2021, Change Agent: The Covid-19 crisis brought with it another crisis: increased food insecurity. Under Allison O’Toole’s leadership, Brooklyn Park-based hunger relief organization Second Harvest Heartland delivered more than 75 million pounds of food between March and October by organizing emergency outdoor grocery pop-ups and drive-throughs and by delivering prepared meals. Going into 2021, O’Toole says Second Harvest Heartland will continue to fight hunger, but with an increased emphasis on distributing “culturally relevant” foods, prioritizing sourcing partnerships with farmers of color, increasing its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach, and distributing to more communities of color.
2017, Make or Break: Allison O’Toole was promoted from interim to permanent CEO of the MNsure health insurance exchange in November 2015, with the expectation that she could hit the ground running as the exchange struggled with myriad challenges. She’ll be kept plenty busy in the coming year dealing with the loss of Blue Cross Blue Shield from MNsure’s individual policy market and a round of shockingly high premium hikes from the remaining vendors, which prompted Gov. Mark Dayton in October to call the situation a “serious problem” and ponder calling a special legislative session to seek solutions as MNsure’s condition has evolved from serious to critical.