A Thoughtful Transition Begins at Partners in Food Solutions

February 9, 2023

Today, PFS Co-founder and CEO Jeff Dykstra shared that we will begin the search for a new CEO to replace him over the next year. His is the letter he shared today:

Dear PFS Community,

It is with an immense amount of gratitude that I am writing to you to share some exciting news, both for Partners in Food Solutions and for me.

Through a long process of personal reflection, and counsel from trusted friends and advisors, I’ve decided that, after 15 years, it is the time and season to begin a thoughtful CEO leadership transition over the next year.

As the founder of an organization that you love and view as your life’s best work, perhaps the hardest and yet most important task is discerning when it is time to step back and usher in the next leader of the organization.

Founders can leave too early, too late, or on time. At nearly 15 years, too early has come and gone. I want to be a leader who leaves a healthy organization on time. I believe that just as new seasons bring healthy growth and change to the landscape, timely leadership change can usher in healthy and important growth for organizations.

PFS is healthier and stronger than at any time in our history. We have an outstanding board, a talented and seasoned staff, dedicated partners, committed donors, a strong balance sheet, and all this while the need and relevance of our work has never been greater. Now is the time to leverage this position of strength and intentionally and thoughtfully bring in the next leader to achieve even greater impact.

As for what happens next, working closely with the PFS board and experienced transition advisors, we have developed a thoughtful and detailed plan for managing this transition over the coming 12-16 months.

The Board of Directors has assembled a diverse search committee which will lead the way to finding our next leader. That team is already at work to engage an international search firm to help us find a leader who is a strong fit for our PFS organizational culture and values, and an effective steward of, and ambassador to, our corporate partners who are the unique heartbeat of PFS. Importantly, given how deeply the work of PFS is embedded in Africa, and our deep conviction that Africa’s challenges will best be solved by Africans, we will put a particular focus on identifying talent from the continent of Africa with strong African experience.

Additionally, the Board has created a transition team comprised of board members, alumni board members and staff to ensure that the entire transition process from now through the onboarding of a new leader minimizes disruption to our daily activities, supports our new leader as they begin their journey with PFS, and maximizes the positive impact that we believe this transition can bring for all of our staff, stakeholders and clients. These two teams will be led by our current Board Chair Ken Powell, who is the former Chairman and CEO of PFS’ founding company, General Mills, and past PFS Board Chair and Co-Founder of PFS, Peter Erickson.

A message from Ken:

“We are so grateful for Jeff and his passionate, visionary, and dedicated leadership over these past 15 years to create and grow PFS into the strong, vibrant, and impactful organization that it is today and we are proud and honored to support him during this important transition in his life. We deeply appreciate the gift of time and advance notice Jeff has given us. We know he has thought long and hard about this decision and is approaching this change with a great deal of intention and care. So will we.

We are committed to ensuring all of us at PFS - our staff, clients, partners, and community members thrive during this important time of transition. PFS has never been stronger as an organization and the work we do is needed now more than ever. Thank you for your ongoing support for our important work. We look forward with great anticipation to all that is to come.”

I am as passionate, proud, and committed to PFS’ mission today as I was when John Mendesh and I began dreaming about what this might be in my family’s backyard in Lusaka, Zambia in 2008. I do not know what will be next for me, other than I will spend this next year fully committed in my role as PFS’ CEO, engaged in supporting our board, team and community in this transition process, and willing to continue serving PFS as a Founder in ways helpful to the Board and new CEO.

If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas about our search or transition process please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or our Board Chair Ken Powell, at [email protected].


Jeff Dykstra