Marèlle habenicht // Executive Director
Marèlle joined the White Center Food Bank in May 2017 as our Finance/HR Manager and moved into the Executive Director position in June 2018. A well-rounded professional, with a passion for entrepreneurship, Marèlle creates organizational efficiencies that remove barriers for staff and unlock an organization’s potential. With a range of experience, from marketing agencies in New York City, to nonprofit fund development and accounting, Marèlle brings a wealth of business knowledge to the team.
In her free time, Marèlle enjoys cooking, gardening, travel, and exploring all that the PNW has to offer.
Carmen Smith // development Director
Carmen joined us in February 2017. She comes to us with a robust background in food equity. From her experience working with international hunger relief organizations to grassroots nonprofits in food justice, she knows that relationships are the most vital part of any organization. As the Development Director, she brings this understanding to nurture invaluable partnerships for the White Center Food Bank. Carmen has her MPA from the Maxwell School.
She spends her free time at the gym, cooking, gardening, traveling, running, hiking, biking, and enjoying the beautiful PNW landscape with her husband, and puppy, Pickle.
Mara Bernard // Community Gardens Manager & volunteer support
Mara began working at the White Center Food Bank in 2013. After farming in many different parts of the world (and in Washington), Mara attended school to specialize in Urban Agriculture and Soil Rehabilitation. Working in White Center has given Mara a welcome challenge: to grow never before seen produce, and to learn how to write those vegetable names in their native language.
As an avid lover of all things nature, Mara can be found marveling at different plants and flowers in the garden. When she’s not farming, Mara loves to ride her bicycle to far off destinations, cook for loved ones, read, make art, hike and dance.
Pam Romine // office and finance manager
Pam has been with the White Center Food Bank since December 2015, working part-time as the Administrative Specialist. She helps to keep all of the essential functions of our food bank - from reporting to donor thank-you's - running smoothly. She comes to the White Center Food Bank with 10 years of experience working with nonprofits.
When Pam is not working she enjoys Volleyball, hiking and growing vegetables. She has 2 grown boys, a husband and a dog named Wiggles. Pam has lived in the White Center area for 37 years.
alicia torres // operations manager
Alicia has been with us since September 2016, when she started as an intern through Career Path Services. She was promoted to our Operations Coordinator in April 2017 due to her incredible work ethic. She is passionate about working for the food bank because it is an opportunity to give back with the hope that her community will have more than she did. Alicia also provides translation services for us.
Alicia enjoys spending her free time with her two daughters, going to the gym, cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, and cheering on the Seahawks.
Cheo Tran // Intake Coordinator & Translator
Cheo has been a core member of our team for over five years, working as an intake coordinator as well as providing superior customer service and translation services to our clients. Cheo is on the front line every day, working to provide a warm welcome to clients and donors upon arrival, as well as providing administrative support for data entry and tracking. She also ensures that our clients meet our eligibility requirements as well as translating for clients with limited English into multiple languages like Chinese and Vietnamese.
She loves spending time with her dog and reading good books. In her free time, she takes walks and runs around White Center and loves going for a swim!
Franny Allen // baby pantry Coordinator
Franny joined our team in the fall of 2017. She has dreamed of working for a nonprofit that provides for its community since she was a teenager. Now, she has the knowledge, life experience, and capacity to do the work she loves! She also a works at Vashon Thriftway and volunteers at the Vashon Food Bank, where she has lived for nearly three years.
Franny has lived in Washington for 13 years, moving here from Northern California to go to college at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She loves people, the outdoors, dogs, shopping, Netflix, NPR, and novels!
Gabby Peña // Intake specialist & Translator
Gabby has been working at the White Center Food Bank since 2011 as an intake specialist and translator. She is part of our diverse team of intake staff, working directly with clients to provide them with a warm welcome, getting them signed in, as well as providing translation services when needed. Gabby is a bilingual Mexican American immigrant and is passionate about supporting many of our immigrant clients through many of the struggles that they can face when first coming to a new country. Gabby loves to work at the Food Bank because she gets the chance to assist her community and help those who need help.
In her free time, she loves to spend quality time with her family, exercising, swimming, and reading. She is also an avid cook and foodie!
John Carey // Mobile Food Bank Specialist
Abbas Al Kinani // Intake, Mobile food Bank Specialist, & translator
Abbas has worked at the White Center Food Bank for the past five years offering superior services during the intake process, providing Arabic translation services when needed, as well as helping to lead our Mobile Food Bank distributions for seniors at Arrowhead Gardens, St. Joseph House, and Nia Apartments. Abbas also is responsible for tracking our Healthy Foods Gift Certificate program and making sure returned certificates are tracked and documented.
Abbas likes to spend his free time with his friends and family, shopping and watching sports! Go Hawks!