Ellen Parker has led the evolution of Project Bread from a traditional anti-hunger organization to a leading national model that responds to the individual crisis of food insecurity while investing in systemic changes to prevent hunger.
Parker was among the first, and strongest voices, to recognize hunger as a public health problem in low-income communities––and to call for leaders in behavioral economics and public health to initiate review and evaluation of the efficacy of food distribution as a dominant answer to this problem of economics and health.
For over a decade Parker has advocated for healthy school food and community-based programming that reflects local need. In accomplishing this, she’s brought vibrant new partnerships to the table: engaging community residents and leaders, research institutions, legislators, hospital networks, corporate partners, the media, as well as school districts in her work.
During her tenure, she has raised more than 100 million dollars to help children and families struggling with hunger and food insecurity.
Before assuming the leadership of Project Bread in 1996, Ms. Parker was vice president for programs at Crittenton Hastings House, Boston; director of Catholic Charities for Metro-Boston, and the senior policy advisor for human services to the Mayor of Boston. She began her career as an advocate for children and families at Greater Boston Legal Services. Ms. Parker has served on the Massachusetts Food Policy Council for a number of years.
She holds an undergraduate degree from University of Massachusetts Boston and two master’s degrees from Boston University: one in social work and one in business administration and public management. She has lectured at Boston University, MIT and Dartmouth.
2016 − Honorary Degree, Wheelock College
2015 − Urban Farming Institute's Sowing Seeds of Success Award
2014 − National Association of Social Workers, Beverly Ross Fleigel Social Policy Award
2011 − Massachusetts Public Health Association’s Community Leadership Award
2009 − The Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr., Award for Exemplary Public Service
2008 − Shattuck City Champion Award
2007 − The Boston Celtics “Heroes among Us” Award
2003 − The Hubie Jones Award for Urban Service, issued by Boston University’s School of Social Work
2001 − The New England Women’s Leadership Award for Outstanding Leadership in Human Services