Leading with Heart: CEO, Advocate, and Working Woman

Project Bread

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Erin McAleer: She’s Not Bossy, She’s The Boss

To know her is to admire her – Erin McAleer is President and CEO of Project Bread. 

From defining our organization’s theory of change and intended impact to spearheading the broadening of our radical approach to hunger, Erin has transformed Project Bread.

In all she does, Erin is dedicated to improving the systems that shape our world, and thus the lives of each and every one of us. And like a true leader, she recognizes the importance of nurturing the growth of each individual who helps bring her innovations to fruition. 


Please enjoy these bits of wisdom from Erin!

Erin McAleer, President & CEO of Project Bread


An Interview With Project Bread’s Fearless Leader


What advice would you give to women who want to be future leaders? 

  • Trust your gut – if you are confident you can do something, put your name forward! Women often underestimate our knowledge base or skills. I am a firm believer in transferable skills and that women need to acknowledge and articulate those more!


How do you balance career, personal life and passions? Is there such a thing as balance? 

  • It is HARD. I think it is easy to feel like “I am not doing enough” at home or at work.  As a Mom, though, I think it is really good my kids are seeing me work and have visibility into how I balance it all.  They know they are a priority and that I will never miss something really important to them. But they also realize my work is important.  I think the hardest part can be finding time for self-care.  That often gets deprioritized, so I try to be REALLY intentional (and I also don’t want exercise to be my only self-care!!)


What are the ways you stay grounded and take care of yourself? 

  • I try walking every day, even when it is freezing or hot.  I think getting outside and getting sunshine is so important.  I also really believe in laughter -I know that sounds cheesy – but I am really intentional about finding opportunities to laugh, whether it is going to dinner with friends who crack me up or selecting a funny sitcom.  Our work is heavy and I do believe laughter is really essential to my own mental health!


How have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career? 

  • I have really learned to trust my instincts. Earlier in my career, I would have thoughts or ideas but not voice them because I assumed I wasn’t knowledgeable enough.  There have been so many times I have walked into a room and thought “do I deserve to be here?” and walked out feeling totally confident I deserved to be there.   


How can we include women leaders that are moms and balance their time? 

  • Just be flexible and trust them.  I honestly think I am more efficient now that I am a Mom – I don’t have a lot of time to waste! But I do need to juggle schedules so I require flexibility.  I also think we need to be vulnerable in the workplace.  When my Mom died in 2021, I cried in meetings.  I told people when I was having a tough time.  I wanted people to know that I wasn’t totally myself, and also that they too could and should share when they were struggling. 


What strategies can work well to promote inclusion in the workplace? 

  • Demonstrating inclusivity in actions.  There should be very tangible ways that people know they are valued and included in the office.  Like, I love that we have menstruation products in the bathroom!


What advice would you give your 25-year-old self? 

  • Be more confident!! Demand opportunities that you know you are capable of.


You Don't Have To Be A CEO To Make A Difference

Project Bread’s mission is to alleviate the strain of hunger for everyone in Massachusetts. Last summer, with the help of thousands of partners, we saved families $1,200/month/child by ensuring that all Massachusetts students would be fed nutritious food at school. 

But even with this life-changing relief, the increasing cost of living still holds many families in Massachusetts back from being able to afford everything they need. Over 114,105 women and children statewide depend on The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program for daily access to critical nutrition and healthcare resources.

Thankfully for the 1 in 4 families with children experiencing food insecurity right now, there are people like you who are ready to help.


Register & Fundraise for The Walk for Hunger!!

The Walk for Hunger is a Project Bread’s annual fundraising event, where thousands of motivated Mass residents come together to have fun and raise funds to end hunger in Massachusetts. 

Funds raised through this fun-filled event go directly to dismantling barriers to food in communities all over the Commonwealth. 

Join 4,000 of your mission driven neighbors for a 3-mile low-incline loop around Boston Common on Sunday, May 5, 2024!

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