As vice president of corporate sustainability at The Hartford, Diane Cantello helps coordinate the insurance giant’s sustainability agenda and directly oversees its environmental stewardship and community involvement.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of this last role to local nonprofits, said Bobbie Bartucca, executive director of The Malta House of Care Foundation, a Hartford-based mobile medical clinic that provides free care to individuals without health insurance and is a community partner of The Hartford.
Over the last few years as economic pressure has led some of the capital city’s business to merge, downsize or even relocate, The Hartford has remained a committed, reliable partner.
“Even though it’s a national company, The Hartford has really embraced the fact that they want to support the neighborhood in which they live and work,” Bartucca said. “That’s not the case with lots of big companies these days.”
While The Hartford’s “very generous” financial support is vital for the nonprofit’s existence, the commitment that Cantello personally has shown The Malta House of Care over the years has defied expectations, Bartucca said.
“It is so rare for someone who has gotten to the level that [Diane] has reached in an organization to still be interested in what is happening at the ground level,” Bartucca said. “She is interested in learning about us. She wants to have a relationship with the people [The Hartford] funds.”
Michelle Murphy, director of advancement at foundation, said she is most impressed by Cantello’s communication style.
“At the heart of all of her jobs [at The Hartford] is effective communication,” Murphy said. “Diane has the ability and confidence to express herself in a very real way, as opposed to using lingo or words that sound fancy but don’t really say much.”
Cantello, who lived in the UK before coming to the U.S. with her husband in 1995, believes her strong communication skills are partially the result of moving to a new country. Although the countries share a language, “I think there are very significant differences between them, and having that appreciation of different cultures and an appreciation for the subtleties of language … [helps] with communication,” Cantello said.
Bartucca has simpler explanation: “She’s just such a lovely person.”
“We’ve come far in getting women in business and in the nonprofit world, but we still need leaders who we can look at and say, ‘Wow, I want to be like that,’ or ‘I want my daughter to be like that.’ … That is Diane,” she said.