People First - Team Member Spotlight


Jeniffer "Jen" Guajardo (she/they) isn't a stranger to food insecurity. The Central Texas Food Bank's (CTFB’s) mission hits quite close to home for them. Growing up, their mom was single, making minimum wage, and trying to raise two kids in South Texas. The language barrier didn't help either. "A lot of our clients remind me of how I grew up. They look like some of my family members. We have the same skin color, and I speak the same language as they do, so I'm glad to be here. That was a big driving force in coming to the Food Bank," Jen shares.

While Jen's mom struggled to make ends meet, she still found a way to help those around her, even in small ways. She taught her children that supporting others is part of being in a community and being a compassionate human being. "I used to be someone that needed help. I feel that it's part of my responsibility to be accountable to my community and help others. I need to help uplift my community so they can have self-fulfilling lives." That concept threaded through Jen's experience working in nonprofits and healthcare.

Jen joined the Food Bank's Volunteer Engagement team in 2019 and transitioned to Development Operations last fall. Jen serves a crucial role coordinating the donor acknowledgment process, which can include up to 3,000 donors per week. The Food Bank receives a large volume of mail-in donations (especially during the holidays), and properly sorting these donations is quite complex. That didn't stop Jen from jumping in and learning quickly. Now Jen trains fellow staff on mail opening and tracking procedures to ensure that the data they enter from donations is clean and accurate.

"Jen has lived out the value of teamwork from the first day, especially since their transition from Volunteer Engagement to the Resource Development Team. Jen has helped tackle, maintain, and even streamline tasks while the team has been shorthanded. Jen constantly performs at a high level and relays helpful suggestions whenever they come to mind. When ready for new challenges, Jen eagerly asks for training on specific tasks." - Jen's colleague

Being a resource and mentor for colleagues is meaningful to Jen. "I've noticed that compared to other places I've worked, people at the Food Bank will stop to say hello and get to know you. We're just a lot more invested in our people as humans, humans who need to interact and need a good environment to thrive. That's important to me." She likes the opportunity to set people up for success and see them achieve their goals because it boosts confidence for both parties. "I'm happy to be with an organization that cares about its people. We're people first," says Jen.

Jen is one of Central Texas Food Bank's May 2022 Employee of the Month. They enjoy live music, their mom's homemade albóndigas, and snuggling their precious pups, Yoshi and Aspirina.