The Lowcountry Food Bank, among the most high-profile nonprofits operating in the Charleston area, is losing its executive director at the end of July.
D. Jermaine Husser confirmed Wednesday that he has accepted the chief executive position of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and will start there Aug. 1.
Calling the move to Pittsburgh bittersweet, Husser said the new job will test his abilities. "It gives me an opportunity to see if what I believe is true is actually true, in terms of my skill set," he said.
A Goose Creek native, he is reluctant to leave the Lowcountry Food Bank after 14 years of service but realizes he is following his own advice, Husser said. He always has encouraged young people to go to college and explore the world, then return to their hometown and give back, he said.
Matthew Swider, board president of Pittsburgh's food bank, praised Husser's experience and dedication. "His experience, understanding of community needs and passion for his work distinguished him among the highly qualified candidates for the position," Swider said in a statement.
Lowcountry Food Bank board members and staff said they were supportive of Husser's move and confident about the agency's continuing ability to meet its mission.
"We're so excited for Jermaine," said Miriam Coombes, director of development and communications. "We absolutely adore him. Jermaine is very involved. First, he is passionate about feeding the hungry, but he's passionate about the community as a whole."
Mark Smith, board chairman, said Husser laid a firm foundation for the future of the organization.
"Jermaine has a strong leadership team in place that will continue the exemplary work of distributing food to families in our area," Smith said in a statement. "As board chair, I will oversee operations at the food bank, as well as the search committee to find the best-qualified candidate to fill the executive director position." The food bank has launched a national search and expects to hire someone this fall, Smith said.
Husser will assume control of a large staff and a $15 million operating budget that's more than three times the size of the Lowcountry Food Bank's. About 24 million pounds of food are distributed annually in the Pittsburgh area, compared with 17.5 million in the coastal counties of South Carolina. Husser noted that local distribution amounts are remarkably high, considering the smaller budget and staff.
Husser, who ran for the District 117 seat in the state House of Representatives last year, said he still has political ambitions, and that running Pittsburgh's large food bank operation likely will "strengthen and shore up some skill sets" and prepare him to run for public office down the road.