When David Goodman made a career change in 1994, he interviewed with the San Francisco Food Bank. Asked why he wanted the job, he replied that he wasn’t there to feed hungry people, but to work hard, and if hungry people benefited, it would be a job well done. Today, he’s the chief executive officer of Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa—a nonprofit organization with a mission to end hunger in the community, serving one in six people in Sonoma County.
“After 25 years, I still embrace the idea of working hard, but I would no longer answer the question in the same way,” says Goodman. “I have come to understand privilege in two ways: first is that I’m privileged, and therefore I should help people. Secondly, it’s a privilege to help. We owe a debt of gratitude to many of the people who turn to us for help, as they are the people who care for our children, tend to our homes, serve us meals, work our land, and help our parents age with dignity.” A Marin County native, Goodman lives in Novato with his wife, Katrina, and their Labrador Retriever, Olive.
What did you do professionally before you started your own business?
Before becoming a hunger relief worker at a food bank, I had a career in the commercial film business. I’ve worked on more than 100 TV commercials, television shows and motion pictures, doing everything from a production assistant, production coordinator, location scout, to producer.
What do you love to do outside of work?
I consider myself an outdoorsman. I enjoy camping, fishing, hunting, exploring, and experiencing. I’m currently diving deep into the world of HAM radio. I also enjoy sewing. My latest project was a coffee mug holder for the cart I take out to the wildlife refuge. It’s cold in the morning, and coffee is necessary. Other projects include hunting vests, pajamas, boxer shorts and decoy bags. My big winter project will be a cover for a boat.
If you could be any celebrity, who would you want to be?
I’d like to be the President of the United States, so I could change the current course of history.
What big challenge have you taken on recently?
I spent the last year learning Morse Code. It’s like reading with your ears. You can’t be distracted. Try listening to something, while thinking about something else. It just doesn’t work. Successful Morse code copy (as it is called), requires one to be present in the here and now.
If you could have a different career than the one you do now, what would it be?
I’ve been thinking about what would make me happier for 25 years. Nothing has come to mind.
What makes you nervous?
What does your office look like?
Relatively Spartan. Nothing too personal. A good place to focus and conduct business.
What’s your favorite food?
Salad. I like to eat low to the ground. I’m a texture guy. There’s no shortage of interesting ingredients. However, I must admit that I’ve never met a piece of pizza that I didn’t like!
What’s the key to a happy life?
Pursue joy. Don’t invite controversy. I know they seem the same, but they’re entirely different.
If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
We’re all prisoners of who we are, so you might as well decorate the cell.
When you belly up to the bar, what’s your go-to drink?
I’m into spirits. I enjoy the taste of them all. My drink choice changes with the seasons of the year.
What fictional place would you most like to visit?
I’m all about non-fiction. This place is plenty interesting.
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