How we give hope in an EXTRAORDINARY way
Aug 14, 2018
Barbara Hensley
How we give hope in an EXTRAORDINARY way

Losing both of her sisters to breast cancer devastated Barbara Hensley. During their combined six year   battles, she became painfully aware of the challenges faced by underserved women. Seeing women who are already struggling just to afford rent and food and who are then faced with fighting breast cancer disturbed and angered her. So she did something.  In 2001 Barbara resigned her executive corporate position and founded the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer® where she is CEO of the Foundation, Hope Chest Franchising and LeeRyan Corporation.

The Hope Chest raises critical resources through the sale of upscale furniture, decorative accessories and designer women’s clothing donated by individuals, retail and wholesale businesses. The Foundation uses funds from the stores and other fund-raising opportunities to provide the quickest and most effective access to the most urgent needs of local, financially challenged patients in treatment for breast cancer. Barbara brings extensive experience to her role as creator of Hope Chest for Breast Cancer®. Prior to founding the organization, she was an executive in upper level management positions with Ceridian Corporation and Honeywell Inc. Hensley was a business instructor at the Wooster campus of Ohio State University. She has also owned and operated a successful retail business.

Hensley is a 2003 recipient of Women Venture’s “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained” award, Minnesota Women’s Press Change Makers Award, Minnesota Oncology and Hematology Foundation’s Star Award. In 2004, she was honored by Volvo US with the Minnesota Volvo for Life Award, by the National Association of Women Business Owners Luminary Award, and by the Business Journal as one of the 25 Women Change-Makers. Hensley was a semi-finalist in the Yale Graduate School of Management Partnership on Nonprofit Ventures’ National Business Plan Competition in 2005, and took second place in the Claremont Graduate School Peter Drucker Award of Innovation. In 2006, Hensley was selected as one of the General Mills Yoplait Champions recognizing individuals from across the nation for their contribution to breast cancer causes. The St. Paul Chamber of Commerce presented Hensley with a 2006 Celebrate Business Success Award. In 2007, Upsize Magazine honored her with their Life Line Award. In 2008, the Minnesota Cancer Alliance presented the Leader in Collaboration Award to Hensley. Also in 2008, the National Association of Women Business Owners honored her with the Benefactor Award. In 2009, she was honored by Austin College with their Distinguished Alumni Award. Wells Fargo and the National Association of Women Business Owners honored Hensley as one of three women business owners across the nation to receive their 2009 National Trailblazer Award.  In 2012 Hensley and the Hope Chest were featured in Savvy Magazine, HerLife Magazine, and Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine. In 2014 Hensley was honored as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Twin West Chamber of Commerce and received the Innovator International Award from Women of Leadership Forum. In 2015 Hensley was honored with Minnesota Business Magazine’s (Real) Power 50 award and in 2016 Parkway High School (St. Louis, MO) Distinguished Alumni Award.

Hensley has a Bachelor of Art degree from Austin College; a Master’s Degree in Business Information Management from the University of Missouri; and a Master’s Degree in Urban Affairs from Webster University. She is a member of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable, past member of the Board of Directors for the Breast Cancer Awareness Association and serves on the Hope Chest Board. Hensley resides in Shakopee, Minnesota, with her husband, Jay. In her spare time, she treasures spending time with Jay; her son Jason and wife Melissa; her son Will and partner Amanda and her grandchildren: Dawson, Noah, Manny, Addy and Melody. She also enjoys being on the lake, gardening, walking with friends and reading.