MF 124 : Declaring Independence From Child Hunger, with David Sloan
David Sloan is the Maryland Director of No Kid Hungry – Share Our Strength. Today, David will share what Independence Day means to him and how we can all join in the fight to end child hunger.
Successes at a glance:
Maryland Director of No Kid Hungry – Share Our Strength
Former Executive Director of the Maryland Democratic Party
Former Aide to Governor Martin O’Malley
Former Coordinated Campaign Executive for Barack Obama’s 2012 coordinated campaign
Former Political Director for Barack Obama’s 2008 Maryland Campaign
A “windy road” and a calling to end child hunger:
David has always been a dreamer. As a child, his dreams were to make a difference and be a force of positivity. This inkling took him to a career in politics, working for the Democratic party in the state of Maryland, including a long stint with former Governor Martin O’Malley; a personal hero of David’s. David also advocated for President Obama’s reelection in 2012 as a Coordinated Campaign Executive. David’s work allowed him to connect with many grassroots organizations led by both Republicans and Democrats. In speaking with David, one thing that stands out is that he is driven more by advocacy work for great causes than by partisan politics. Specifically, David got to work with organizations and leaders in the area of poverty: local food banks and community centers. David took a particular interest in combating teen and child hunger. In 2007-08, David put together a press conference for the O’Malley administration in coordination with Billy Shore, the national co-founder of Share Our Strength. The press conference announced an ambitious initiative to end child hunger by 2015 in the state of Maryland. Part of this agenda was to bring together public and private entities and combine resources to end child hunger. Over the next several years, David got to see this great organization work hand-in-hand with state government, private entities, and NGOs. While child hunger didn’t end by 2015, the concerted effort made a significant dent and inspired David on his next career move.
After finishing his tenure with the O’Malley administration, an opportunity arose in the Maryland Division of Share Our Strength and today, David is helping to lead the fight against child hunger in the state of Maryland.
What July 4th and independence mean to David:
On a basic level, July 4th holds the same meaning to David that it does to all Americans: a celebration of freedom and the birth of our nation in 1776. On an individual level, independence is about having the opportunity to thrive and create a better life for one’s self and one’s family. For David, freedom is about having equal opportunity but when a child is facing hunger on a daily basis, those opportunities become severely limited. This is why David has devoted his life and career to help eradicate this problem and ensure that all children have that opportunity to grow, thrive and move forward.
Resource or cultural experience that inspired David to move forward:
The Bible: David’s faith, having grown up in a Methodist household, inspires him on a daily basis. For David, it comes down to having a mandate to love and serve his fellow human beings.
Documentaries on The History Channel: in particular (and no surprise), David is a fan of the documentaries on The Presidents and Congress.
PBS Frontline Documentaries: especially the ones on social justice issues and movements that have shaped our country.
Career tip for someone who is interested in serving a cause or working for a non-profit:
Be patient with yourself and open your mind to a new way of thinking. There’s so much out there in terms of causes and issues, that the mentality for many is “to go out there and save the world.” There will be lots of setbacks along the way if you choose this as a career path. So David shares the mindset of “one” to keep you moving forward: “one victory, one person served, one person helped, one more person who is now more aware of the issue you fight for.” This should be your benchmark should you take this as your career path.
How David recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
First, David advises, as much as possible to achieve a work-life balance. David admits this is an area that he is constantly struggling with and working on.
Second, and related to that, make sure you are creatively attending to your mind, spirit, and body. For David, this comes in the form of church, family, music, and sports. As David shares, when he’s intentional about those areas, he is just a better person and can focus more when he is at work.
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Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:
David would tell his younger self that throughout your career there will be ups and downs, sometimes things won’t turn out great. But 1) if you realize no one knows everything, 2) if your heart’s in the right place to do the best job and 3) if you ask for help and allow yourself to be vulnerable about what you don’t know, everything will be ok and you will soar. Moreover, you will attract the people who will want to mentor you and want you to see you succeed. In 2005/06, David had just finished college and was thinking about his next step; specifically about getting involved in politics and public service. David ended up interning for the O’Malley campaign. Later that fall, David was presented with the opportunity to be a county campaign manager. At the time, David was very hesitant to take the job because he was so afraid that he didn’t have the “proper background” for this dream job. David kept thinking he had the wrong college degree, that he needed to go to grad school and play “catch up” before he could take on that kind of responsibility. But David took the position despite those fears, living by his philosophy of catching up thru hard work. Because he took a chance on himself, David’s career took off; becoming the state party director in 2012. Each step along the way, the feeling of “this job is bigger than me” followed him, with a lot of the same insecurities he felt when he took his first leap into becoming a county campaign manager. Today, David has a greater appreciation for the benefits, to himself and those he serves, by taking the leap of faith and moving forward.
Parting wisdom (in a few words):
“We can get it done.”