Maureen Hackett of Houston is co-founder and president of the Hackett Family Foundation. A well-known mental health advocate, Maureen has worked in the philanthropy sector in various positions for more than 30 years. She and her husband, energy executive Jim Hackett, have four grown children and three grandchildren. Maureen has been a member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors (BOV) since 2009. As a valued senior member, she has contributed insight on numerous key initiatives. She currently chairs the BOV’s Philanthropy Committee.
Education: Bachelor of Science, Special Education/Psychology, Arizona State University
Board of Visitors Service:
- Philanthropy Committee chair, 2020-present
- Events Committee, 2013-2014
- Executive Committee, 2012-present
- Officers Committee, 2012-present
- Living Legend Honorary Committee, 2011-present
- Public Affairs Committee, 2009-2014
- Member, 2009-present
What three words best describe you?
Inclusive, passionate, servant-leader.
What’s most important to you, and how do these priorities influence your life?
I’m passionate about health care, education, faith and philanthropy. Our family foundation bases its giving philosophy on these four pillars.
As a child, my mother taught my siblings and me the importance of taking care of humankind by working hard and giving back, with a focus on those less fortunate than us physically, emotionally or otherwise. I try to instill these same priorities in my children and my grandchildren.
How did you become engaged with MD Anderson, and what does your involvement mean to you?
It’s easy to rally around MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer. I’m proud to have a role in advancing that mission as a member of the Board of Visitors. When I was invited to join in 2009, it was an opportunity not only to become an ambassador for the institution, but also to honor my mother, who survived both colon cancer and breast cancer and lived to age 90. I’m honored to have the opportunity to link MD Anderson with those who are looking to have an impact on cancer research, treatment and care, whether it is through philanthropy, volunteerism or simply making connections.
What has been your most rewarding experience as a Board of Visitors member?
I am a perpetual student, so I take advantage of every opportunity to learn about the culture and inner workings of the organization. I have had the pleasure of being a part of many committees and learning about their respective contributions to this great institution. The biggest rewards have come from the friendships I’ve developed and the mutual respect and encouragement we share as we watch goals come to fruition. I like to work and be a part of a team, and it’s been gratifying to have a role in MD Anderson’s mission. The past 12 years have been a great experience, and it’s been fun!
How would you describe the role and impact of philanthropy in a mission-driven organization like MD Anderson?
I truly believe that philanthropy is the plasma of an organization. While the services offered, the research funding granted and other streams of revenue support the outstanding work of MD Anderson, I look at philanthropy as the sustaining force needed to guide the mission and reach for the vision. Philanthropy is what makes many organizations special and unique. It encourages the advancement of human welfare with donations of support in many forms: wisdom, property, hard work, money, talent and time, among others. I want the world to recognize its multiple facets and overall importance for the future.
I learned from my mother that being philanthropic doesn’t necessarily have to do with money. She was the breadwinner of the family for many years. My father was a faith-filled man, highly intellectual, who fell ill in his early 40s, resulting in my mother becoming the source of financial support for the family. In addition to her career, she seemed to be the neighborhood matriarch, always finding time to offer help and advice to other women, encouraging them to make their health a priority and to get screened for cancer. She even established a school to help women learn skills and get jobs.
Though we lived modestly in a household with nine children, we had an abundance of love. My mother couldn’t have given more of herself. I was inspired by her wisdom and passion for helping others less fortunate. I got my drive from her and my sense of duty to do the right thing from both of my parents. To this day, I find there’s a lot of healing — and satisfaction — in giving when you care deeply about something and commit to that mission. Think of the advances around the world, and certainly at MD Anderson, that wouldn’t have happened if not for philanthropy.
What do you hope to accomplish as chair of the Board of Visitors Philanthropy Committee, and what is its significance in MD Anderson’s efforts toward Making Cancer History®?
Our charge is to raise philanthropic funds to enable MD Anderson to advance crucial cancer research programs and other innovative initiatives aimed at saving lives. Beyond raising funds, we also need to enlighten the world about MD Anderson and articulate to others how important philanthropy is in sustaining the institution’s mission to end cancer.
I want fellow board members to feel that their service on the board adds value to their lives and to the mission of MD Anderson, both here and around the world. We get more out of life when we give more of ourselves. I encourage all BOV members to be engaged with the Philanthropy Committee, recognizing that we become members of the committee from the moment we join the BOV, and that together, we can not only achieve outstanding success, but we also can have fun doing it.
I am confident that by sharing our unique talents and expertise with one another and with MD Anderson, our collaborative effort will have a lasting, global impact for generations to come and will bolster MD Anderson’s efforts toward Making Cancer History®.