Michael Reinke stepped down Monday after one year leading the nonprofit Inter-Faith Council for Social Services.
Reinke said he realized it was time to leave his post as IFC executive director and spend more time with his family after his father’s heart surgery.
“I’m definitely a person who has a strong sense of obligation, and that’s probably what inspired the decision in the sense of my family connections,” Reinke said. “But that also made it harder in the sense of my professional commitments, which are something I take very seriously.”
Former IFC executive director John Dorward, who has continued to volunteer with the nonprofit hunger and homelessness relief agency, will serve as co-director with Kristin Lavergne, director of IFC operations and community services, until a replacement is hired.
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IFC Board President Keith Taylor, Vice President Kathleen Herr and the Executive Committee plan to assist them, while launching the search for a new leader, according to a news release. That could take a few months, Dorward said.
Reinke, who has two daughters and lives in Durham with his wife Lauren Winner, was director of development for Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy when he accepted the IFC position last year. He also brought 28 years of experience tackling poverty to the role.
His tenure started at Dorward’s side, as they opened the new IFC @ SECU Community House on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in September. He also led the first Homeless Memorial Day on Dec. 21 and worked with community partners to secure more than $400,000 to fight local hunger and homelessness.
This year, he worked with Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger and others to launch the Food for the Summer partnership to feed hungry schoolchildren.
Last year’s summer food program served roughly 25,000 meals at 25 sites in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, Reinke said. This year, the inaugural Food for the Summer partnership served more than 45,000 meals at 45 sites, he said, and inspired a tenfold increase in the number of volunteers – from 198 to 1,900.
“That’s one of the reasons why I think IFC has such great potential. It really is able to mobilize people in the community and make things happen,” he said.
Much of his time, however, was dedicated to shepherding the IFC’s FoodFirst project through Carrboro Board of Aldermen and community meetings. That work included an extensive, months-long search for other potential locations.
Reinke’s decision to leave won’t affect plans for the FoodFirst pantry and community kitchen, Dorward said.
The project proposes to replace the existing IFC pantry and offices at 110 W. Main St., in downtown Carrboro, with room to add a Community Kitchen. The kitchen is located now at 100 W. Rosemary St. in Chapel Hill.
The IFC could submit a conditional zoning application to the town later this year.