( The Packer )

When Amanda Keefer started working odd jobs at age 12, she likely never envisioned working in the produce industry.

Following the example of her parents, Keefer, director of marketing communications for Produce for Kids, said work ethic was all around her.

After college, Keefer worked in the travel and leisure industry doing everything from bringing tourists to the Kennedy Space Center to managing media relations for hotel clients across the Caribbean and Mexico, she said.

After working at Ypartnership, now MMGY Global, from 2008-11, Keefer began to look for a change when she was forwarded a public relations manager job listing for Produce for Kids.

“I liked the idea of taking my public relations and marketing experience to a good cause,” Keefer said. 

“While it seemed like a little bit of a leap, something told me that I should do it.”

Keefer started her new career in a new industry at Produce for Kids in February 2011.

“It was very scary to move to a different industry where I didn’t know many people,” she said. “I didn’t have a lot of expertise in the business of produce, but I was confident in my skills as a marketer in the public relations field.”

However, Keefer learned the business and found her skills from her previous jobs were applicable to the work at Produce for Kids.

She believes her previous experiences have helped bring Produce for Kids and the promotion of the produce industry to the cutting edge. 

“She’s really passionate about the work that we do,” said Trish James, vice president of Produce for Kids. 

“She is always thinking about how we can improve upon our programs and how we can take everything to the next level.”

James says Keefer helps Produce for Kids remain relevant with engaging content for parents and families.

Keefer was named one of the Top Women in Grocery by Progressive Grocer in 2016 and was nominated for the Southeast Produce Council’s Next Generation Award, James said.

Keefer has served four years on the Southeast Produce Council board of directors, where she oversees SEPC’s relationship with the Arnold Paler Hospital through its philanthropy arm, SEPC Cares.

Keefer launched Power Your Lunchbox in 2014, which has since provided more than 11.3 million meals to families through Feeding America. 

“She is very determined, and she has a really generous heart,” James said. “People want to work with her and when they do so, they see the results and they see the passion she has for what she does.”

Keefer “walks the talk” and she wants her team to know her job is her passion, James said.

Her work has become a lifestyle, Keefer said.

“It’s rare to have a career path where you’re passionate and have this amazing network of people, but you can also incorporate your family,” she said. “My personal life and work life are so combined, but in a good way.” 

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