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Marylou Borowiak

Staff members and volunteers at the Food Bank of Western New York don’t have to look far to find a role model for hard work, dedication and honest-to-goodness inspiration. That commitment starts right at the top with Marylou Borowiak, the Food Bank’s president and CEO.

“I’ve never met someone with so much passion. She bleeds Food Bank colors, green and white,” said Tom Berical, CPA, chairman of the Food Bank’s board of directors. “She is looked up to by the staff and the management there, and she has developed a great team to carry the Food Bank through the growth of these past few years.”

Borowiak has held the top job with the Food Bank since 2008, taking charge just as the Great Recession began tightening its grip on the national economy. Before becoming president and CEO, she was a Food Bank board member and chairwoman, its volunteer of the year and a top executive with Greater Buffalo Savings Bank.

The huge nonprofit supplies food to a total of 330 member agencies to help feed the hungry in Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. Together, they provide 15.3 million pounds of food to feed 106,000 individuals every month.

Leading by example, Borowiak has kept the focus of her organization solidly on the people who need it most: the individuals whose financial challenges threaten to overwhelm them. The working poor. The recently unemployed. Seniors. People with disabilities. Children. She understands that the Food Bank’s mission goes much deeper than filling empty stomachs. She will tell you that it also fills an emotional need for people who are struggling to make ends meet, to maintain their dignity and to get on their feet. Many recipients need only a little help through the tough times, and that is when Borowiak, her staff and hundreds of volunteers make all the difference.

“She has that personal touch that takes time and dedication. She does a great job getting the right people in the right place, and reaching people who can make a difference,” Berical said. “She is an amazing person.”

– Melinda Miller