I believe great female leaders can foster an entirely different operating environment. They tend to be better managers because they listen and empathize, can engage their staff and encourage development and progress. Even if there continues to be more women in the food industry, men still dominate it and I think it’s related to this lack of confidence and pushing ourselves forward. Women have to prove themselves all the time and I want all the women in this business out there to know that you can do this - whether it’s running a business or making great products or building an industry group. We have to take the steps to get out there and meet the right people. I think that is why pineapple DC is so important - your network matters and pineapple brings us together to achieve our goals. It is hard work but with great support, you feel stronger, bolstered and therefore do more.
pineapple DC: “The future is female” is a concept/slogan that has gained prominence in recent years. You are a mom - how do you contextualize this statement in your parenting? What are the things you want your daughter to know as she grows into her own as a young woman?
Elaine: My parents obviously knew that the “future is female” through raising 7 daughters! And I believe in the power that all women have. We are the ones that really lead the dance. I want my daughter to have confidence and inner strength no matter what challenges are facing her. I want my boys to be awesome men - and by that I mean, be a support to awesome women. The chilling part of moments during this election is that you have to find a way to rationalize things even when you are scared inside and then find ways to raise your kids to be compassionate global citizens in the face of all of this rhetoric. But I will and they will be okay. Our three family rules still apply in all situations: 1. Always be kind, 2. Show gratitude and 3. Don’t shame the family name.
My brother-in-law said recently, “women are are going to dominate and this is just the beginning.” He turned to my daughter and said, “you are poised to do great things,” and her immediate response was, “I already am.”
pineapple DC: At pineapple DC, we're all about creating a better food system in ways big and small. What's one hope (or more) that you would have for DC or our country's food system?
Elaine: I think that ultimately, this generation and the next have to be driving towards the same goal and movement towards a better food system because it will take everyone to do this. We all have a role -- everyone from the farmers, suppliers to the investors, food writers, owners/operators to the staff and especially, the diners and consumers. We are all delicately interconnected and we have to be in it together. With everyone playing a role, we all get closer to doing the right thing. Everyone has to make money and it’s still a business but we need to take the right steps towards reaching these bigger goals of a better food system - one investor, one supplier, one operator, one diner at a time.
The hardest thing right now is that we have to change habits and that’s not easy. I know we are all busy but we have to schedule it in - food can be the last thing we think about and that’s when we make rushed, poor food decisions. But I know from personal experience that if I plan on cooking dinner or making our lunch for the next day then the chance of it happening is really high.