Pamela Rainey Lawler

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Senior Fellow; Founder, Philabundance

Although best known in the region as the founder of Philabundance – the leading organization in the region dedicated to eliminating hunger and food insecurity – Pamela Rainey Lawler is a professional writer, editor, and manager with years of experience in corporate communications, public affairs, and community and civic engagement. She has been a small business owner – Bella Vista’s Pamela’s Garden & Home – and in 1991, as the Consumer Party candidate in the general election, she had the distinction of being the first woman to run for mayor of Philadelphia.

Philabundance was founded in 1984 with an investment of $1,500. Today it serves thousands every day and the $15 million budget underwrites an array of programming – from food distribution, to culinary training, to the nation’s first non-profit supermarket, FARE & SQUARE, in Chester, PA. One of the nation’s first to successfully distribute surplus perishable foods safely and efficiently, Philabundance served as a model for other cities and food banks to access a previously untapped source for emergency food.

By 1992 – eight years after being launched – Philabundance had both a strong business model and a recognizable brand. To move the organization beyond the ‘founder’s stage,’ Ms. Lawler hired a new executive director and took her place on the board of directors.  

Since that time she has been active in guiding the organization through key developmental stages such as the purchase and renovation of Philabundance’s first warehouse in South Philadelphia and the merger with the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank when she co-chaired the governance committee overseeing the effort.  

Because of her in-depth experience in guiding Philabundance from concept to sustainability and in establishing the internal and external processes that made viability and growth possible, she mentors and advises others on strategies for developing and sustaining social impact ventures as well as surviving various organizational transitions and life cycle challenges. 

For the past two decades, she has been successful in helping other organizations in the social service, legal, and education sectors achieve their goals through fundraising and resource development, effective public/private partnerships, board development & management, public relations and marketing, and issues advocacy.

She continues to serve on Philabundance’s board as well the FARE & SQUARE board. In addition, Ms. Lawler is on the board of the Generocity Community Alliance, which recently orchestrated the merger of the social impact journalism site,, with Technically Media utilizing a program related investment (PRI); and the Mural Arts Program Advisory Council.


Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326

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