Please join us in welcoming Bette ‘B.J.’ Iacino, our new Vice President of Development, to the Project Angel Heart team. B.J. started in her role on April 1, 2020. She will be responsible for leading Project Angel Heart’s fundraising efforts.
A Colorado native, B.J. was delighted to return home to Denver more than a decade ago. A former official with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, she brings extensive experience in running national policy and public health campaigns related to chronic disease prevention and control. Recently, she’s worked to advance social justice in the deep poverty space, creating lasting solutions to homelessness at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless; The Gathering Place; and as a board member for the National Healthcare for the Homeless Council.
Welcome to Project Angel Heart! How have your first few weeks been?
Everyone has been so terrific. However, I’m looking forward to spending more time with my new colleagues and our supporters in person, when we’re no longer required to work remotely.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about Project Angel Heart since joining the team?
I’ve learned how incredibly resilient, determined, and creative our team has been in seeing to it that our clients continue to be served, while protecting the safety of staff and volunteers. I’ve also learned that we’ve earned the trust of many enthusiastic, generous donors and grant-makers who’ve really stepped up for us now. I’m very proud to be a member of the team!
Why were you drawn to this role at Project Angel Heart?
The mission is vital. The more we can understand the science behind food as medicine, the healthier our communities will be, especially among vulnerable populations. For example, 80 percent of all deaths from heart disease and stroke are caused by high blood pressure, tobacco use, elevated cholesterol, and low consumption of fruits and vegetables. Medically tailored meals are essential to effective treatment and recovery plans – our work is part of an expanding new paradigm of health care.
You have rich and interesting work experience, including roles in public health and public policy. Can you share an example of an achievement or initiative from your past that helps you bring something special to your work at Project Angel Heart?
I began my career at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I worked in the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, engineering national public education and public policy campaigns. This experience may prove valuable as we seek to open doors to new clients in need, and to new systems of support for our work.
What opportunities do you see for organizations providing medically tailored meals today?
The current pandemic crisis is shining a bright light on our public health infrastructure and medical care approaches that work, especially among vulnerable populations. Providing medically tailored meals will increasingly be part of the medical safety net in communities around the country. Organizations like ours will be in demand.
What do you think the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be for organizations like Project Angel Heart and how are you planning to adjust?
More people will be in need. Our biggest challenge will be how quickly we can scale up to meet that need. It’s an adjustment I’m excited about.
Can you share a favorite food-related memory, or a story about a food you love to prepare?
My grandparents came from Italy. In our culture food and family are inextricably linked. Preparing delicious recipes, handed down through the generations, is how we show our love for each other. Check out the movie “The Big Night” for a taste of what I mean.
What do you enjoy doing in your time away from the office?
I love to be outside – running, hiking, camping, swimming, water-skiing, dancing, singing, watching my garden grow, and taking endless pictures of the sun as it rises and sets.