Ashley Hackett: Cultivating Healthier Communities

By Karla Amador

Before joining Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation (HPHCF), millennial Ashley Hackett volunteered with Americorp in the City Year program, where she became the effective and purpose-driven leader she is today.  As the Senior Program Officer for HPHCF, Hackett manages the grant portfolio for the Foundation’s Healthy Food Fund in Massachusetts.

Through community agriculture projects, HPHCF partners with local farmers who grow and provide fresh produce to communities that need it most. Hackett believes that there should not be any barriers to access and affordability of quality food.

Her goal is to help eliminate food insecurities through initiatives such as mobile farmers’ markets which provide fresh produce to low and moderate-income families—many who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps) and may not have a grocery store nearby in their community.

“Our communities are extremely diverse, and not everyone eats the same kind of produce.  With inclusion being one of Harvard Pilgrim’s core values, it’s great to see our grantees creating culturally competent markets and providing the food their communities need and love,” she said.

Hackett also is committed to supporting various initiatives within her organization. She is the founding Steering Committee member and current co-chair of the LGBTQA Employee Resource Group O.P.E.N (Out. Proud. Engaged. Network.).

“The goal is to create a welcoming and understanding environment and make a difference where our employees live and work,” she said.

Hackett also values HPHCF’s culture around community service and giving. Employees are given up to 24 hours of volunteer time a year to give back to their community. For example, employees can team up with a non-profit partner at a local school or food bank to assist and educate students on nutrition and healthy eating practices.

When asked how professional priorities have shifted for millennials, Hackett stated the importance of work-life balance and self-care, two overlapping concepts.

“I encourage other professionals to ask themselves: Are your personal values aligned with the company’s mission statement?  Does the company serve you, in terms of your goals and aspirations?”

A personal quote to remind Ashley Hackett of the importance of movement and change:

“Prove them wrong, as a reminder that failure and doubt are not reasons to quit, but fuel to try harder.”


Ashley Hackett will serve as one of three panelists for pOp UP Color

pOp UP Color (pOpC) creates robust events to provide intimate and expert insights into a variety of fields impacting and impacted by our millennial audience.

‘The New Balancing Act’ convenes a forum of diverse, young professionals discussing the shifting priorities of today’s millennials. The discussion will touch on topics such as values (corporate, social, personal), strategies to maintain work-life balance, and the importance of ‘impact.’