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Q&A with an inspiring woman: Alynn Sampson

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Alynn Sampson at Food Bank of Lincoln

Alynn Sampson, vice president of operations and impact at Food Bank of Lincoln.

Vice President of Operations and Impact at Food Bank of Lincoln and 2020 Excellence in Nonprofit Inspire Award winner

Who has inspired you?

My 6-year-old daughter, Everly, continues to provide an abundant amount of inspiration to me. When I told her about this article and that I was having my picture taken, her immediate reaction was shock and disgust, and she exclaimed, “Oh my god, Mom! You are not magazine ready!” She is brutally and unapologetically honest and stubborn, which inspire and remind me to be humble and not take myself too seriously.

What book or podcast is currently inspiring you?

This may surprise the masses, but I’m typically not a podcasts listener, and I’m currently not reading any books. The last book I read was “You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded): Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. See question 1 as to why.

The Inspire Women’s Leadership platform has launched Inspire Girls for young female leaders in our community. What inspirational advice would you share with them?

Love yourself first. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers or know what it is that you want to do in life. Don’t feel like you must apologize for who you are, especially when it doesn’t fit what society tells you to be. Ask questions. Encourage yourself and encourage others. Find a mentor and be a mentor to someone, because we are all in this together.

How can we better inspire, include and invest in others in our community?

Bring more people who do not look like you to the decision-making table. Be aware there are folks working just as hard as you (some even harder) and are in a completely different spot than you – some worse off. Seek answers and help make changes. If you have been at the decision-making table for a while, be OK with stepping aside to make room for someone else. Finally, listen, learn and then listen again.

What does leadership mean to you?

Knowing when it’s time to lead, when it’s time to listen and when it’s time to let others lead.

What is your favorite inspirational quote or motto?

I am a huge Wes Moore fan.

“You don’t do things because they are easy. Nothing done with that motivation is worth doing. There are rare times in our lives when we find ourselves doing things because they need to be done – and something in us calls out to do it ourselves. That’s a sign that we may have found the work of our lives.” Wes Moore, “The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters.”

How would you describe a great day?

A great day at work involves working side by side with my colleagues to provide food, compassion and hope to our neighbors who found the courage to ask for help. A great day at home involves ending my day with a hug from my daughter, Everly, exclaiming “Mom, this was the bestest day ever! I love this day!” or my 13-year-old son, Eli, saying “This day was awesome, Mom.”

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and who gave it to you?

My mother, Alisa, would always say “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” I used to be so annoyed by that saying, but as I’ve gotten older, turns out, mom is mostly right. This has allowed me to think critically about situations and be real about what could happen, but also have hope for the very best outcomes. I try to be both a pessimist and an optimist when problem solving.

What’s the biggest challenge or adversity you have faced in your life – professionally or personally – and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge for me has been asking for help. I grew up in a single-parent home. Much of my independence and stubborn nature came from watching my mom handle just about anything and everything on her own – or what I thought was on her own. I’m still a work in progress letting my guard down, but I’ve got a very small circle of friends, family and husband who challenge me. It’s also why the work I do is so important to me, because I know how much it takes to ask for help.

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