Volunteer Profile: Ryan Jordan

Today on the blog we will be highlighting layout design volunteer, Ryan Jordan and learn about his expertise and volunteer role.

What is your background and experience in? How does it relate to your volunteer role?

I’ve been in space planning for about 17 years now. I studied at the University of Minnesota, earning my BA degree in architecture, and started working in Target Corp.’s Store Planning Department in 2003. I spent about 10 years with Target before moving on to Self Esteem Brands where I worked as a Construction Design Manager for their Anytime Fitness and Waxing the City brands. In that role, I helped design and lay out hundreds of fitness clubs and spas across the country.

Most recently I worked for WD Partners, a full-service A&E firm out of Columbus, OH that specializes in retail design. At WD I was responsible for the design and planning of store spaces for several of the country’s top retailers, managing a small group of designers to accomplish that goal.

How did you get involved with FFEN? How long have you been volunteering with FFEN?

I reached out to FFEN regarding a need for a “Layout Design Specialist” in June of this year. In March I was unfortunately laid-off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this wasn’t as devastating to me as it might have been for most, as my wife had a very good employment situation and me being home allowed us to eliminate our daycare expenses which was significant. We definitely considered ourselves lucky.

I felt that the right thing to do in my situation, since I was lucky enough to be in the position, was try to use my skills in a volunteer capacity and pay it forward in some way.

Did you have any involvement with hunger relief efforts prior to FFEN? Can you talk about what drew you to this cause and why it's important to you?

No personal involvement, no. But when I was young my mom volunteered at our local food shelf every week. Prior to working with FFEN, my volunteer activities revolved around blood donation which was a cause important to my dad. This seemed like a great opportunity to honor my mom as well. Besides that, when I found the posting on Hands On Twin Cities it seemed like it was tailor-made for me and what I was looking to do.

What has your engagement looked like with FFEN? What projects or volunteer roles have you been involved in?

So far I’ve worked with two food shelves, Shiloh Temple and Calvary Lutheran, both in Minneapolis. I visited their spaces, measured the existing space and layout, evaluated their needs and goals, and drew up proposed layouts for their spaces.

An example of a food shelf layout draft

Do you have any particular stories or moments from your work that you would like to share with readers? Something that illustrates the meaning and importance of the work or how you engage with FFEN's mission?

Just how great it’s been to meet and engage with the people who run these food shelves. They’re so dedicated to their communities and the assistance they provide doing such important work. And they’ve shown such gratitude and appreciation for the small role that I get to play in making their spaces run smoothly. I’ve gotten to meet some really good people.

How would you describe FFEN’s volunteer program?

Robust. There are so many opportunities to help at all different levels. This summer I wasn’t looking to volunteer in any specific way but the fact that I was able to find an opportunity using my specific skill set is amazing to me and so much more rewarding. I’ve worked with volunteers at FFEN who are incredibly knowledgeable about operations and logistics and are very good at what they do. It’s fantastic.

How has volunteering with FFEN shifted your learning or understanding of your particular field or hunger relief?

It’s really opened my eyes to how important our local food shelves are to the communities they serve. I had no idea the sheer volume of people that depend on the food shelves every week. The amount of work that is put into serving these communities is amazing and I’m very glad that I can be a part of it in some small way.


To learn more about FFEN’s mission and how you can help click here.