Paco Vélez, president and CEO of Feeding South Florida, is pleased to announce that Sari M. Vatske has been promoted to the position of vice president of programs & initiatives for the organization. Vatske, a Boca Raton, Fla. resident, most recently served as Feeding South Florida’s director of partner services.
In her new position, Vatske’s role has been expanded to include responsibility for an increased food distribution from 29.6 million pounds in 2012 to 33 million pounds in 2013 (including a 42.6 percent increase YTD in Palm Beach County alone). This helps to set the table for the almost 1 million individuals in need, including approximately 300,000 children, the elderly and the working poor, in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.
She also now oversees sorting as part of distribution, supervises 12 employees, and works with the executive team on strategic planning. Additionally, Vatske is overseeing the Hunger in America 2014 hunger study/gap analysis for Feeding South Florida, involving a substantial amount of research and outreach. She is responsible for agency relations, client services, compliance & capability, distribution, expansion and development of programs and strategic initiatives.
In addition to working to increase the number of meals provided to those in need throughout South Florida, Vatske is striving to identify and build new agency partnerships, develop a life skills center with financial literacy classes and computer training, and establish a community kitchen to serve as a commercial meal preparation location. Her other goals include workforce development, developing a classroom for teaching individuals and families how to cook nutritious meals on a budget, and launching a seniors program and nutrition education.
She holds a Certificate in Privacy Awareness and Protecting Human Research Participantsfrom the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She is working on her Six Sigma Green Belt Certification.
Prior tojoining Feeding South Florida in July 2011,Vatske served as Florida regional manager with Share Our Strength, a national organization working to end childhood hunger in the U.S., from 2009–’11. From 2006–’08, she served as district outreach coordinator/press assistant for United States House of Representatives Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and was a nonprofit consultant for the Andy Roddick Foundation in 2008.
Vatske holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., where she was also a graduate teaching assistant; and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla.
“Sari’s passion and dedication to serving the nearly 1 million individuals struggling to put food on the table from Palm Beach County to Key West is a great asset to the community,” said Vélez. “Her leadership and commitment to improving not only the lives of others in the community, but also to the organization and its staff, is invaluable to Feeding South Florida.”
“Providing a voice for those who otherwise wouldn’t have one, and seeing the dedication and commitment of the community and Feeding South Florida staff is truly humbling. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do what I love on a daily basis and look forward to the bright future ahead,” said Vatske.
Vatske participated in the Broward County Humane Society’s Walk 4 the Animals from 2009–’11. In 2008, she was a team captain for March of Dimes, and also public relations chair for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.
Vatske is a huge New York Giants fan, and in her spare time, enjoys spending quality time with her husband and their two large rescue dogs (one is a Cane Corso Mastiff and the other is a Bloodhound mix)from the Broward Humane Society.