Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Development Team Driving Significant Organization Growth

  • Staff added in individual, corporate and foundation giving.
  • Increasing number of hungry Hoosiers and opportunities to incorporate more nutrient rich fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy into food distributions lead to increased funding needs.

Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana has announced a new team of development and communications staff. The need for additional staff is a direct result of increased programming.

“Gleaners has made a strategic decision to move aggressively toward feeding more hungry Hoosier families – particularly children and seniors,” said John Elliott, President/CEO of Gleaners. “Capacity and programming expanded thoughtfully as we worked to determine best practices for our delivery models. We’re now at the point where the funding capacity has to catch up to support further program expansion.”

Funding needs impact all areas of the organization. There is a waiting list for children on the popular BackSacks Weekend Food for Kids program, as well as schools waiting for opportunities to open their own school based pantries. “Children’s programs are the most popular, of course, but we see increasing needs across the board with seniors, veterans and working families all relying on our services and our agency partners like never before,” he added.

To meet the growing need – and in some respects to maintain existing capacity – additional funding is required. That led to the need to hire additional staff.

“The Board and senior leadership have planned for this over the past several months, but I think we have all been pleased with the quality of seasoned professionals we have been able to attract , resulting in a strong team with an overall sense of urgency for our compelling mission to feed the hungry” Elliott said.

The most recent addition to the development team is Gail Lowry, Senior Director of Philanthropy, Individual and Planned Gifts. Lowry served as Franklin College’s Vice President of Development and Alumni Engagement from 2012 until January 2017. Prior to working at the college, she served over 22 years for U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar in various capacities:  executive director for his Indiana office, campaign manager and fundraising director.  She also served U.S. Sen. Dan Coats’ campaigns in 1990 and 1992 as assistant finance director and finance director respectively.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Evansville, where she was a member of the Division I volleyball team.  Gail also earned credits toward a master’s in secondary education at The George Washington University. She and her husband, Stuart, have two daughters, Annalise (22) and Juliette (19).

“I’m thrilled to focus my work in philanthropy for Gleaners and those we serve so the acute needs of hunger are addressed in order to empower self and civic development,” Lowry said. “We are exceedingly grateful to the Lilly Endowment for their remarkable grant which recognizes the activist vision of Gleaners’ leadership in tandem with our agency partners.   My tenure with Senator Lugar afforded me the chance to support his work on the Senate Hunger Caucus and, having served on the Indianapolis school board early in his public service career, he underscored how critical food security is for the health and welfare of our citizens.  When you ensure hunger and health needs are met, families, learning, and workforce development can flourish.”     

The development team is structured around 4 key areas: corporate partnerships, communications and digital fundraising, foundation grants, and individual giving. In addition to Lowry, new team members have been added in each key area. They include:

Debbie Dreiband, Director of Corporate PartnershipsDebbie has 32 years’ experience in the sponsorship, fundraising, event management and community relations/volunteer sector working in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. For the past 19 years she was with Live Nation as the Senior Director of Sponsorship Sales managing the Indiana State Fair Commission’s sponsorship program. “Gleaners has the full package to offer our corporate partners; event sponsorships, volunteer opportunities, employee engagement in food and fund drives, and more. We’re excited to work with area businesses and organizations to develop long-term, comprehensive partnerships,” said Dreiband.

Alexandra McMahon, Manager of Corporate Partnerships – Alexandra joins the revitalized corporate partnerships team after a 6 year stint at the American Heart Association where she served as Senior Corporate Events Director and most recently, oversaw the highly successful Heart Walk. “I find nonprofit work rewarding,” she said, adding that at Gleaners, she is able to directly see the impact her work has on the mission of the organization.

Sarah Estell, Director of Marketing and Digital Fundraising - Joining Gleaners in August, Estell oversees media and messaging for the organization, as well as direct mail and online fundraising initiatives. “Our role is to be the voice of the voiceless,” said Estell. “We want to tell the stories of those we serve in a respectful way that puts the faces of hunger front and center.” Her prior work includes more than 20 years in healthcare marketing, most recently with Riverview Health in Noblesville. She attended the University of Evansville and lives in Fishers with her husband Greg and son Henry.

Alex Holland, Digital Marketing Coordinator - Alex is a graduate of Purdue University’s Photography and Related Media Program, with a certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the Krannert School of Management. Her work includes creation of marketing collateral for a wide variety of campaigns in the form of digital and print through design, photography, email events and social media.

Max Browning, Grants Development Coordinator -   A graduate of Ball State University with a degree in Organizational Communications Studies, Browning joined Gleaners after completing an internship with Second Harvest Food Bank. Max works with Foundations throughout our 21-county service area to increase critical funding for Gleaners’ programs. “I’m most excited about learning the needs of our rural counties and identifying funding opportunities to allow us to reach more people in these areas,” he said.

The new staff members join a strong compliment of seasoned professionals who have served Gleaners for a number of years. They are:

Debbie Russell, Director of Donor Engagement -  Russell has been part of Gleaners’ development team for over 5 years, primarily engaging major individual donors.  Previously, she headed up the development teams at Second Helpings and Horizon House.  Debbie has a Certificate in Fundraising Management from the IU School of Philanthropy.

Teresa Young, Donor Engagement Manager - Teresa joined Gleaners four years ago to coordinate Gleaners’ participation in Feeding America’s Hunger in America study.  At the completion of that project she joined the development team as Donor Engagement Manager.  Teresa holds a BA from Indiana University, an MBA from Butler University and a Certification in Fundraising Management (CFRM).

Robert Wilson, Director of Foundation Relations – The foundation grants program is led by Wilson, the most senior member of the development team and a highly respected resource not just at Gleaners, but across the national Feeding America Network. “Over my 22 years at Gleaners, I’ve seen our food distribution model change significantly from distributing non-perishable items from food drives, to actually purchasing items at a fraction of the cost,” said Wilson. “The opportunity to impact more Hoosier families, particularly children, is one of the most gratifying parts of my job.” Robert has served in a variety of capacities including operations manager from 1998 to 2005. For the last eleven years, he has worked with the development team, most recently as Director of Foundation Relations.

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About Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Inc.

On a yearly basis, hundreds of thousands of hungry Hoosiers depend on food and other critical grocery products provided by Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana. Gleaners supplies items to hunger relief agencies and schools throughout 21 counties in central and southeast Indiana.

Gleaners was founded in 1980 and is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network. Since its inception, Gleaners has distributed over 436 million pounds of food and critical grocery products to over 260 hunger relief agencies serving needy Hoosiers. In addition to food distribution to hunger relief agencies, Gleaners serves our most vulnerable populations - seniors, veterans and children - through specialty programs such as the BackSacks: Weekend Food for KidsSchool-Based PantryMobile PantrySummer Meals for Kids, and Senior Hunger Initiative Programs. To learn more, visit gleaners.org.