How Did I Get Here? A child­hood un­der apartheid in­spired Feed­ing Amer­ica’s Diana Aviv to “fix the world”

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Feed­ing Amer­ica

Bloomberg Businessweek (Europe) - - CONTENTS -

“I grew up in apartheid South Africa, and I promised my­self that I would fx the world.”

“Within six months of women leav­ing the shel­ter, over 90 per­cent re­turned to their abusers. I was hired to work with the women and also the abusers. It was clear that if we didn’t work with them, we’d never stop the vi­o­lence.” “It’s the lead­er­ship fo­rum for char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions. The down­turn was re­ally sad. Agen­cies didn’t have re­sources. Em­ploy­ees were go­ing with­out pay. It was ter­ri­ble.” “I stud­ied so­cial work, the only le­gal way to get in­volved with the anti-apartheid move­ment with­out end­ing up in prison.” “It was a Jo­han­nes­burg psy­chi­atric hospi­tal, and part of my job was to help the hospi­tal ap­prove sex­change op­er­a­tion pa­tients.”

“I was in charge of the Wash­ing­ton of­fice, which was ab­surd—I didn’t know how a bill be­came a law. Ev­ery evening, I rushed to the pub­lic li­brary to study.”

“We’re a $2.2 bil­lion or­ga­ni­za­tion built to feed peo­ple and end hunger. If you in­clude our net­work of 200 food banks, it’s a $7.75 bil­lion op­er­a­tion. We’ll pro­vide 3.97 bil­lion meals this year.”


King David High School Vic­tory Park, Jo­han­nes­burg, class of 1968

Univer­sity of Wit­wa­ter­srand, Jo­han­nes­burg, class of 1974

Columbia, School of So­cial Work, class of 1977

Work Ex­pe­ri­ence 1974–75

So­cial worker, Tara H. Moross Cen­tre


Clin­i­cal so­cial worker, South­east Nas­sau Guid­ance Cen­ter


Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Al­ter­na­tive to Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence


Pro­gram di­rec­tor, Na­tional Coun­cil of Jewish Women


As­so­ci­ate ex­ec­u­tive vice chair, Jewish Coun­cil for Pub­lic Af­fairs 1994–2003

Vice pres­i­dent for pub­lic pol­icy, United Jewish Com­mu­ni­ties


Pres­i­dent and CEO, In­de­pen­dent Sec­tor

2015– Pre­sent

CEO, Feed­ing Amer­ica

Life Lessons

1. “It’s the folks with the ev­ery­day jobs who make the world go around. Treat them like kings.” 2. “It’s pos­si­ble to have strong opin­ions and frm views with­out de­mol­ish­ing the op­po­si­tion.” 3. "Non­prof­its have to be more ag­ile and in­no­va­tive, be­cause they're do­ing less re­sources."

With David Dink­ins, mayor of New York, 1993

In­spect­ing the horn of a South African an­te­lope with a fourth-grade school­mate

At the White House with Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, 1994

At Phinda Pri­vate Game Re­serve in South Africa, 2011

Pos­ing with a friend for a se­ries of greet­ing cards, 1972

Grad­u­a­tion day at Columbia

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