A veteran food services executive with Hannaford Supermarkets has been chosen to lead Maine’s largest hunger-relief organization.

Heather Thompson Paquette will take on the role of president for Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine in September. The food bank works with 600 partner organizations across Maine, supplying food to schools, senior care programs, health centers and other food banks.

Heather Paquette

It’s a large shift for Paquette, who’s spent the previous 24 years working for Ahold Delhaize USA, the parent company of Hannaford Supermarkets. This shift, however, is a new chapter Paquette has been looking to enter.

“My leadership purpose is ‘always press forward, always give back.’ I defined that through a company process years ago. But when this role came up, I got thinking about what does that mean and am I truly living my purpose,” she said. “I think I was, but this role really helps me do that in a very different and more powerful way.”

Paquette, 46, grew up in Biddeford and graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a degree in business administration. From there, Paquette has spent her whole career working with Hannaford in some capacity. She started with various roles in retail operations and eventually served as the vice president of operations to oversee Maine’s 55 stores. She most recently served as vice president of Ahold Delhaize’s retail innovation center.

After a long career with Hannaford, Paquette’s new role marks a large transition from the corporate world to the nonprofit world. In many ways, though, the switch is not that stark of a change.


For one, Hannaford has been donating food to Good Shepherd Food Bank since 1983.

“I feel like Good Shepherd Food Bank has been alongside me my whole time I’ve been growing up at Hannaford,” Paquette said. “I really wanted to put my full effort into nonprofit, purpose-centered work, partly because of love for the Good Shepherd Food Bank and admiration for their mission and purpose – and part of it is being ready for that change.”

Her professional and community service work also has lent itself to a familiarity with the needs to tackle food insecurity in Maine’s communities.

Good Shepherd Food Bank’s mission to end food insecurity statewide hits close to home for Paquette, a lifelong Mainer. While working overseeing Maine’s Hannaford stores, she also witnessed how a town can be impacted by generational poverty, job loss and increased costs of living.

In addition to her professional experience, Paquette has an extensive community service resume as a past-president of the March of Dimes board of directors, board member of the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine, and co-chair of United Way of Southern Maine Tocqueville Society.

“My experiences have really helped me understand, ‘How do we end generational poverty? How do we address the root causes of hunger? And how do we really move forward together as a community?’ ” she said. “(Good Shepherd’s mission) is more than just distributing meals – it’s also about identifying the root cause of hunger … so that we’re coming at it from a really cohesive way to help solve hunger.”


Beyond distributing food to people across the state, Good Shepherd also facilitates cooking classes, partnerships with Maine farms, leadership programs and trainings for health care partners to recognize the signs of food insecurity. This approach was in part led by former Good Shepherd President Kristen Miale, whose work has inspired Paquette. Miale’s work is also informing how Paquette moves forward in her new role, she said.

“I’ve watched Kristen Miale’s leadership with admiration and respect for years,” Paquette said. “One of my favorite Kristen Miale quotes was ‘Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job.’ I have a lot to learn here – and I’m all in, but these are big shoes to fill.”

Paquette is excited to build off of Miale’s work. For now, though, Paquette knows that this is the time to sit, observe and understand how Good Shepherd works toward its mission.

“It’s a formidable operation. This is a situation where you’re probably not going to hit the ground running and immediately change things around and create an instant, huge, sustainable benefit,” she said. “For me, it’s about learning the operation, learning where there are gaps in where I can contribute, what are the problems that the organization and our entities are looking to solve, and what are some creative solutions to bring to life to do that?”

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