Harry Chapin Food Bank looking for a new leader

FORT MYERS, Fla – The head of one of the most respected charities in Southwest Florida is stepping down.

After eight years as CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank, Al Brislain is leaving the non-profit to run another food bank in California.

Brislain came to the food bank in 2007 right before the recession hit.

“The first day I thought ‘oh, this is going to be tougher than I thought it would be,’ and it turned out to be much tougher with the recession.”

That’s when Brislain spearheaded an effort to move the agency to a bigger location. They left their warehouse on Alicia Street in Fort Myers, for a much larger facility on Fowler Street.

Board Chairman, Keith Scoggins says that allowed the agency to multiply the amount of food it distributed every year.

“A year after he got here we’ve gone from giving 4 million pounds of food to our partner agencies in Southwest Florida, to last year, delivering 19 million pounds of food.”

Brislain has also garnered many accolades in his eight year tenure at the food bank. He was named one of the Best Bosses in Southwest Florida by Gulfshore Business magazine, and was nominated as a Person of the Year by the Fort Myers News-Press.

While flattered, Brislain says it’s the people around him that deserve the credit.

“It makes me feel proud of the organization. I’m just one of a whole lot of people that make this happen. I try not to let it go to my head because I know it’s our board, our volunteers, our community, it’s our partnership with WINK, it’s all these things coming together to make a successful organization and sometimes I get credit for what hundreds of other people are doing.”

Under Brislain’s leadership, The Harry Chapin Food Bank has been named a top charity by Charity Navigator. Earning 4 stars, the non-profit’s top rating, for six consecutive years. Brislain says it’s important that 97 cents of every dollar donated to the agency goes to feed hungry families.

“I’m proud of the organization, I’m proud of who we are and I think we’re poised for success.”

The Harry Chapin Food Bank is currently looking for a new CEO for the agency, but admits the successor will have big shoes to fill. Joyce Jacobs has worked for the food bank for 25 years, she says, “Al really took us to the next level, and made it happen in our community. He made it a stronger organization so more families could be fed.”