Former MNsure CEO Allison O’Toole will lead Second Harvest Heartland, one of the nation’s largest food banks.
O’Toole was named CEO of the Twin Cities-based food bank Tuesday after a national search. She served as the top executive for MNsure, Minnesota’s health insurance exchange from May 2015 until stepping down in April 2018. Most recently, she’s worked as a senior director at United States of Care, a new nonprofit dedicated to ensuring access to quality, affordable health care.
“I am so excited to be joining this fabulous team and joining the board, which is so well-poised for growth,” O’Toole, 48, said. “This team has accomplished so many great things already. I can’t wait to take it to the next level together.”
Former Second Harvest CEO Rob Zeaske announced his departure in 2018 after a decade on the job. Zeaske said his family was moving to Boston for his wife’s new job.
The leadership change comes as the food bank builds out its new “hunger-relief campus” in Brooklyn Park. The new 233,000-square-foot warehouse and future headquarters is nearly four times larger than the nonprofit’s home in Maplewood.
Legislators gave Second Harvest $18 million in state bonding money for the project. Private donors and foundations have donated an additional $24 million.
“Second Harvest Heartland is poised to scale up our operations and partnerships to more fully address the problem of hunger. We’re ready to gather more healthy food where there is plenty and deliver it where there is need,” Greg Hilding, former Second Harvest board chairman and interim CEO, said in a written statement. “Allison is the strong leader to get us there.”
Second Harvest will distribute nearly 100 million pounds of food this year to 1,000 food shelves, pantries and other partner programs serving 59 counties in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. More than half that is fresh produce and meat.
Before her tenure at MNsure, O’Toole was a state director for U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and art history from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., and a law degree from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul.
She serves on the board of directors at the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery and is a volunteer for her neighborhood association and high school alumni council.