What started as a St. Vincent de Paul internship quickly grew into a career path at the nonprofit with increasing responsibility and leadership for Danielle McMahon, 31, now director of food services.
The fall season after her 2012 spring internship saw Danielle on staff and supervising the Mesa Dining Room. By 2015 she managed all five of SVdP’s charity dining rooms. And by 2017 she oversaw all SVdP food services with outward confidence and ease — even as the youngest and one of a handful of women at the leadership table.
Now the Phoenix Business Journal is taking notice of Danielle’s young leadership talent, intellect and compassion too. Out of more than 400 nominations received, the business journal chose Danielle to be one of its 40 Under 40 honorees and will recognize the 2021 cohort Aug. 5 at a virtual award presentation.
“I’m thankful to be honored on a personal level, an individual level, but I’m honored to be representing where I work and to be representing St. Vincent de Paul,” Danielle said.
Her success is more than a quick rise to the top at the nonprofit.
Every year Danielle coordinates SVdP’s dining rooms to tackle the crisis that is Arizona’s extreme heat, which threatens street lives. But the past two years presented crises never expected.
“She’ll open up the dining rooms for all kinds of emergency causes,” SVdP Public Relations Manager Marisol Saldivar said. “When we had asylum-seeking families that we’re being dropped on our street, she was one of the leading voices behind saying, ‘You know we can turn this dining room into a space to help offer people day respite and get them connected to wherever they’re headed.”
Those 2019 asylum relief efforts were quickly followed by a year of pandemic response in 2020. Her leadership in both responses is part of the reason a small group of SVdP staff nominated Danielle for the award.
“I think in my role and at St. Vincent de Paul, we get faced with different challenges every day where we are forced to be creative and trouble shoot and figure out how to meet the needs and how to say, ‘Yes,’” Danielle said.
Beyond emergency response, Danielle has also excelled at growing SVdP’s food mission.
“She’s really expanded our food footprint here in the Valley. She’s made us a pillar of the food bank community here,” Marisol said. “She’s found ways – really creative ways – to redirect food waste to help meet food need in our community.”
“She did that by partnering with Waste Not and Feeding America,” Marisol continued, “getting Starbucks food that was going to be tossed out possibly, partnering with them and getting all of that excess to feed families in need. And she has to do it really quickly, like within 48 hours, before food expires. That’s really impressive.”
That’s a feat that equally impressed the 40 Under 40 selection committee. This will be the 21st year since 2000 that the Phoenix Business Journal honors up-and-coming professionals who are making a name for themselves in the community.
“The one thing that people recognize when they become a member of the class of 40 Under 40 is that they really have done a special achievement and are becoming an emerging leader in the city,” Phoenix Business Journal Editor and Chief Greg Barr said.
Despite all the hype, Danielle remains humble and points back to her early SVdP roots and the organization which she’s grown alongside.
“I've been given a lot of great inspiration and guidance from different leaders that I've been able to work with within the organization,” Danielle said. “I'm fortunate to be inspired every day by all the volunteers that comes to serve with us and by all of our guests that are just thankful to walk in through our doors.”
Join us in celebrating Danielle and look for a special Q-&-A with her online and in print in the Aug. 9 issue of the Phoenix Business Journal.