Volunteers and church members of First Baptist Church of Capital Heights help organize and hand out food to people on Dec. 27, 2016. The church is a drop-off location for the Capital Area Food Bank. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Radha Muthiah, a leader in global development, will now be using her skills to solve the problem of hunger in the Washington region as she becomes the next president and chief executive of the Capital Area Food Bank, officials announced Tuesday.

Peter Schnall, board chairman of the region’s largest food bank, said Muthiah brings “exceptional executive skills” and a depth of experience with health and poverty issues to the job. She will help the food bank enhance its work to make sure the food it distributes is healthy, that it reaches the people who need it, and that the food bank can continue to educate people about healthful food and nutrition, he said.

Muthiah was traveling Tuesday and not available for an interview. In a statement she said: “I am excited to take on this new opportunity as the Food Bank continues to meet the hunger needs of more than a half a million people in the national capital area and as it evolves to provide nutritious food as a first step in ensuring healthier lives and more inclusive social and economic growth.”

Muthiah is stepping down as chief executive of the D.C.-based Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, where she worked for seven years to build up a market of energy-efficient, clean-burning cook stoves in the developing world.

Nearly 3 billion people rely on traditional cook stoves and open fires, and indoor air pollution is a major environmental and health risk.


Radha Muthiah was named the president and chief executive of the Capital Area Food Bank on Tuesday. (The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves/The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves)

The alliance Muthiah led was started by the United Nations Foundation and now includes 1,800 community-based, corporate, foundation, and government partners. Her work helped put the issue of clean cooking on the map as a global development priority.

Earlier in her career, Muthiah worked at Care International, where she focused on eradicating poverty by empowering women and girls. She also worked at ICF International, the American Red Cross and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Muthiah is taking over for Nancy E. Roman, who left last August to become president and chief executive of the D.C.-based Partnership for a Healthier America. The partnership, which was started in tandem with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, works with the private sector to address the obesity crisis.

Roman also came to the food bank from the field of international development, having previously worked at the U.N. World Food Program.

Food insecurity or hunger affects an estimated 700,000 people in the Washington region, according to the food bank.

In 2015, the food bank distributed 44 million pounds of fruit, vegetables and other groceries in the region, through partnerships with more than 400 organizations, including soup kitchens, shelters and schools.

The food bank reaches people in the area through mobile food programs, community markets and after-school initiatives. It also offers nutrition education courses about healthful food selection, budgeting, cooking and growing food.

Muthiah, a resident of Chevy Chase, Md., will start work at the food bank in mid-April.