Over 25-plus years as an executive in high tech, advertising and other fast-paced industries, Rebecca Haag helped make money for companies like IBM, Motorola, Bank of America and General Motors before entering the nonprofit world nearly two decades ago.

“I love the discipline of business. I love the measurements that you have in business, where you can show return on investments,” said Ms. Haag, who lives in Chilmark and since 2016 has applied that same discipline to her job as executive director of Island Grown Initiative.

Only the mileposts are different, she told the Gazette during a sit-down interview at her IGI office in West Tisbury last week.

“Instead of a return on investment being profit, it’s now a return on your investment through community outcomes,” Ms. Haag said.

“That we feed people. That we teach children how to grow food and eat healthy meals. That we’re committed to changing the way we do agriculture on the Island, to a regenerative methodology which will help capture carbon from the air and help mitigate climate change,” she said.

“We can help feed people by being good businesspeople.”

Ms. Haag leads by cultivating partnerships all over the Island. — Jeanna Shepard

Ms. Haag came to IGI after more than a decade as chief executive officer of AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, where she signed on in 2003 for what was supposed to be an interim period while a permanent CEO was sought.

“I ended up in nonprofit work accidentally,” she said. “I had agreed . . . as a board member I would step in and stabilize the organization, with the intent that I would be there for a year, and I was there closer to 11. But I loved it.”

Nonprofit leadership provides a sense of mission she hadn’t found in the business world, Ms. Haag said.

“For me, nonprofit work gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I am contributing to my community [and] contributing to the lives of people who need support,” she said.

A graduate of Wells College and the business school at Boston University, Ms. Haag became a year-round Islander in 2015, after years of weekends and vacation trips to her wife Mary Breslauer’s home in Chilmark.

“I had been doing the reverse commute from Boston for about five years while I continued to run the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, and then I merged that organization with Fenway Community Health Center,” she said.

“It was just time to make the permanent move here,” Ms. Haag said.

Introduced to IGI by her friend Mary Kenworth, an Island restaurateur, Ms. Haag soon found herself the top candidate to lead the organization, where she began work on May 1, 2016.

Over her first six years, IGI’s annual budget has grown from $750,000 to $3.2 million, with 35 employees and an expanding set of services joining its longstanding school garden and gleaning programs.

The Mobile Market, introduced in 2017, visits Island neighborhoods during the growing season with fresh, affordably-priced local produce.

Also in 2017, Island Grown began a free summer lunch program that is expected to provide up to 15,000 meals for Island schoolchildren and their families this year.

The Island Food Pantry merged with IGI in 2021, increasing its grocery selection and relocating to the P.A. Club in Oak Bluffs. Island Grown has also teamed up with Good Shepherd Parish to receive bulk foods from the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Other partnerships Ms. Haag has encouraged include food waste collection from local restaurants, a venison donation program during deer hunting season, and a network of borrowed commercial kitchens where Island chefs turn gleaned produce and seafood into frozen soups, stews and baby foods.

“We’re now producing 40,000 prepared meals, this year,” she said.

“We’re working closely with the health care facilities to try to create more medically tailored meals as we go forward,” Ms. Haag added.

Many of IGI’s recent initiatives and partnerships, beginning with the summer lunch and prepared-meals programs, have come about through the Food Equity Network, a loosely organized coalition of Island businesses, nonprofits, community volunteers and IGI staffers Ms. Haag convened in her first year on the job.

Farmers, grocers, fishermen, health care workers and people who work with the elderly have all taken part in network gatherings two or three times a year, setting new goals each time.

“We called people together and said, ‘How are we going to work together to address these unmet needs?’” she said.

On the flip side of providing food to the hungry, Island Grown has also pioneered food-waste pickups at local restaurants, turning the scraps into soil-nourishing compost at Thimble Farm, the nonprofit’s farm and greenhouses in Vineyard Haven.

On Ms. Haag’s watch, the organization has backed away from its former hydroponic growing model, adding soil-grown vegetables in the greenhouses and using regenerative farming techniques in the fields.

The tanks of rainbow trout are also gone, and with them the need to squander energy on cooling water inside a warm greenhouse, Ms. Haag said.

“There wasn’t a market for trout on an Island, and they like cold weather,” she said.

The next move for Island Grown, Ms. Haag said, is to add employee housing — two two-bedroom units and two one-bedroom units, with denitrifying septic systems, on the Thimble Farm property.

“To be responsible employers on Martha’s Vineyard now, you need to help find a solution to the housing problem,” she said.

An education and innovation center at the farm is also in the works, Ms. Haag said.

“We bring school kids to the farm all the time [and] we don’t have a place to gather,” she said.

Already approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the education center will have indoor classrooms where children and adults can take lessons in regenerative gardening and other food-growing techniques, Ms. Haag said.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to start infrastructure production this fall and we’ll start the actual buildings next spring,” she said.

A third and larger project is on the horizon and growing nearer, Ms. Haag said.

“We need an Island food center. We need a place where we can have a commercial kitchen, where we can have warehouse and storage space, big walk-in refrigerators and freezers,” she said.

Right now, IGI has storage space for no more than a week’s worth of groceries from the Boston food bank, Ms. Haag said.

“If the weather gets bad or the ferries don’t run, we have no backup system,” she said.

“We’re working now on how we’re going to put that together,” said Ms. Haag, noting that the location will need to be in a business district and accessible to Islanders of limited means or inconsistent incomes.

“There’s a lot of working people who occasionally need support with food security,” she said, citing seasonal employment that provides less than a year’s worth of income.

A fit and energetic 70, fond of swimming and tennis, Ms. Haag is not eyeing retirement in the near future.

“We have a lot of challenges, and I want to be part of the solution,” said Ms. Haag, adding praise for the Island Grown staff.

“I’m so lucky. It’s later in your career that you should be working with young, vibrant people who are passionate and committed,” she said.

“We’re building leaders who will make a difference on the Island for years to come.”