A respected community leader and long-time public servant, Lena Hackett founded Community Solutions, Inc. in 2000. “I had spent the previous three years working for the late Congresswoman Julia Carson,” Lena says. “In that environment, I was challenged every day to gain expert knowledge on local, state, and national issues in order to serve constituents. I became addicted to the non-stop learning the job required—and, more importantly, the application of the knowledge I gained to help resolve real issues in the community.”
Founding a firm focused community development and program sustainability for grassroots, regional, and national organizations was the ideal outlet for Lena’s combination of knowledge, experience, and drive to be part of meaningful community change. Creating real change, Lena says, is about “authentic engagement. The work we do is not about ‘tasks.’ It’s about being authentically engaged with the issue we’re working on, the community we’re working with, and the result we want to see achieved.” In fact, a laser-like focus on results is one of the hallmarks of Lena’s—and CSI’s—work.
Under her leadership, staff, clients, and collaborators of CSI are constantly challenged to ask themselves: what’s changed as a result of this work? Is anyone better off? Authentically answering these questions often means working beyond the original scope of the project, connecting clients with other resources to deepen their work, or even telling a client when that CSI is not the right fit for them. Authenticity is paramount to Lena because authentic relationships are the foundation of everything CSI does. “Relationships,” she says “keep us going. Being in relationship with bright, passionate committed people across a broad spectrum of professions is what keeps us going. It is only through our authentic relationships that we are able to have a small part in helping clients be successful in their communities.” Helping those clients be successful means producing measurable improvements for customers and communities—and measurable results help keep the CSI team and its clients accountable to stakeholders, funders, and partners.
In recent years, the firm has worked with such diverse clients as: Marion County Re-Entry Coalition, Indianapolis IN Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore MD Marion County Community Corrections, Indianapolis IN Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana Brothers United, Indianapolis IN The Family Y of Greater Augusta, Augusta GA Rock Steady Boxing, Headquartered in Indianapolis IN Porter County Community Foundation, Indiana Under Lena’s leadership, CSI continues to help these and other organizations and communities make connections and create plans that are visionary, obtainable, and sustainable.
Lena Hackett has a Nutrition and Dietetics degree from Purdue University and holds a graduate degree in Public Health Policy from the University of Michigan. She currently serves on the Indianapolis-Marion County Metropolitan Development Commission and is a member of the Board of Directors of Indianapolis-based nonprofit Dove House, where she is also a former Board Chair.