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Julia Tedesco

President & CEO, Foodlink

juliatedesco_foodlinkYears in current role: 6

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?

That the old adage about running toward what scares you is true. I have learned the most from the situations and conversations that I dreaded and hoped to avoid. As someone who was thrown the opportunity for leadership at young age, this has been my ticket to growth, humility and often being able to sleep at night. It’s a lesson I have to keep re-learning — that if I find myself avoiding something, it’s probably the very thing I should be running toward.

Who have been the biggest mentors in your career?

Tom Ferraro (Foodlink’s founder) hired me and was my greatest mentor. He was an authentic and accessible leader, who had a way of making decisions with a perfect balance of gut, head and heart. I’ve also been fortunate to have a handful of really brilliant and generous board members who have mentored or coached me over the past decade. And of course, my mother, whose greatest leadership advice is to either take a walk or take a nap.

What are your hopes for the Rochester community this year?

My hope is that we do not forget or attempt to bury what was exposed this past year. 2020 laid bare the reality of chronic poverty and systemic racism right here at home. It also revealed how interdependent we are; we count on restaurant and grocery workers, health care professionals, artists, delivery drivers, civil servants, etc. to make our lives possible. I hope this year finds us asking how we can we use both realities — the horrific and the beautiful — to fuel our collective work in building a Beloved Community.

What do you do to unplug in your free time?

By feeding people. (Which is why I am fortunate to find myself in this career.) Connecting with and through food brings me a lot of joy. In this difficult year, I’ve found myself baking more (most notably, apple cakes and English muffins). My children have begun to join in, which makes it that much more joyful.

This profile is part of Rochester Business Journal's Power 100 list for 2021. Information used in this profile was sourced from the honoree. View the full list at rbj.net.

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