Editor’s note: Each issue of the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a profile of one of the Business Journal’s reigning 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan. The profile first appeared in the event program.
Bridget Clark Whitney feeds her soul by making it possible for hungry children to eat. She is executive director of Kids’ Food Basket, a childhood hunger relief organization that furnishes daily evening meals or sack suppers to elementary school-aged children at four public school districts in Kent County — Grand Rapids, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville and Wyoming — and a charter school.
Eighty percent or more of the children Kids’ Food Basket feeds live in poverty and likely would not receive an evening meal at home.
During Whitney’s nine-year tenure, KFB’s significant growth has increased from serving 125 children in 2002 to 4,400 each weekday last December. Its annual budget has seen a well-needed bump as well, from $20,000 to $3.8 million in nine years, making it one of the largest and most successful anti-childhood hunger programs in Michigan. Whitney credits KFB’s success in part to its 170 volunteers who, every day, help ensure children have nutritious meals to eat.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. She was one of 12 young nonprofit professionals from around the country chosen for the 2009-2010 American Express NGen Fellows program with Independent Sector in Washington, D.C. She also served on last year’s Heart of West Michigan United Way campaign cabinet, this year’s Gilda’s Club LaughFest cabinet, and on the boards of Indian Trails Camp, Nonprofit Innovations Inc. and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids.
Whitney earned a degree in community leadership from Aquinas College and a certificate in fundraising management from Indiana University.