Heard-Hughes earned his bachelor of arts in sustainable food systems at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1995 and a master's of social work in social policy and administration from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. While there he worked at organic vegetable farms in the area.
Heard-Hughes was a founder of the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network and worked as a senior field coordinator for Heifer International before taking his current position. With the CFGB, he has been involved community health and tornado recovery initiatives, including projects to enhance public green space and the natural environment.
He also serves on the leadership team for the Walker County Health Action Partnership, the active transportation committee of the Birmingham Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Alabama Obesity Task Force.