COVID-19 brought many challenges over the last year, including a huge increase in the need for food. Before the pandemic, Lighthouse typically provided food assistance to an average of 200-300 Oakland County residents per week. Since spring of 2020, we’ve been providing food to 4,500 – 5,000 people per week and that need continues.
As a result, Lighthouse created the new role of Director of Food Programs and brought Anna Kohn on board. Anna is now leading daily operations and overall strategy of Lighthouse’s food distribution efforts. She joined the team in December.
“Before I took this job, in asking how Lighthouse’s food programs operated, and I was told repeatedly, ‘We’re building the plane as we’re flying it.’ That notion has driven the way we’ve operated in collecting, distributing, and donating food in the community during this time,” she said. “What we do, and what so many other community organizations do, has never been done in such a unique, socially-distant, and sometimes reactive manner.”
Anna grew up in Oakland County and graduated from The Roeper School in Birmingham. She went on to attend Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. where students are offered the ability to design their own major. Anna chose ‘Detroitology.’
“Better explained as an independent student of politics, poverty, and economic trends in Detroit, with a specific focus on homelessness and mayoral politics between 1943 and 2005,” she said. “Through this work, it became evident that it is truly the efforts of grassroots organizations that make the biggest differences in the lives of our hardest-hit communities.”
After college, Anna worked for the Detroit Rescue Mission. She was then selected by National Urban Fellow in New York to join their prestigious fellowship program, where she earned her Master’s in Public Administration from CUNY Baruch College, with a specific focus on performance measurements of prisoner reentry initiatives. She used her knowledge to help launch a jail reentry program in Fulton County, Georgia, and then went on to work for a nonprofit that helped men and women transition into agriculture and horticulture careers after prison.
Anna’s experience is vast and centers around helping those in need.
“I launched myself into the world of social service fairly young, establishing a charitable organization at age nine for the homeless in Pontiac and Detroit,” Anna said. “Coming to Lighthouse feels truly like a full circle!”
When she’s not helping those in need, Anna loves to garden and has more than 1,000 succulents in her home. She’s a sculptor, the proud owner of two black cats, and serves as Chair and President of the Michigan Community Corrections Advisory Board and Safe & Just Michigan. Please join us in welcoming Anna to the team!