Meet Lisa Higgins, Board Chair

By Maison Allen September 8, 2022 2:40 pm

 

How long have you been on the advisory board for Second Harvest? 
Since Spring of 2018. 

What do you do in your professional life?  
After graduating from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications, I began my career as an agricultural journalist writing for regional and national farm magazines. A series of changes led to my work as an administrator in professional theatre for 30+ years. A founding staff member of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival at DeSales University, I designed and built the marketing and communications architecture from the Festival’s inception in 1992 to successive years of record-breaking attendance before I left in 2016 to assist my husband with his business, retirementincomejournal.com.

Why did you join SHFB’s advisory board?   
I am committed to the ideals of food security and food justice as the foundation for a healthy community. Second Harvest helps to fill in the nutritional gaps that families and individuals experience in many communities in the six counties it serves. I am privileged to have this time in my life to contribute and give back to the community that has nourished me and my family for decades. “Eating is an agricultural act,” as Wendell Berry says. With the addition of The Seed Farm, Second Harvest now has the capacity to directly connect people to the land and to food in new ways—that is also a path to greater food security, greater health, and stronger, more self-sufficient families and communities. 

What do you do outside of SHFB?
As my family lives out West, I travel often to visit, especially my aging mother. My husband is recently semi-retired and together with our three adult daughters we enjoy adventuring. In addition, I am working on a memoir about growing up as the eldest of four adopted children. The working title is “The Cure for Pyromania: DNA, Adoption, and Other Love Stories.” 

What do your responsibilities look like on the Advisory Board?  
In my new role as Chair, I am responsible for advancing the mission of the food bank by working with the staff and board. At the committee level, we work to identify and address any current challenges and actively work to anticipate and plan for future challenges. As a program of Community Action of the Lehigh Valley (CALV), Second Harvest’s Advisory Board provides advice and guidance to its Associate Executive Director and to the CALV Board of Directors through Board liaisons. The Second Harvest Board also serves as an advocate and recommend policies for Second Harvest to CALV and assists in resource development including recruitment of volunteers, resource procurement, and fundraising. Working with our Vice Chair, Mike Tirrell, who has served on the board more than eight years, and Allison Czapp, Second Harvest’s new Associate Executive Director, I plan to strengthen the committee structure and services to support the staff and increase communications with CALV. 

What is something you wish everyone knew about food insecurity?  
Food insecurity impacts people who have jobs and work hard—but maybe an illness or an accident or a combination of factors have compromised their financial stability and their ability to meet all the demands on their paychecks. Food insecurity can happen fast—a wage earner suddenly must stay home and provide care for a family member for a week or more and that paycheck just isn’t enough. Food insecurity can happen slowly: the rent gets raised, the medication costs more, plus the electric bill, and gas to get to the job, and the food in the pantry gradually gets eaten and there’s not enough “extra” to replace it at the end of the month. Where there used to be that pasta and the canned goods that could tide you over is now empty space. The young and the old are most vulnerable. 

What is your greatest achievement/most rewarding highlight in your career so far?  
Although I am very proud of the work I did as a founding staff member of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival at DeSales University, the most rewarding highlight of my career is this opportunity to work alongside the staff and board of Second Harvest Food Bank. 

What do you like to do when you are not working?  
I enjoy walking with friends in Lehigh Parkway, taking Pilates classes with my husband, reading and writing. 

What book characterizes you the best?  
I have to choose a play: The Tempest by William Shakespeare. 

What is your life motto?  
Be the light. 

Where have you seen the biggest impact on the community due to SHFB’s efforts?  
I don’t know where “the biggest impact” is. In the additional thousands of pounds of food delivered during the pandemic? Is the biggest impact on the thousands of households in urban, suburban, and rural communities? In the eyes of parents whose children can sleep on a full stomach? In the hearts of military veterans who served our country? Is the biggest impact on the staff of Second Harvest itself, who have met the increased demands day in and day out, and continue to meet the increased demands and needs of our neighbors? I think the “biggest impact” is bigger than anything I know. 

What is something you wish everyone knew about hunger in America?  
My first managing editor at Michigan Farmer magazine was writing a book when she died: “Saving Civilization, One Tomato at a Time.” That’s what Second Harvest is doing day in and day out: saving civilization. Yes, one “Senior Box,” one “Military Share,” one “backpack,” one community garden, one farmer on the land, one day at a time. It’s easy to seem overwhelmed, but if you break it down to “one tomato,” it’s doable. We can send people and machines into space and into the depths of the oceans. We have the resources, the knowledge, and the people to conquer hunger here in America. 

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