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United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut announced that HSB’s team, Steam United, has won its 2021 Emerging Leaders Society (ELS) Case Competition, creating a public awareness campaign to raise awareness of local resources that address food insecurity in the Greater Hartford region.   

HSB employees on Steam United are Hunter D’Addeo, Linkesh Diwan and Alondre Rush. They were mentored by Patricia MacRae, Vice President, Point32 Health.  

Food security was selected as the case challenge given the 14% increase in children, adults and families facing hunger. United Way has committed to implementing the winning public awareness campaign idea with the support of the event’s Technology Sponsor, Comcast. 

Steam United was one of seven teams of young professionals from six area companies that competed in identifying innovative strategies to address food insecurity in central and northeastern Connecticut. Teams, who were matched with executive mentors, met over eight weeks learning about food insecurity and financial stability, and participating in professional development experiences.  

“United Way is all about bringing the right people and resources together to solve challenging problems affecting people in our community. While food insecurity is not a new issue, it is one that has affected more people given the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Paula S. Gilberto, President and CEO, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. “The innovation, creativity and passion that our young professionals and mentors brought to this competition is exactly what we need to accelerate progress and make a difference for children and families here in central and northeastern Connecticut.”  

“Every young professional that participated in the United Way Emerging Leaders Society event represents the future…and the future is now,” said lead judge, Joe Gianni, President, Bank of America in the Greater Hartford region. “As a lifelong resident, I have been witness to the progress made by many incredible organizations serving this area. While we yearn for hope – hope that the progress we have made together does not stagnate or reverse – today’s accomplishments by the ELS Case Competition has delivered on that hope.”   

Thank you to all of our participating sponsors, teams, mentors and judges. 

Sponsors: Bards Clothing, Harvard Pilgrim, Healing Meals Community Project, FOX61/CW20, HYPE, Marques Creative, PeoplesBank, UConn School of Business, Pratt & Whitney,  ConnectiCare, Comcast, Keney Park Sustainability Project.  

Teams participated from: CVS Health, HSB, Hartford HealthCare, Comcast, UConn School of Business, and Pratt & Whitney.  

Mentors: Melissa O’Hara, Chelsea Mouta, Patti MacRae, Isabela Piza Danielsen, Pete Collins, Patrick McMahon, Carlos Brown.  

Judges: Tiffany Donelson, Rob Kosior, Jackie Garofano, PhD, Joe Gianni, Erica Dean, Michael Goldbas, Chris Preston, Diane Cantello, Taylor Kinzler. 

Special Thanks to our Steering Committee:
Mackenzie, Manning, Chair; Aaron Knight; Brent Robertson; Matt Banever; Ryan Baldassario; Trish Hesslein; and, Jazna Stannard.

About United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut
United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut’s vision is a community where opportunities are available for every child to succeed in school and for every family to achieve financial security. United Way brings people and resources together to address immediate needs and finds long-term solutions to challenging problems. United Way does this by investing in programs and services, leading community change initiatives, and mobilizing resources and volunteers to ensure that: children succeed in school; people get jobs and are financially secure; people are healthy; and, basic needs are met during tough times. For more information, visit   

About the ELS Case Competition
The ELS Case Competition “Shark Tank” style competition was created by United Way’s Emerging Leader Society to allow for innovative thinking, problem-solving and professional development, all while offering up ideas that may have long-term impact on our community. Funds raised through this year’s ELS Case Competition will address barriers that contribute to local hunger and access to food. 

 Media Contact: Anyeline Céspedes López | United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut | 787.502.0436