Local United Way Names Food Gatherer’s Eileen Spring Woman of the Year

Eileen Spring, CEO of Food Gatherers, has been announced as Woman of the Year by the United Way of Washtenaw County.

The United Way of Washtenaw County (UWWC) has announced that Eileen Spring, CEO of Food Gatherers, has been selected as the 2021 Woman of the Year. Ms. Spring will be honored at the UWWC’s Power of the Purse event on March 10, 2021. The event will be held virtually due to the COVID pandemic.

Woman United is a United Way National network of some 55,000 members in 137 U.S. communities, and is the most successful philanthropic effort of its kind. Locally, the UWWC Women’s Leadership Initiative has helped support the Power of the Purse event for programs that promote women’s success and self-sufficiency.

The UWWC established the Woman of the Year honor in 2009. Previous recipients include Molly Dobson, Dr. Lori Pierce, Cecilia Fileti, Cynthia Wilbanks, Verna McDaniel, Beth Fitzsimmons, Martha Darling, Pat Warner, Denise Rabidoux, and Lucy Ann Lance. This year, the Woman of the Year is Eileen Spring.

“Eileen Spring exemplifies what the Power of the Purse initiative is about: women taking action to address community issues,” said Pam Smith, President of the United Way of Washtenaw County, and member of the Power of the Purse committee. 

“Eileen displayed exemplary leadership during the pandemic, and went above and beyond every day to make sure our community was food secure.”

Ms. Spring was chosen by the Power of the Purse committee for her exemplary leadership role in the community and her accomplishments in community leadership, food system security, and innovation.

“I am humbled to be included in a group of women who have enriched our community so broadly through education, health, financial stability, and philanthropy,” shared Ms. Spring. “Access to the right amount and types of food needed to be healthy is a basic human right, and it has been my privilege to work with our network of partners throughout Washtenaw County.”

Ms. Spring has led Food Gatherers for 27 years, and has helped develop the Food Security Plan, a blueprint to create greater capacity. The Plan was integral to our community’s response to the immediate spike in demand for food as a result of the pandemic, preventing the long lines at distribution sites seen in other parts of the country. In the 2020 fiscal year, Food Gatherers distributed 7.8 million pounds of food — the equivalent of 6.5 million meals — throughout the county and even called in the National Guard to keep the supply chain secure for more than 170 community partners and programs.

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