Photo by Beth Melberg

Jo Ann Herold is the vice president of Arby’s Restaurant Group, a mom and philanthropist. She’s what I call a Living by Giving hero. Herold has found an inspiring way to build giving into all parts of her life: at work, at home and amongst friends. She shares what is most important to her about giving back to the community and how a touch of compassion can come full circle.

Tell us how you support the community?

I am a big believer in doing good work in the community. As a result, I try to support the community in both my corporate role and in my personal life. For example, at Arby’s, we have a mission to help end childhood hunger and I am working with our Arby’s Foundation on this important mission. Ending childhood hunger is also something I feel very strong about personally. A few things we do as a family, is volunteer at homeless shelters, make sandwiches to help people in need and donate school supplies for children who are less fortunate than we are.

As a mom, why is giving back an important lesson to teach our children?

Nothing is more beautiful than seeing children helping children. My daughter, Lily, is nine. I would like her to learn that she can make a difference in other’s lives and that giving back is part of who she is; her character and values. Every year she donates a backpack filled with school supplies and we personally deliver it to the family.

Tell us a little more about the causes you are most passionate about helping?

I am very passionate about the hunger movement; especially doing my part to ensure no child is hungry. Did you know that one in five children is hungry? It’s the invisible epidemic that people do not know about, because sometimes you can’t see it. I believe food is love and can be the catalyst for bringing people together. I am passionate about Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. I also admire Bill Bolling and the role he’s played in Atlanta for 40 years with the Atlanta Community Food Bank. I am also very passionate about doing good work in my neighborhood and am a big supporter of Fernbank Museum, Zoo Atlanta and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Can you share a time when you helping someone else ended up boosting your own life?

There are so many times. The one memory that is very poignant is when we delivered Christmas gifts to a family in need. We drove to their house and gave them their gifts. The family invited us into the home and we ended up having dinner with them. Their gratitude and warmth was incredibly moving. This family gave us much more than we gave them.

You have chosen to integrate giving back in so much of what you do, from work life to personal life. One of my favorite questions to ask is, “what is your Living by Giving dream?”

I would like to see more people volunteer and give back to their community, even if it’s in the smallest way. When it comes to giving, it doesn’t matter how big or small the gift is, it’s just important to take the first step.

For more about Kate Atwood, visit  Photo of Herold and family by Beth Melberg Photography,

Collin KelleyEditor

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.