August 22, 2016, was a night of firsts for my husband and me: our first fundraising event for A Place at the Table (APATT); our first time at Mandolin restaurant; and our first time meeting many new folks from in and around Raleigh. We arrived at Mandolin to find a full house of warm faces, great energy and a wonderful sense of community. It was a private fundraiser hosted by Sean Fowler, owner and head chef at Mandolin – one of Raleigh’s staple restaurants, best known for its fresh delicacies prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Sean had heard about A Place at the Table through a mutual friend and immediately became impassioned by its mission: to provide community and healthy food for all regardless of means.
My husband and I moved from room to room, sampling the delicious appetizers and wine—which was graciously donated by Empire, Epiphany, Grapevine, and Haw River Wine Man—meeting people and capturing a few pictures of the interactions.
Following the cocktail hour, we moved to our table—“Blount Street,” following the theme of naming each table for major streets in downtown Raleigh where APATT is still seeking a permanent location to establish its roots. After going around our small table, introducing ourselves and making a little small talk, I asked each of the adult guests at our table—John, Elliott and John—what brought them to the dinner.
Without hesitation, each responded, “Maggie,” “Maggie,” “Maggie.” Actually, one went into a little more detail and shared, “I have to help Maggie make this dream become reality.”
And as our salads and entrees were served, we shared our stories about how Maggie Kane won our hearts and minds.
How I Met Maggie
Last fall I was in attendance at the Triangle Healthcare Executives’ Forum’s Annual Transformative Care Summit. During one of the panel discussions, Patrice Nelson, executive director of Urban Ministries of Durham, made the most profound statement: “Housing is healthcare.” I tweeted her comment, as it hit me to the core and moved me into action. I had never considered that having a roof over one’s head is truly the foundation of healthcare and prevention.
Shortly after that event, I reached out to a dear friend, Aleta McClenney from N.C. Council of Churches, to ask her about how to get involved in the homeless community in the Triangle. She said, “If you want to learn about what is going on to support the homeless, you must meet Maggie—Maggie Kane.”
Maggie is executive director of APATT. The driver. The one carrying the vision. The leader.
After a few email exchanges, we decided to meet for lunch. The enthusiasm she displayed in her emails was even more evident during our first encounter, and I knew we would be fast friends. She came prepared with very detailed information about people I needed to meet and talked about her nonprofit—APATT—and its mission.
During our conversation—which truly covered no less than 100 topics—we discussed where each of us lived, and I mentioned that we live in the Wakefield development. She shared that ironically she went to high school there and graduated in 2009. I mentioned that my son and his wife also graduated in 2009, and when I said their names, a big smile came over her face. “I was good friends with Corey and Caroline!” We took a picture and texted it to them, and the rest is history. No one loves a “small world” story more than I do!
But what I found so fascinating about Maggie—beyond her energy and commitment to making our community better—was she was working multiple part-time jobs and building this nonprofit—giving up security, salaries and benefits that others are so desperately seeking. I honestly came to the lunch assuming that she must be related to and involved in the Triangle’s Kane real estate dynasty but quickly learned that nothing could be further from the truth.
She was simply driven by her commitment to improve society. How refreshing!
And observing Maggie on the evening of August 22 at Mandolin—watching her introduce the guest speakers (more about them in my guest post next week!), moving from table to table with her fabulous and inviting smile, thanking each person for being there, telling stories, connecting people and networking—was nothing short of amazing.
Leadership authorities Kouzes and Posner said that there are five practices of exemplary leaders. They Model the Way by setting an example and aligning their actions with shared values. They Inspire a Shared Vision by imagining exciting possibilities and enlisting others in a common vision. They Challenge the Process by seeking innovation, experimenting and taking risks. They Enable Others to Act by fostering collaboration and strengthening others. They Encourage the Heart by showing appreciation, celebrating victories and creating a spirit of community.
By everyone’s standards, Maggie is young—at the very start of her career. But it just goes to show that age has nothing to do with being a great leader.
APATT is so fortunate to have Maggie at the helm, along with her outstanding board of directors! Congratulations, and on behalf of the community, thank you for all of your great work!
Carol Dorn Sanders, MA, FACHE