Women of Washington: Martha's Table's Ryan Palmer

WASHINGTON – Ryan Palmer admits the way she found success may be cliche, but it was effective. She followed her heart to a leadership role in one of Washington’s best known and impactful non-profits, Martha’s Table.

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“For me it has always been, ‘Do I feel like I’m in the right place? Do I feel like I’m doing something good? Then I’ll be fine,'” Palmer said of her journey to becoming director of external relations for the organization.

Growing up around her father’s work in D.C. city government, Palmer knew she wanted a career in community-based work. And when law school didn’t appeal to her, Palmer focused on gaining experience in policy and non-profit management.

Eventually her path crossed with budding young politician A.J. Cooper. Palmer helped run Cooper’s campaign for a DC City Council. Sadly, days after the two were engaged Cooper died suddenly of a heart attack.

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“After that, I was looking to just do more,” Palmer said.

Not long after losing her fiance, Palmer found herself running programming for the charity best known for its food bank, homeless meal delivery and thrift shop.

Palmer’s role is to focus on the ever-changing needs of those the organization serves, including implementing child literacy programs, establishing a youth advisory council and school farmer’s markets.

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“Our joyful food markets are a huge hit. We have 30 markets that go into elementary schools at dismissal. We set up a farmer’s market once a month at each of our schools,” Palmer said.

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Families shop at no cost for 23 pounds of produce and shelf stable groceries per child.

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“It’s about building on the natural curiosity and inquisitive nature of the children. We’ve got kids interested in cauliflower! It’s a great opportunity,” Palmer said of the markets that also feature smoothie bars for kids to create their own blends.

Palmer comes to the non-profit as it prepares for a major change.

Martha's Table will relocate its headquarters to Ward 8 next year in an effort to reach more of the people it serves, Ryan Palmer said. (Courtesy Martha's Table)
Martha’s Table will relocate its headquarters to Ward 8 next year in an effort to reach more of the people it serves, Ryan Palmer said. (Courtesy Martha’s Table)

After 35 years on 14th Street, Martha’s Table will soon be moving its headquarters where Fort Stanton meets Hillsdale to a new 4,300 square foot building co-located with the Community of Hope.

It’s an effort to bring the services like a food bank and second hand clothing store within walking distance of the residents who need it most, Palmer said.

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“Unfortunately, Ward 8 is one of the biggest food deserts. There are lower indicators for education there and we want to make sure our programs are most accessible to those who need it,” Palmer said.

Martha’s Table will maintain a presence on 14th Street but plans to relocate in 2017.

The post Women of Washington: Martha’s Table’s Ryan Palmer appeared first on WTOP.

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