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Leading with Big-picture Approach | Julie L. Butner

Leading with Big-picture Approach | Julie L. Butner

Julie L. Butner

 President and CEO

Julie Butner, President & CEO of Tarrant Area Food Bank, takes a big-picture approach to finding meaningful ways to impact. She envisions ways for Tarrant Area Food Bank to address current issues facing the community while positioning innovative solutions to develop future solutions to address food insecurity. She encourages her team to approach challenges with a positive attitude and a “can-do” spirit that inspires creativity and results.

Before joining the Tarrant Area Food Bank in January 2020, Julie spent most of her career working in the healthcare and hospitality industries, specifically on food and nutrition. She has held various leadership positions in operations and business development. Julie also served as the United States Army Captain during Operation Desert Storm.

Julie graduated from Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Coordinated Dietetics. She holds a Master of Science in Food Systems Management with an emphasis in Health Promotion from the University of Oklahoma. She is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian.

The steadfast leader has served the Fort Worth community through leadership roles in numerous organizations, including Fort Worth Circle Theatre, Leadership Fort Worth, Delta Gamma Fraternity, Leukemia Society, The Cowtown Marathon, and Fort Worth Sister Cities.

Inspiring & Empowering

Julie leads by example, with guiding principles that include integrity, persistence, and a “can-do” disposition. She believes in strong relationships internal and external to the organization and finds thoughtful ways to convene and connect new and existing partners. She diligently follows through and encourages others to expand beyond their comfort zone. The team admires her dedication to service and to developing future leaders.

But whom has Julie admired? When asked, she states, “I am privileged to have many professional female inspirations. One example is a mentor who was the Chief Legal Counsel for TGI Friday’s. At the time of her mentorship, I was managing a lot of employees, at various levels of their career,” she explains. “I had a lot of questions related to employment practices, coaching, counseling, and developing team members. Not only was she able to provide her own professional experience on how to lead, develop and inspire teams, but she approached it from a legal perspective so that I was clear about how to inspire organizations and people within the context of treating team members fairly and equitably. To this day, I lean on those learnings and appreciate the coaching that she provided.”

Not only have the above assisted Julie in breaking barriers, but she has also become an effective leader. “One of the best leader lessons for me is to “talk less and listen more.” A good leader knows when it is time to step back, listen to what team members and employees are saying, and consider those opinions when making decisions. This is a leadership lesson that I am still learning to practice more frequently!” elucidates Julie while discussing some of the leadership lessons she has learned throughout her career.

For most of her career, Julie has worked for large international companies that required extensive travel, which limited her ability to engage and be involved in the community. “One of the goals I’m still working towards and one main reason I enjoy my job as CEO of the Tarrant Area Food Bank is that it allows me to be involved locally,” she says. “I want to give back to my community, which has been supportive and nurturing, so I continuously look for new ways to “plugin” and give back to it.” With this pioneering mindset, Julie has been taking Tarrant Area Food Bank to new heights.

Working for the Community

Tarrant Area Food Bank was founded in 1982 by a group of Fort Worth residents concerned about hunger in their community. Three months after opening in October 1982, the organization had distributed donated food to 50 charities in Fort Worth, thanks to commercial donors and a holiday food drive by the Fort Worth community. They serve People seeking food assistance, including low-wage workers and their families, senior citizens living on fixed incomes, victims of family violence and disasters, the chronically ill, the severely disabled, the homeless, the under-employed, and the temporary and long-term unemployed. More than one-third of those served by Tarrant Area Food Bank and its network are children.

According to Julie, one of the biggest trends in food insecurity is identifying innovative solutions to address the root cause to end hunger. The Tarrant Area Food Bank is very efficient and effective at distributing food to hungry neighbors, and today they are working toward their vision to end hunger. Some new solutions that Tarrant Area Food Bank is implementing include job training programs, vertical farms, partnering with local growers and farmers to ensure that enough produce is grown locally, community collaboratives to address “food deserts,” and advocating for elected officials and community members for various policies, systems, and environmental change.  

One of the most significant achievements of the Tarrant Area Food Bank is its revolutionary response to the global pandemic. “We learned to react quickly, and we learned to be nimble. We learned to pivot and try new approaches. The global pandemic required Tarrant Area Food Bank to look at our processes and systems,” says Julie. “Nearly every system, process and program went under the microscope, was reevaluated and redirected, not only in terms of efficiency but also in terms of effectiveness. From crisis comes innovation and this innovation has produced new systems with incredible results and greater impact on the community!”

It is pertinent to mention that Tarrant Area Food Bank is embarking on ending hunger solutions that address the health and well-being of the community members. Things like urban and vertical farms, by supplying more produce to the community, directly affecting the top five chronic diseases, as well as partnering with healthcare organizations, schools, and other nonprofits. “We have a vested interest in the health and wellness of our community. For me, the continued evolution of being a thought leader in the world of food insecurity,” adds Julie. “Further, I am serving on the Editorial Board of the food bank news and looking to serve as a board member for one of our nonprofit organizations focused on the health and wellness of the community.”

Julie L. Butner on Leading with a Big-picture Approach
Julie L. Butner Award

" A good leader knows when it is time to step back, listen to what team members and employees are saying, and consider those opinions when making decisions. "

Julie L. Butner

Tarrant Area Food Bank

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