Ambassador Ken Hackett was nominated by President Barack Obama on June 14, 2013 to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. The United States Senate confirmed Ambassador Hackett on August 1, 2013, and he was sworn in on August 20, 2013.
Prior to his appointment, Mr. Hackett was President of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), an international humanitarian agency supported by the U.S. Catholic community, from 1993 to 2012. As President, Mr. Hackett led 5,000 CRS employees in over 100 countries. He joined CRS in 1972, starting his career in Sierra Leone. Mr. Hackett also held CRS assignments overseas in the Philippines and Kenya. As regional director for Africa, he led CRS’s response to the Ethiopian famine (1984-1985) and supervised CRS’s operations during the crisis in Somalia in the early 1990s. It was under his leadership that CRS responded to recovery efforts such as those following the Rwanda genocide, the Bosnian and Kosovo emergencies, the Asian tsunami, and the Haiti earthquake. Equally notable was CRS’s work during his tenure as President on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS. After a 40-year career with CRS, Mr. Hackett joined the University of Notre Dame’s Institution for Global Development in 2012 where he served as an advisor. Prior to joining CRS, Mr. Hackett served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana.
Mr. Hackett served on the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (2004-2010), a U.S. foreign aid agency dedicated to fighting global poverty. He was also a member of the Global Poverty Task Force led by the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. From 1996-2004, Mr. Hackett was Vice President of Caritas Internationalis, the confederation of Catholic humanitarian organizations. He has also served as a Member of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum – the Vatican body that coordinates the Church’s charitable work – and on the Boards of the Africa Society and Jesuit Refugee Services.
Mr. Hackett holds many distinguished honors. In 2004, he was named a Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great, one of the highest papal honors. He holds 16 honorary doctorate degrees from various U.S. universities and was the 2012 recipient of the Laetare Award from the University of Notre Dame, the oldest and most prestigious award for American Catholics. Mr. Hackett has received recognition for his humanitarian work from foreign governments, including the National Order from the Republic of Benin (2008) and the National Medal of Honor from Sierra Leone (1998).
Mr. Hackett, originally of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, earned his undergraduate degree from Boston College.
The Combined Celebration of the Red Mass and the White Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Oct. 26, 2014. The Mass was followed by a luncheon at the Seaport Hotel in Boston featuring a keynote address by U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Kenneth Hackett. (Pilot photos by Christopher S. Pineo)