They buildOn: Board Member Allan Hackney Brings buildOn to Boston Marathon

As the principal sponsor for the Boston Marathon, John Hancock has been providing nonprofit organizations entries (or bibs) into the race since 1985. This is the second year buildOn has received bibs to this premier race!

Ten runners will simultaneously raise money for buildOn and train for the race, using best practices materials provided by John Hancock. All of the money raised will go to erect buildOn schools in Malawi and Nicaragua, and will finance the trips for inner-city students from Boston Public School to help build the schools.

We spoke with Allan Hackney, John Hancock’s Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer who divides his time between Boston and New Canaan, Conn., about buildOn’s Boston Marathon team and his history with buildOn. He is a member of buildOn’s Connecticut board, and he’s been a key player in creating buildOn’s community in Boston as Co-President of buildOn’s Boston Chapter.

Tell me about buildOn’s participation in the Boston Marathon:

John Hancock has been sponsoring the charity bib program for years and years. But last year, the committee that runs this for John Hancock decided that they wanted to provide more opportunity for smaller, local nonprofits to do this. So I went up to them and asked, “Hey, how about doing something for buildOn?

We have a terrific team here in Boston who now has experience helping the runners get ready, building a community, creating a sense of belonging, getting them engaged with activities. We have barbeques, and the runners get to meet the kids. And of course, the Boston Marathon is a huge part. The only way you can get into the Boston Marathon is either by qualifying or having a bib. This is the only marathon that forces qualification for entry – so if you want to get in, this charity bib is the way to go.

What is your history with buildOn?
I give credit to my wife, Jane Hackney. She was involved with buildOn from almost the beginning (as a volunteer treasure); about 15 years ago. That’s how I got to know Marc Friedman (buildOn’s COO) and Jim Ziolkowski (buildOn’s founder and CEO).

How have you seen your contribution with buildOn make a difference?

Two ways. My wife and I fund the building of a school every year. We get all the letters from the kids who visit the schools, and get the pictures from the field team. And it’s very gratifying to see these places and see the kids in schools.

The other aspect is I, along with Don Epperson (buildOn Connecticut board member, Co-President of the buildOn Boston Chapter and partner at Digital Trek) have been working to build a buildOn community here in Boston for three years. Our chapter is starting to take shape. We have terrific support from Boston Public Schools; we sent some of the students on a trek to Malawi. It’s starting to take off. We’re very energized.

Complete this sentence: buildOn is… a movement. It’s an inspiration to me to see how ordinary people can make such a difference in their community and in the world.

buildOn is still looking for runners to join the team who are willing to raise at least $5,500 for buildOn. If interested, contact