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The Board of Directors of Goodwill of the Finger Lakes has appointed Jennifer Lake as chief executive officer, effective immediately. She replaces Dr. A. Gidget Hopf, who is retiring after 34 years.
Lake joined Goodwill of the Finger Lakes in 2007 and was appointed president in September 2019, when Hopf announced her retirement. Prior, she was part of the senior leadership team, responsible for the organization’s People Resources and Donated Goods retail divisions. As vice president, she oversaw all operations for 12 retail locations grossing $17 million annually, 11 attended donation centers, and transportation and logistics that generates nearly $3 million annually to support our mission programs. Lake also has led all HR efforts for Goodwill of the Finger Lakes’ 700-plus team. She has been the Strategic Planning liaison to the Board of Directors and consults on all organizational development, learning and change management initiatives.
Originally set to retire in June 2020, Hopf watched Lake take immediate action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through that leadership, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes has made a commendable impact on the communities it serves, making it time for Lake to take the role as CEO immediately. An email was sent to Goodwill’s 700-person team this morning.
“Under Jennifer’s capable leadership, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes has become a key community collaborator in response to the pandemic,” said William Barnecut-Kearns, board chair of Goodwill of the Finger Lakes. “She is eager to help and quick to respond to the needs of the community. It is through her leadership that we have risen to the occasion as an organization — as a family — and truly made an impact. As CEO, Jennifer will be a compassionate and visionary leader of Goodwill of the Finger Lakes. She will help us elevate our brand and further our impact across the communities we serve.”
During the past month’s COVID-19 pandemic, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes has helped to address the needs of community members, especially those with basic needs like food and shelter with our 211/LIFE LINE mission program. The 211/LIFE LINE hotline has experienced a 200% increase in daily contacts with community members in need, and 80% of those are related to food. The organization has increased support of 211 so they can better connect individuals to resources they need such as enrolling participants in Foodlink’s emergency food distribution.
The Goodwill team also deployed its Workforce Development employees to contact school-age and college-age students we serve with vision loss to ensure they have access to virtual learning, and partnered with United Way of Greater Rochester, Monroe County and Congressman Joe Morelle’s office to use Goodwill’s warehouse to store and distribute items that allow community-based organizations to continue serving their populations. Goodwill also serves as a collection site for United Way’s Mask Maker initiative, collecting more than 1,300 masks by mid-April. These are just a few of the efforts Goodwill of the Finger Lakes has taken on in response to this pandemic, all under Lake’s leadership and swift action. She is a well-respected, award-winning and recognized not-for-profit leader in the Greater Rochester area. She received the prestigious Forty Under 40 award from Rochester Business Journal in 2016 and completed a sought-after Executive Development Program through Goodwill Industries International. She has served on the Bivona Child Advocacy Board of Directors since 2017, has been a member of United Way of Greater Rochester’s Women’s Leadership Council since 2015, and has been a mentor in the National Human Resources Association Rochester Mentoring Program since 2011.
“This is an exciting time for our organization, and I have full confidence in Jennifer, between her genuine passion to serve, the respect she has earned throughout her career and her vision for Goodwill of the Finger Lakes,” Barnecut-Kearns said.
Lake earned a master’s degree in organizational learning and human resource development — with a 4.0 GPA — from St. John Fisher, and a bachelor’s degree in political science, also from St. John Fisher.
ABOUT GOODWILL OF THE FINGER LAKES
A 501(c)(3) charitable organization, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes prepares and empowers people with barriers to independence to be self-sufficient and contribute to their families and communities. Headquartered in Rochester, New York, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes’ mission programs ABVI (The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired) and 211/LIFE LINE have a very long and successful history of providing services to our region. The organization’s more than 700 individuals use their passion and expertise to find innovative solutions to address pressing social needs. Each year, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes positively impacts the lives of more than 150,000 people.
For more information, please visit: goodwillfingerlakes.org.
ESL was founded in 1920 by George Eastman, who was one of the greatest philanthropists of the 20th century and a gifted entrepreneur and inventor. Mr. Eastman built Eastman Kodak Company into one of the world’s leading corporations. But he also had a heartfelt interest in his employees and the surrounding community.
ESL has made the nationally recognized Great Place to Work® Best Small & Medium Workplaces list nine times since 2010 (2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, and 2010). It’s all a reflection of ESL's wholehearted efforts to meet the financial needs of people throughout the Greater Rochester area.
As an Equal Opportunity Employer, ESL encourages and is enriched by a diverse and inclusive workforce. ESL affirms the right of every person to participate in all aspects of employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, veteran status, disability, genetic information, or any other protected characteristic. In addition, ESL provides reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities.
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