Food Security Innovation Lab Lead

Food Bank
Food Security Innovation Lab Lead

The Vermont Foodbank seeks a curious, analytical, strategic professional to build and manage a team that will pilot, evaluate, then scale solutions to food insecurity. The Food Security Innovation Lab is a two-year initiative that will be made up of a small, core team that will work collaboratively on limited-scope projects that have the potential to be scaled up, all with a consideration of addressing root causes of hunger and poverty. The Innovation Lab Lead is responsible for standing up a cross-functional Food Security Innovation Lab, and is tasked with developing an approach for identifying problems, and piloting and testing ways to address those problems. This includes a process to invite, collect, assess, and triage ideas from staff, external partners, and leaders from across the state and nation to see how/if they can be funded and implemented, ultimately making recommendations that will augment and improve the core work of the Vermont Foodbank. This position requires a strong project manager with a growth mindset and excellent communication skills, able to facilitate systems change, complex cross-departmental problem-solving, and learning.

This position’s workload can be handled remotely, however applicants can use office space at one of the Foodbank’s three facilities, in Barre, Brattleboro, or Rutland, or at our shared office space in Chittenden County.

End date
Opportunity type
Job responsibilities

Essential Functions and Responsibilities:
• Design and stand up an Innovation Lab
o Organize an Innovation Lab team and determine roles and responsibilities. Staff the Lab team, drawing primarily from existing VF staff, but also considering external or short-term positions.
o Design clear guidelines for Innovation Lab decision making authority in collaboration with DH’s and ORT.
o Implement design thinking strategy that aligns with VF’s strategic direction and considers root causes of hunger.
o Design an idea pipeline
 Gather internal ideas in a way that staff feel fully engaged
 Create a process to collect community ideas
 Monitor innovation happening throughout the Feeding America network, food system and social sector nationally, and identify promising practices for VF.
o In collaboration with Lab team, identify the problems to solve and a develop a method to prioritize and select which innovation solutions to pursue
o In collaboration with Lab team, successfully launch and execute multiple 9-month pilots, planning a two-year timeline and execute against it.
o Establish key performance indicators for the team, an evaluation process for the pilots, and define what success looks like for the Innovation Lab.
o Manage budget processes and financial reporting for the Lab and projects.
o Develop “business case” support for recommendation of qualified pilots to scale, including goals, operational needs, financial assessments and the creation of exit strategies and contingency plans.
o Work collaboratively to scale successful projects with the goal of incorporating them into VF’s core work.
o Lead communication of the Innovation Lab vision, pilots and progress, internally and externally.
o Engage in continuous alignment-building around Innovation Lab purpose, process and goals, internally and externally.

Team Leadership
o Manage cross-functional Innovation Lab team(s) responsible for all aspects of pilot design, implementation and evaluation.
o Develop a culture of shared leadership and transparency.
o Remove barriers for project team, identify team needs and advocate.
o Be a collaborator and thought partner for Innovation Lab Manager.
o Provide innovation coaching, develop staff capacity on team and across VF for applying an innovation process to solve for problems.
• Collaborate with VF Philanthropy team, providing reports on program activities internally and directly to funders.
• Provide leadership and vision to center racial equity and community-driven engagement in both processes and outcomes.
• Work cooperatively; communicate with colleagues, volunteers and vendors to support the mission of the Foodbank to meet and sustain Foodbank goals.
• Positively contribute to an organizational culture of safe and secure food handling, warehousing and distribution.
• The Foodbank relies on volunteers every day to fulfill our mission. All Foodbank employees must support our culture of philanthropy by treating every volunteer with appreciation and respect

Other Functions:
• Participate in Board meetings, internal committees and workgroups as required.
• This position will occasionally be required to travel to other Foodbank locations and to attend required meetings, trainings, etc. Some out-of-area and overnight travel may be expected.
• In instances of a federal, state or locally declared emergency, Vermont Foodbank is typically considered an essential service and emergency responder; all of its employees may be called in to perform regular or emergent duties.

Application qualifications

The requirements listed below are representative of the education, experience, knowledge, skills, and/or abilities an individual needs in order to perform this job successfully.
Education and/or Experience:
• A commitment to ending hunger.
• 7+years of experience and/or education gained in business or nonprofit organizations, project management, product development, evaluation, and/or related field.
• Strong project management and evaluation skills, with experience managing complex, multifaceted projects.
• Experience working in an agile setting, experience challenging traditional ways of working.
• A track record of successful design, testing and launch of products/services/ programs.
• Experience leveraging technology to advance innovation.
• Experience in fundraising and partnership development, with a track record of cultivating successful relationships.
• Experience with taking risks and learning from failure.
• Experience with and knowledge of diversity, equity and inclusion work and organizational culture change.

Other Skills and Abilities:
• A willingness to challenge conventional thinking.
• Entrepreneurial skillset, growth mindset.
• Strong synthesis skills.
• Self-directed and self-motivated.

Technical/Computer Skills:
• Proficient in MS Office Suite and other emerging platforms.
• A valid Vermont Driver’s License.
• 3-year motor vehicle report (MVR) showing a clean driving record.


Benefits: Eligible for all benefits

How to apply

To apply for this 2-3 year position, please visit… and submit an employment application with a resume and cover letter attached. Anticipated salary range starting at $85-95K

About the organization

The Vermont Foodbank is the state’s largest hunger-relief organization, providing nutritious food through a network of more than 300 community partners – food shelves, meal sites, senior centers, after-school programs, schools and hospitals. The Vermont Foodbank, a member of Feeding America, provides about 12 million pounds of food annually to people throughout Vermont.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Since 2018, Vermont Foodbank has been on a winding journey to become a more inclusive and diverse organization that centers on equity in everything we do. Though we’ve made progress, these efforts are ever-evolving as we build our awareness and competencies around systems of oppression that disproportionately impact people from marginalized groups. Learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion at Vermont Foodbank.

Additional information

The mission of the Vermont Foodbank is to gather and share quality food and nurture partnerships so that no one in Vermont will go hungry.