Wyoming Hunger Initiative is fortunate to have its first staff volunteer on board—First Sister Dixie Muir! Dixie is First Lady Jennie Gordon's older sister (they are sixth and ninth in a family of ten kids) and became involved with the Initiative after a series of long hikes and valuable conversation in Buffalo last October.
Growing up in a big family instilled some important values in Dixie: a strong independent streak, a deep understanding of the strength of sibling bonds, and a laser-focus on education as the key to success. "Our parents weren't helicopter parents," Dixie laughs. "They just didn't have time to be managing every aspect of our lives! They were always there when we needed them, but pushed independent thinking and self-determination." The Muirs didn't grow up in a wealthy house, but they never did without—primarily because nothing was wasted nor taken for granted. That sense of thrift provided a solid foundation in her and her siblings' lives, and has served them well as innovators and leaders.
After graduating from the University of Wyoming with a B.S. in Business and then an M.S. in Finance, Dixie went on to the corporate world: first in finance, then in management, and finally in human resources with HSBC Bank. Her years at HSBC (2003-2015) overlapped with the financial crisis, where she was tasked with selling off businesses and giving people an oftentimes painful notice that "their job had an expiration date." Through it all, Dixie remained focused on people: helping them through difficult situations and uncertain futures. After a year of notice, she planned retirement for 2015. Her long career in business coming to a close suddenly presented her with a lot more time. She found some volunteer work to keep her busy, delivering meals for homebound community members and serving as a "junior ranger" for scouts and others outdoors. Travel was the thing that transfixed Dixie, though.
Soon Dixie began to travel the world. Six or seven months of the year she was off exploring: visiting all the continents for touring, trekking, and satisfying her curiosity about faraway people and cultures. She might have continued to criss-cross the globe—a trek across Scotland, multi-day hikes in Australia, a jaunt through South America, standing at the foot of Mt. Everest, etc.—but as we've heard so many times: the pandemic put a stop to that. Dixie was grounded from travel and began to consider opportunities to put her skillset to work in the nonprofit world.
A conversation with her sister led her to realize the perfect opportunity was in fact right in front of her. "I realized how significant the impact of Wyoming Hunger Initiative was, even though I hadn't known until then how widespread food insecurity really was," says Dixie. "Learning how food banks and food pantries are structured, how the nonprofit world does so much for Wyoming—I wanted to be involved in making it work. Of course there will always be emergency need, and it is critical to have organizations like Wyoming Hunger Initiative to help. People losing their jobs, having unexpected health crises, that kind of thing...those people have fallen in the stream and need help. But Wyoming also struggles with people falling in upstream, too. How do we help them?"
The values Dixie learned growing up in the Muir family as well as the experience she gained in corporate America led her to volunteer with Wyoming Hunger Initiative. Her first project has been to assess the communication and administrative needs of WHI's Regional Directors. She has conducted interviews with each and listened to their successes and challenges while brainstorming ways to provide more support as they grow their independent yet interconnected networks. Her goal, of course, is to ensure the Regional Directors have the tools they need to succeed while learning everything she can about how the battle against food insecurity is being waged.
We're so fortunate to welcome Dixie to the fight!
[Note: you can meet Wyoming Hunger Initiative's Regional Directors on our "Meet the Team" page here! We'll be featuring each Regional Director in future Fork + Spoon posts.]