Personality: William ‘Danny’ Robinson
Spotlight on board chair of Feed More
6/25/2020, 6 p.m.
During the COVID-19 pandemic that has thrust thousands of Virginians into joblessness and unemployment assistance providing some but not total relief, the need for food aid has rarely been greater. Fortunately, this is where Feed More, led by board chairman William “Danny” Robinson has stepped in to address the community’s needs.
Working with programs and networks collecting, preparing and distributing food through food pantries, soup kitchens and other sites across 34 cities and counties in Central Virginia, Feed More has gone into overdrive to help alleviate hunger during this critical time.
“The work that Feed More employees, volunteers and agencies do contributes to the strengthening of our community,” Mr. Robinson says. “When people go hungry, their ability to reach their full potential is limited. When people are food insecure, they are disproportionately affected by diet-sensitive chronic diseases. When children go hungry, it restricts their physical and mental health.”
While there were initial concerns that the pandemic would impact Feed More’s ability to fully serve those in need, the response to an early request for more volunteers help quelled those fears, the Richmond resident says. From March 10 to May 3, more than 1,000 applications from potential volunteers were submitted online to the organization.
This generosity and community spirit is welcomed and appreciated, says Mr. Robinson, who is in the midst of a two-year term as board chair. It was a role he accepted in 2019 on the advice of Feed More’s president and chief executive officer, Doug Pick, with assurance that his involvement as board chair could advance Feed More’s mission of fighting hunger.
Asked why he got involved with Feed More, the advertising agency executive is direct: “I’m a simple guy and I like uncomplicated things. There was no ambiguity to the goals and mission of Feed More. I could articulate it in seconds to anyone who asked, and I believed I could use my marketing and advertising skills to help make them better.”
Beyond continuing Feed More’s primary mission during the pandemic, Mr. Robinson also is using his advertising experience to help raise Feed More’s profile in the community.
It’s a lot of responsibility for anyone to have on their plate, but for Mr. Robinson, the experience seems to be one that remains satisfying, nourishing and fulfilling.
“Feed More gives me the opportunity to be a part of something that, without question, positively impacts the lives of my neighbors,” Mr. Robinson says. “When Feed More makes good on its mission, it does more than help those with immediate need. It helps lift entire communities. It is my responsibility to find a way to do just that.”
Meet community and anti-hunger advocate and this week’s Personality, William “Danny” Robinson:
No. 1 volunteer position: Chair of the Feed More Board of Directors.
Date and place of birth: May 11 in Hampton.
Current residence: Richmond.
Occupation: Chief client officer, The Martin Agency.
What I do: I work with account leaders to recognize and sell embryonic creative ideas, work with creatives to understand their client’s business, and partner with clients to sell culture impacting work throughout their organizational ranks.
Education: Bachelor’s in art education, Hampton Institute; and MBA, Atlanta University.
Family: Spouse, Paula Saylor-Robinson; children, Spencer, 31, and Shelby, 28.
Feed More’s mission: Through its programs and network of agencies, Feed More collects, prepares and distributes food to neighbors across 34 counties and cities in Central Virginia who struggle with hunger.
Feed More is important because: The work that Feed More employees, volunteers and agencies do contributes to the strengthening of our community. When people go hungry, their ability to reach their full potential is limited. When people are food insecure, they are disproportionally affected by diet-sensitive chronic diseases. When children go hungry, it restricts their physical and mental health.
Major focus of organization today: A singular focus to fight hunger.
When elected chairperson: 2019.
Length of term: Two years.
No. 1 objective or project as chairperson: I am an adviser and partner to the CEO of Feed More, Doug Pick. It is my job to ensure that the board implements the organization’s strategy. Additionally, I’ve leveraged my background as an advertising professional and have been an integral part of the planning and execution of the Feed More brand communication that includes advertising, visual branding and strategy.
Strategy for achieving it: Simple: Stay close to Doug (he’s smart as hell); stay close to the board members (they’re smart as hell); continue to lend my marketing expertise; and don’t get in the way of the plan.
Why I accepted this position: I trusted the opinion of CEO Doug Pick and other advisers who believed that I was the right person for the job. And if it meant that my presence could advance the mission, then I agreed to be all in.
When and why I became involved with Feed More: I’m a simple guy and I like uncomplicated things. There was no ambiguity to the goals and mission of Feed More. I understood it. I could articulate it in seconds to anyone who asked, and I believed I could use my marketing and advertising skills to help make them better.
What Feed More means to me: Feed More gives me the opportunity to be a part of something that, without question, positively impacts the lives of my neighbors. My wife and I have made commitments to find ways to join organizations that directly affect the people we see every day. When Feed More makes good on its mission, it does more than help those with immediate need. It helps lift entire communities. It is my responsibility to find ways to do just that.
Communities in which Feed More operates: The Feed More service area stretches across 29 counties and five cities in Central Virginia. From the Northern Neck out west to Louisa and down to the North Carolina line, Feed More distributes more than 24 million meals every year.
Services we provide include: Feed More collects, prepares and distributes food to those in need. With the support of the community, Feed More provides the 1 in 8 Central Virginians who are food insecure with a hand up in their times of need. Our recipients, served through nearly 300 food pantries, soup kitchens, group homes and other community
sites, are largely the working poor who come to seek our assistance in emergency situations.
Feed More programs that distribute nutritious meals: The Kids Cafe, Weekend Backpacks, Hunger Hotline, Summer Food Service Program, Mobile Pantry, Meals on Wheels, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program and School Market.
Foremost Feed More challenge during pandemic: Initially, the concern was the threat of a decrease in our volunteer base. We put out a call for additional help early and our community stepped up in a big way. From March 10 through May 3, we received more than 1,100 online volunteer applications from individuals who wanted to lend a helping hand. Thanks in large part to the outreach from a generous and big-hearted community, Feed More is healthy and thriving. Volunteers play a critical role at Feed More, and every year, more than 1,600 compassionate individuals donate their time and talents to our mission.
What makes me tick: The idea that I can, every single day, create something that the day before did not exist.
How I start the day: Planning. Calculating how I can get all that I need to get done and balance that with all of the things that I want to get done.
The three words that best describe me: Creative. Wry. Empathetic.
Best late-night snack: A bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch with ice cold almond milk.
How I unwind: Dropping a Prince album on the turntable and sitting back with a glass of something.
Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: I’m a video gamer. I have a standing daily online “Call of Duty” session with a few of my friends.
A quote that I am most inspired by: “Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.”— Pablo Picasso.
At the top of my “to-do” list: To finish this questionnaire.
Best thing my parents ever taught me: It’s important to be a generalist, but make sure you find a specialty. Then be great at that thing.
Person who influenced me the most: My father. My demeanor, my life philosophy, my balding head, all passed on from a very wise, quiet and really smart man.
Book that influenced me the most: “Hollywood Animal” by Joe Eszterhas did not influence me so much as had the longest lasting effect on me.
What I’m reading now: “JAY-Z: Made In America” by Michael Eric Dyson.
Next goal: I’m working on a 47-panel series of small paintings that capture images from Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” video. I have completed eight. I got to get to work.