Charles Meng ’74

Charles Meng ’74 honors his life-long passion for helping others

Charles Meng

For some, their career path is a straight one. For others, it’s curvy. Many have exit ramps, detours, and pit stops. The path for 1974 Fisher alumnus Charles Meng has been direct, purposeful, and successful. And while it may seem as though it has traveled in many directions, his compass has always pointed toward one thing: helping others.

Meng earned a B.A. in both history and political science in 1974 and began a career in higher education at City University of New York. There he worked with Rev. Timothy Healy who was vice chancellor for academic affairs. When Fr. Healy was named president of Georgetown University in 1976, he asked Meng to join him as assistant to the president, and Meng made the move to the Capitol District.

During his seven years in the role, Meng earned a law degree from the university. He was named vice president for administration in 1983 and would serve in that capacity for another seven years. Meng then joined the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as associate managing director for administration. He served the District of Columbia government as head of personnel operations, before spending a number of years consulting with large non-profits, associations, and several higher education institutions. Amid his busy schedule, he somehow channeled his spare time into volunteering. He volunteered as a kitchen prep for Food & Friends in Washington, D.C., preparing meals for homebound individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Meng’s desire to help others was sparked during his time as a student at Fisher when he served as a volunteer working with children at the Hillside Children’s Center. He continued volunteering through his professional career, but his time at Food & Friends reignited something within him. He wanted to use his experiences to make a difference in the community, so when the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) was searching for an executive director, Meng threw his hat in the ring.

He joined AFAC in 2008. At the time, the organization had one full-time and four part-time employees, serving about 500 families. In the 12 years Meng has been at the helm, they have expanded to 22 full-time employees serving anywhere from 2,200 to 3,000 families each month, with a powerful fundraising office.

The organization aims to address long-term food insecurity, serving their families once a week versus the monthly model for many food pantries. The pandemic has brought a 30 percent increase in the number of families seeking help from AFAC, but they are ready to serve the community’s growing needs.

In a career ranging from higher education and the arts, to government and community aid, Meng has shown compassion and leadership.

“I chose Fisher because of its small size and personal instruction,” says Meng. “I choose to give back because Fisher was the first place that I found my love of volunteering to help others, and where I received an education that has stayed with me.”