Jaynee Day of Second Harvest Food Bank receives CEO award

March 14, 2017

Jaynee Day of Second Harvest Food Bank receives CEO award

Second Harvest Food Bank President & CEO Jaynee Day has been named the Nashville Post CEO of the Year – the first woman and the first nonprofit CEO to receive this honor, as she explains below. Learn a bit more about Jaynee and her advice for developing leaders in this Q&A with CNM below:


1. How does it feel to be publically recognized in this way, especially as a nonprofit CEO?

I am honored and I am humbled, and I’m very excited to be representing the nonprofit community. As I understand it, I am the first woman and the first nonprofit CEO to be recognized as the Nashville Post CEO of the Year. So when they called to tell me that, I was just so excited.


2. What advice would you give to young, developing leaders in the nonprofit sector?

I would definitely want to say that it is a wonderful profession. For me, it has been my calling for my entire life. It is one that provides great rewards and allows you the ability to see the impact of your gift of service every day. It doesn’t matter what nonprofit you work in; you have the opportunity to see what you can do and understand how you can change someone’s life.

I always encourage people in the nonprofit community that you have to be very flexible and nimble, and you have to be willing to work long hours for not the best pay. But the reward is seeing the impact of the service you provide, whether that’s working with children, helping those suffering from domestic violence, or feeding hungry people.

I’ve been in nonprofit my entire life, for over 40 years. It’s all I’ve ever known and all I’ve ever done. I started working with children. You have to be passionate about the work that you do – no matter where you are working. In order to be successful, you have to be passionate about the work you do every day. If you aren’t doing something that makes you smile every day and makes you want to come in to work, then you probably aren’t in the right profession. I always encourage people to follow their dreams wherever they might take them.


3. How would your staff describe you?

They call me the Energizer bunny, because I do have a lot of energy. They would say I’m creative and that I like to think outside of the box. I like to challenge them and I like to give them responsibility and encourage them to seek out their dreams and goals. I think they think I’m a servant leader who is honest and devoted.


4. Over your time at Second Harvest Food Bank, what is an accomplishment that you are especially proud of?

I’m proud of a lot of things that have happened over the 29 years that I have been here. One of our greatest accomplishments, I would say, has been the creation of our social enterprise Project Preserve. That really came out of a necessity to be able to access more nutritious food for our clients at a time when our donations started to dwindle. Hiring the right people to get that program up and running helped to carry it forward to what it is today. So today we are producing some amazing things in our manufacturing facility and we’re feeding people here in Middle Tennessee but also all over the country in other food banks in this program. The impact of this and seeing it grow from a very small program to a large one with a great impact has made has been one of my greatest accomplishments.


5. What’s next for you and Second Harvest Food Bank?

We are in the midst of a $20 million capital campaign to retrofit our current facility and upgrade it, and to also build an additional facility in Camden, Tennessee which is part of our 46-county area. And then to build a facility or retrofit a facility in Murfreesboro as well. That’s our next biggest challenge that we’re working on and we hope to complete it in the next two years.


Click here to read the Nashville Post article about Jaynee.


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