United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut announces the winners of the 2022 ELS Case Competition: Food Fighters from Aetna, A CVS Health Company 

Dec.14, 2022

The ELS Case Competition is a “Shark Tank” style competition that allows for innovative thinking, problem-solving and professional development for young professionals, all while offering up ideas that may have a long-term impact on our community. 

Hartford, Conn. (Dec. 2022) — United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut announced that Aetna, a CVS Health Company’s team, Food Fighters, has won the 2022Emerging Leaders Society (ELS) Case Competition after being tasked with creating a public awareness campaign to raise awareness and increase utilization of Hartford’s seven Farmers’ Markets.    

Aetna, a CVS Health Company’s Food Fighters team includes: Jordan Kahn, Jacquelyn Loi, Olivia Podber and Emma Robinson. They were mentored by Sri Srinivasan, Engineering Management Director/Data Governance, Evernorth.  

Over the course of eight weeks, six teams of emerging leaders participated in professional development sessions and crafted their solutions to the case challenge presented: create a public awareness campaign to raise visibility around the benefits, culture and characteristics of Hartford Farmers’ Markets and their impact on health outcomes and food insecurity. All six teams presented their proposals before a panel of judges consisting of local community leaders through the first two rounds. Three teams moved on to the third and final round: Food Fighters from Aetna, a CVS Health Company; The Antelopes from Comcast; and, HolisticHart from Cigna.  

These young professionals exemplified our mission, bringing the right people and resources together to solve challenging problems affecting our community. Through this opportunity, in addition to addressing food insecurity, an issue that is amplified due to the effects of inflation, we are also elevating the great work done by our community partners at local farmers’ markets.” said Eric Harrison, President and CEO of United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.  

The winning campaign, “Bring the Farm Home,” is expected to be implemented during summer 2023 in partnership with Comcast, Media Implementation Sponsor, who will produce the PSA. 

“We learned so much about how to approach a problem with empathy and how to create innovative solutions that also leverage available resources that are out there. Each of us are walking away with such a unique and powerful voice and understanding how important storytelling is when working to create lasting and meaningful change. We can’t wait to ‘Bring the Farm Home,’” added Emma Robison, Food Fighters team member. 

Thank you to all of the participating sponsors, teams, mentors and judges.  

Sponsors: Comcast, Cigna, ConnectiCare, HSB, HYPE, Marques Creative, PeoplesBank, UConn School of Business and UConn School of Public Policy. 

Teams participated from: Aetna, a CVS Health Company; Cigna; Comcast; HSB; Hartford HealthCare; and, UConn School of Business.  

Mentors: Patricia MacRae, Competition Mentor; Stephan Bobb; Michael Goldbas; Sarah Laub; Paddi LeShane; Melissa O’Hara; and, Sri Srinivasan.  

Judges: Joe Gianni, Chief Judge; Janice Castle; Jason Jakubowski; Jack Soos; Theresa Hopkins-Staten; and, Mackenzie Manning.

Special Thanks to our Steering Committee:
Alondre Rush, Chair; Ryan Baldassario; Allison Estey; Trevis Farver; Matthew Jerr; and, Alaina Washington.   

To learn more, meet 2022 participants, and view a mini documentary of the competition, visit: unitedwayinc.org/elscasecomp 


About United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut
United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut’s vision is a community where opportunities are available for every child to succeed in school and for every family to achieve financial security. United Way brings people and resources together to address immediate needs and finds long-term solutions to challenging problems. United Way does this by investing in programs and services, leading community change initiatives, and mobilizing resources and volunteers to ensure that: children succeed in school; people get jobs and are financially secure; people are healthy; and, basic needs are met during tough times. For more information, visit unitedwayinc.org.    

About the ELS Case Competition
The ELS Case Competition “Shark Tank” style competition was created by United Way’s Emerging Leader Society to allow for innovative thinking, problem-solving and professional development, all while offering up ideas that may have long-term impact on our community. Funds raised through this year’s ELS Case Competition will address barriers that contribute to local hunger and access to food.  

Media Contact: Anyeline Céspedes López | United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut
acespedes@unitedwayinc.org | 787.502.0436