J Hackett with Cycle 13 Kitchen Ready graduates Stephen Hammond (L) and Jevia Nesbitt (R). Credit Green Opportunities.
Green Opportunities (GO) is pleased to announce the selection of Mr. Joseph “J” Hackett as Executive Director effective Thursday, February 9, 2017. Mr. Hackett was selected from a pool of 89 candidates nationwide that applied for the position. GO is excited about the leadership, perspective, and compassion that Mr. Hackett brings to this role. As Executive Director, Mr. Hackett will lead GO’s work to build a resilient, inclusive workforce in Asheville by providing training and employment opportunities to individuals with barriers to employment, including criminal records, homelessness, addiction, lack of work experience, and limited educational attainment.
Mr. Hackett brings to GO 17 years of experience in supportive services and community-based programming, with previous roles ranging from counselor and program manager to executive director. Mr. Hackett joined GO’s staff as Student Development Director in September 2015. In that position, he supervised the training and support of GO students, worked to improve student retention, and grew GO’s network of referral, support, and employment partners.
During his tenure at GO, Mr. Hackett has demonstrated integrity and a strong work ethic, and been embraced by his colleagues and the community at large. As a result of his demonstrated leadership, last fall he was selected by GO’s Board of Directors to assume the role of Interim Executive Director, following the departure of the agency’s previous director. As Interim Executive Director, Mr. Hackett maintained strong program outcomes, secured new revenue-generating business contracts and employment opportunities for program graduates, and oversaw a successful annual fundraising campaign.
Green Opportunities’ mission is to connect youth and adults from low-wealth neighborhoods to sustained employment opportunities that support families and improve community health. 100% of the people GO serves are low-income, and more than half have been involved in the criminal justice system. GO provides individuals with second chances by working with clients, partners, and employers to eliminate the systemic and personal barriers that too often prevent members of our community from re-entering the workforce, securing sustainable employment opportunities, and achieving economic self-sufficiency.
An advocate for equal opportunity in employment, GO has a track record of leading by example. Graduates of GO’s training programs currently serve on its board of directors as well as in all staff departments. Mr. Hackett brings to GO his own story of personal transformation that embodies Green Opportunities’ mission.
Prior to being hired by GO in 2015, Mr. Hackett served 30 months in federal prison. While incarcerated, he worked as an instructor for the prison’s GED program, served as Town Driver, driving inmates to bus stations and airports for release, earned his paralegal certificate from Stratford Career Institute, and completed a life skills program, which helped him re-evaluate himself as a leader.
“Too often, the people that programs like Green Opportunities assist aren’t offered a seat at the table, and their stories and perspectives are never heard,” says Hackett. “The typical executive director has no firsthand experience with the challenges their clients face. As a person who has received the type of support services offered by GO, I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to advocate on behalf of our clients, and to serve as leader of this organization and demonstrate the value of giving second chances.”
A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Hackett has deep roots in the Western North Carolina community. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, founded the Blue Ridge Christian Leadership Center, and was recently appointed Pastor at Asheville’s New Mount Olive Baptist Church.
“Green Opportunities’ Board of Directors is excited to move ahead in concert with our new Executive Director, J Hackett,” says Board Co-Chair Chip Howell. “This choice was made following a thorough executive search that included applicants from within and outside the organization. J’s skill set and powerful life experiences lend a perspective that is uniquely tailored to our organization and training programs. His story affirms GO’s philosophy that providing opportunities—rather than barriers—to those in need creates stronger communities for us all.”