Jaffer left the food bank.
Pagani has previously worked as the director of operations of the Delta Hospice Society, the director of development and operations at Mood Disorders Association of BC and the executive director at both Langley Hospice Society and Avalon Recovery Society.
Pagani said she started her career in fundraising and marketing, then worked her way up in various organizations, “mainly in health (services).”
She also worked in the Downtown Eastside in social services.
“That really spoke volumes to me and was somewhere where I felt comfortable. It was where I wanted to be and I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed that experience and love that community,” Pagani explained.
“For me, it’s helping out those less fortunate and seeing how much it does make a difference. Health can be a very frustrating field to be in and sometimes you feel like you’re treading water and can’t go anywhere.”
Asked if she has any goals already in her new role, Pagani said the overall vision, goal and mission is to “ensure that we are a nourished and thriving community” – and one that’s also free of poverty.
“It’s a long goal. It’s a big ambition, but I think it’s one that over time we can certainly achieve and I want to be a part of that. I want to be a part of helping this community in any way that I possibly can.”
In the short term, Pagani said she wants to just get out into the community and meet people.
But she’s no stranger to the community.
“This is my community and it’s important to me. For the first time, I guess, in my career, in my working life, I have the opportunity to finally work in my own community,” noted Pagani, who lives in Surrey but raised her children in North Delta.
The Surrey Food Bank helps individuals and families who live in Surrey and North Delta by providing bi-weekly food hampers to its clients.
“To be there for my own community just means so much to me.”