West Hartford resident Jason Jakubowski has been appointed to lead Foodshare.
By Ronni Newton
Foodshare announced Wednesday that West Hartford resident Jason Jakubowski has been named president and CEO of the regional non-profit anti-hunger organization, which is headquartered in Bloomfield, and will assume his new role on July 31.
Jakubowski, currently the vice president of External Relations at the Hospital for Special Care (HSC), was chosen after a national search by Foodshare’s Board and Transition Committee.
Jakubowski said he loves his current job and wasn’t looking for a new position, but several people sent him the announcement about the job posting and he decided to apply.
He said that as he learned more about Foodshare, went through the very rigorous, multi-step interview process and met the passionate and dedicated staff and board members, he became more and more impressed and excited about the position. His more than 15 years working in public health and public affairs, and his non-profit leadership and community relations experience, made for the perfect background.
“This is absolutely a place I want to spend many years. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” he said.
Jakubowski believes that eradicating hunger – and poverty – is a moral and societal obligation and mission, and not just a job.
“My entire career has always revolved around some aspect of eradicating poverty,” Jakubowski said in a phone interview Wednesday morning. Whether at HSC, where many patients are on Medicare or Medicaid, or as a member of the New Britain City Council, or as chairman of the board at Community Health Resources in Windsor, poverty is a common thread and issue, he said.
“Jason is a recognized leader and builder of community partnerships with a lifelong dedication to tackling the issues of hunger, poverty, literacy, personal health, and job retention,” Foodshare Board Chair Tom Buckingham said in a statement. “He is well-prepared to execute Foodshare’s mission of leading an informed, coordinated response to hunger in our community.”
“There are more than 127,000 people in Hartford and Tolland County [Foodshare’s terrority] who struggle with hunger. One out of every eight people,” Jakubowski said. That comes as a surprise to many since Connecticut is the richest state in the country, but Jakubowski said at the same time the state has some of the poorest people. Many of the families have been struggling for multiple generations.
He looks forward to working as part of the Foodshare team to make a meaningful impact.
Jakubowski is married and has five children, including two sets of twins, and is a longtime coach with the West Hartford Youth Baseball League. He has lived in West Hartford for nine years, and is a native of New Britain where he was a two-term City Council member and two-term City Treasurer. He has a bachelor’s in political science and master of public affairs from the University of Connecticut.
In addition to his role at HSC, his prior work experience includes director of Corporate & Community Development at Charter Oak State College in New Britain, and he has also served as a member of the adjunct faculty at Central Connecticut State University since 2006 and has held graduate fellowships with both the Town of Plainville and UC0nn. He recently served as chairman of the board of Community Health Resources and is vice chair of the board of Leadership Greater Hartford and on the boards of the Middlesex County and Greater New Britain Chambers of Commerce.
Jakuboswki was a 2012 delegate to the Electoral College for President of the United States, a member of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s transition team in 2010, and a member of the class of 2008 Hartford Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.”
In the announcement of Jakubowksi’s appointment, Buckingham added his gratitude for the work of interim CEO and former Board Chair Jack Hackendorn, who took over when former president and CEO James Arena-DeRosa resigned in January 2017. Arena-DeRosa had been appointed to replace longtime CEO Gloria McAdam in July 2015.
“We are grateful to Jack for his interim management of the organization,” Buckingham said. “Because of his leadership during the transition, Foodshare continued to advance critical initiatives and has remained strong and dedicated to our mission.”
Jakubowski praised the organization for its tremendous donor base, many of whom are from West Hartford, and its active role in the community. Many board members are also from West Hartford, Jakubowski said, including Mayor Shari Cantor, Rabbi David Small of the Emanuel Synagogue, and Bank of America SVP Joseph Gianni.
“It’s an impressive agency, not just for us but for the entire region,” Jakubowski said. “I can’t wait to get started on July 31.”
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