Winston Center Collaborations
President, Catholic Relief Services
A Dialogue on Vocation
Presented in conjunction with the Intersections Program
Monday, March 26, 2007
Fulton Honors Library
Ken Hackett's career has focused on aiding the poor and disenfranchised throughout the world. With a commitment to human rights and social justice, he is the driving force behind Catholic Relief Services, one of the world's most effective and efficien t relief and development agencies. As president of CRS, which he joined more than 30 years ago, Mr. Hackett oversees an organization with operations in 99 countries and a global staff of more than 5,000.
CRS has undergone significant institutional transformation under Mr. Hackett's leadership. When he was named executive director in 1993, Mr. Hackett launched a strategic planning effort that helped clarify the mission and identity of CRS. Soon after, the 1994 massacre in Rwanda – in which as many as 1million people were killed over a three-month span – led CRS to reevaluate how they implemented their relief and development programs, particularly in places experiencing or at high risk of e thnic conflict. After a period of institutional reflection and prayer, CRS incorporated a justice-centered focus into all of its programming, using Catholic Social Teaching as a guide.
During Mr. Hackett's tenure, CRS has embarked on a concerted effort to engage the U.S. Catholic community in CRS' work around the world. As part of this strategy, CRS established the U.S. Operations division in 2002 with a mission to foster global sol idarity among U.S. Catholics. In addition, lay people were appointed to the CRS Board of Directors for the first time in 2004. Previously, only Catholic bishops had served on the CRS Board.
A native of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, Mr. Hackett graduated from Boston College in 1968. He joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to serve in Ghana. Mr. Hackett joined CRS in 1972, starting his career in Sierra Leone. He has served CRS in posts t hroughout Africa and in the Philippines, as well as a variety of positions at CRS headquarters. In July 1993, Mr. Hackett was named executive director of CRS. He was appointed president in 2003.
Mr. Hackett has received honorary doctorate degrees from three notable Catholic institutions: Siena College in Albany, New York, New York Medical College in Valhalla and Boston College in Boston, Mass. He also received the Distinguished Service Award from the Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C. He received the 2005 Alumni Achievement Award for Religion from his alma mater, Boston College.
In October 2004, Mr. Hackett was named a Knight Commander of the Papal Order of Saint Gregory the Great, one of the highest Papal honors, for his service to the Church and the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
He has served as North America president of Caritas Internationalis and is currently a member of the boards of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum; U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration; U.S. bishops' Committee on International Policy; and the Africa Socie ty. He is also a member of Legatus, a membership organization of Catholic business leaders.
In 2004, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Mr. Hackett's nomination to the board of directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a federal effort to increase aid to countries that demonstrate a commitment to ruling justly, investing in peopl e and encouraging economic freedom.
Mr. Hackett lives in Columbia, Maryland. with his wife and two children. He is a member of St. Louis Parish in Clarksville, Maryland.