An Inspiration and Exceptional Role Model: Jacqueline “Jackie” Gibbs (she/her), the 2020 Catalyst for Change Winner
Her day begins with heading into YouthWorks’ kitchen, checking in with trainees and staff members to get the crew prepared for making 150 emergency shelter meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Afterwards, she cooks in-house meals for YouthWorks’ crews and office staff. While leading those tasks, she manages a team of 15-20 staff and trainees throughout the day as they prepare and distribute meals for numerous sites across Santa Fe. She and her team also prepare 275 meals daily for the grab-and-go youth meals program, ensuring children and teens have a daily prepared meal, as well as supervise the preparation of 60 emergency meals for homebound individuals living in emergency housing in hotels. This is the average day for the not so average Catalyst for Change Award by FareStart’s Catalyst Kitchens winner, Jacqueline “Jackie” Gibbs.
Jackie Gibbs is YouthWorks’ Social Justice Kitchen’s Culinary Program Director. Those who learn and work with her share their appreciation of her establishing trust, accountability and connection to their work environment. These attributes support Jackie’s belief that a critical part of her job as a director is giving multiple opportunities to trainees who find it difficult to adjust to YouthWork’s program schedule and structure. She teaches her trainees that the skills gained in the culinary arts are skills that can be used for the rest of their lives and that everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to prepare healthy, innovative meals for themselves and for others.
Jackie adds, “I love working with youth using my experience and training to help guide them in the right direction. I have a passion for what I do in culinary training and operations because I know that everyone, no matter what their background, deserves the opportunity to be able to receive training and education for a successful life. Culinary work builds life skills and our social justice kitchen gives the opportunity to be able to give back to our community through healthy food.”
Jackie demonstrated her strong organizational and leadership abilities when she, her staff and trainees met the food security challenges that came with the pandemic by serving over 450,000 emergency meals to children and families in Santa Fe in 2020.
Jackie’s nominator describes her as, “a very driven person who exemplifies positivity, good humor, and determination. Jackie is an inspiration and an exceptional role model for all who have the opportunity to work in her presence.”
The Catalyst Kitchens team says, “Jackie’s undeniable dedication to her students and community is what makes the Catalyst Kitchens network so inspiring. She truly personifies the values of the Catalyst Kitchens member network and FareStart. The unwavering commitment of member leaders, like Jackie, is what truly drives the change members seek in their communities.”
YouthWorks has grown since its inception to include collaborations with many partners in the community and across [northern New Mexico]. Since 2001, YouthWorks has served thousands of youth while expanding youth development opportunities that include youth advocacy, high-impact interventions, alternative education, and employment connections for young people.
FareStart’s Catalyst Kitchens (CK) members nominate outstanding individuals at their organizations each year for our Catalyst for Change award, which is designed to recognize staff dedicated to student success. We started this award in 2014 to highlight staff who share their talent and energy directly with students advancing their careers. Throughout the years we have awarded passionate, driven individuals who have directly impacted student lives within the CK network.
Catalyst Kitchens celebrates the Catalyst for Change nominees for their resilience, dedication and the daily impacts they have on their organizations.
2020 Catalyst for Change Nominations:
Marla Navarette, Head of Culture and Learning at Kitchens for Good
“Marla has championed the shift from a culinary program to a trauma-informed educational experience … One of the most notable changes of which Marla was a key force was apprentice agency over job placements--she has fostered the shift to apprentice self-advocacy around learning, career, health, etc. and keeps the team accountable to this notion that our agenda is their all-around wellbeing.” – Lindsey Seegers, Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Kitchens for Good
Wai Chu, Lead Education Manager at Hot Bread Kitchen
“Wai approaches his culinary training program with a very high standard of professionalism, which is manifested in his acute attention to detail and thoughtfulness around the learning experience. He deftly navigates the space between pure professionalism and true empathy and compassion when approaching students who may struggle to learn the skills.” – Karen Bornarth, VP of Industry Partnerships & Initiatives at Hot Bread Kitchen
Chef Luis Realpozo, Head Program Chef; Chef Jacques Kirk, Head Catering Chef at Homeward Bound of Marin
“Over the years, they have mentored and coached hundreds of students who received culinary job-training and social enterprise employment at Homeward Bound. They are extremely dedicated to their jobs and Homeward Bound’s mission, and we could not nominate one without the other because they operate together as a powerhouse behind-the-scenes team to drive our kitchens daily!“ – Corry Kanzenberg, Homeward Bound of Marin
Suzanne Olvey, Tier 2 Chef Trainer, Stone Soup PDX
“Our staff of Prep Cooks, Cook Trainers, and Sous Chef-Trainer all fall under Chef Su's guidance. They handle personnel issues with grace and compassion, taking the entire picture into account when making decisions that affect our team's ability to rise through the organization. They are a fierce advocate for fairness and equity.“ – Craig Gerard, Founder of Stone Soup PDX
Catalyst Kitchens would sincerely like to thank all nominators, nominees and individuals who dedicate their time and skills every day to make impacts on their students throughout our network.