Chatting With a BMC Champion: Marianne Harrison of John Hancock

Boston Medical Center recently sat down with President and CEO of John Hancock Marianne Harrison—longtime friend of the hospital and co-chair of this year’s 25th anniversary Gala. John Hancock has a robust history with BMC as a founding partner of BMC’s health equity efforts, as well as the founding sponsor of the hospital’s Boston Marathon® team. During the chat, Marianne shares why it’s important for companies like John Hancock to collaborate with organizations like BMC and speaks to John Hancock’s future philanthropic endeavors.

Boston Medical Center: John Hancock and Boston Medical Center have formed a strong partnership over the years, helping advance important, life-changing work for BMC’s patients and the community. How do BMC’s mission and goals align with those of John Hancock?

Marianne Harrison: A key feature of BMC has always been its broad mission to provide care for all. This willingness to change industry expectations and imagine what’s possible rather than what might be limiting is what most resonates with John Hancock. Our mission is to make decisions easier and lives better, not just for our customers, but for our neighbors, communities and partners, too. Working with groups and individuals who are ready to think big and act boldly is key to delivering change when and where it is needed to meet our mission. John Hancock and BMC have found several ways to do just that in recent years, and together, we’re moving in the direction of building change that will benefit all of us. That makes me proud.

BMC: John Hancock’s support over the years has been profound, most recently gifting BMC with a generous founding partnership grant for our work in addressing social determinants of health and achieving health equity. Can you speak to why it was important for John Hancock to support BMC in this effort?

MH: John Hancock’s community investment mission is to foster a healthier, more equitable Boston. In this approach, we partner with organizations that have an authentic connection to the communities they serve, can demonstrate strong social impact and are thought leaders in their space. BMC is leading on each of these fronts by serving the city’s most vulnerable populations and recognizing that patients’ and their families’ health is not limited to the hospital. They share our perspective that many factors impact overall wellbeing—including systemic barriers such as access to healthy food—and are seeking to change health outcomes for the better on both the individual and community levels.

BMC: This year marks BMC’s 25th anniversary Gala. As co-chair of the Gala, representing John Hancock, why is it important for you and John Hancock to be part of this event?

MH: The Gala celebrates BMC’s entire community, including its people and their future-focused perspectives. Their impact and commitment to making a difference motivates us and is well worth celebration. This year represents an especially meaningful milestone, and we are thrilled yet again to be part of the event.

BMC: John Hancock is a staple in the city of Boston. How has John Hancock been a catalyst for change in our community over the years? What does that mean to the organization? And what does the future hold?

MH: Something I observed immediately upon joining John Hancock is our employees’ dedication to giving back. It’s a piece of our culture that I’ve learned a lot from. One of the initiatives I’m most proud of is our MLK Scholars program—now in its thirteenth year—which provides summer employment, financial literacy and leadership development for over 600 Boston youth annually at nearly 60 local non-profit organizations. And we’re always looking for other ways to support our neighbors during times of need. For example, this year we launched a statewide campaign to show appreciation for frontline workers and backed skills-based volunteerism to support BIPOC-led [Black, indigenous and people of color-led] and racial justice non-profits. We consider ourselves fortunate to have such great partners and enthusiastic employees who are able to make these efforts happen.