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Blog Category: Commerce in the Community

Commerce in the Community: Paramount Pictures Works with Local Partners to Promote Opportunity Through High-Impact Education and Mentorship Programs.

Frederick Huntsberry - Commerce in the Community

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview Frederick Huntsberry, the Chief Operating Officer of Paramount Pictures, a position he has served in since 2006. Mr. Huntsberry started his career in entertainment in 1997 at Universal Studios and later NBC Universal where he held various positions in Finance and Business Development, as well as President, NBC Universal Television Distribution where he was responsible for all U.S. first-run syndication and domestic and international television distribution sales activities. His last position was President, NBC Universal International, where he provided strategic direction for new business development growth opportunities, as well operational oversight for international TV distribution and global networks.

Question 1: Tell us about your team at Paramount. What is your mission and main focus?

As Chief Operating Officer at Paramount Pictures, I oversee worldwide strategic planning and operations for the studio. Paramount Pictures, a subsidiary of Viacom, is a producer and distributor of feature films that have entertained audiences around the world for over 100 years. In addition, last year we announced the formation of Paramount Television which focuses on the production of made for television and digital content. We are proud of the content we create, but we’re equally inspired by the tremendous volunteer spirit of our company and employees.

Commerce in the Community: Jail Education Solutions (JES) utilizes innovative workforce development model to reduce recidivism and prepare inmates for reentry into the job market.

Brian Hill, Co-Founder of Jail Education Solutions

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Brian Hill, co-founder of Jail Education Solutions (JES). Prior to starting JES, Brian worked for General Mills and served as a business consultant. He received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT and is currently finishing his JD/MBA at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

Q1: Tell us about Jail Education Solutions (JES). What is your mission and main focus?

JES is dedicated to improving inmate outcomes during incarceration and after release by incentivizing educational and vocational progress through tablet technology in correctional facilities. Investment in inmate education leads to reduced recidivism and lowers taxpayer liability. However, educational programming in correctional facilities is extremely limited and does not currently meet inmate demand. JES grants inmates access to an immense collection of resources, which would otherwise be unavailable, such as k-12 education, GED and college readiness; employment and other community resources; exploratory educational material; cognitive behavioral therapy and treatment and legal information. It does so at no additional cost to the institution or taxpayer. 

Q2: How did Jail Education Solutions get started?

The initial interest happened when I was young, and came from my father. He was a psychology professor at Folsom Prison, and his bedtime stories were his student’s papers. I saw so much human potential locked up, but at that age had no idea about the magnitude of the problem. It wasn’t until later in my first year at Northwestern Law School when I began work on a Social Impact Bond initiative for Cook County's Jail (Chicago) that I was reminded of the great need for opportunity. This passion, bolstered by the very innovative Sheriff Tom Dart, provided the space to test, learn, and create JES.

Commerce in the Community: MDC utilizes effective partnership model to promote sustainable economic development and opportunity at the community level

David Dodson, President of MDC

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with David Dodson, President of MDC. Originally known as “Manpower Development Corp.”, MDC creates programs that employ integrated, sustainable solutions that connect people with the financial supports that can stabilize their lives, the education and training they need to get better jobs and the industries that will benefit from their labors and improve the entire community. David Dodson has been with MDC since 1987, where he has directed major projects to increase student success in public schools and community colleges, address regional economic decline, strengthen community philanthropy and build multiracial leadership across the South and the nation. Prior to joining MDC, David served as Executive Director of the Cummins Foundation and Director of Corporate Responsibility for Cummins Engine Company, a Fortune 500 manufacturer based in Columbus, Indiana.

Q1: Tell us about MDC. What is your mission and main focus?

MDC helps organizations and communities close the gaps that separate people from opportunity. We focus on education, employment and economic security and believe the pathway to opportunity is cleared by creating equity—removing the social, financial, and educational barriers that make it harder for those left behind to take advantage of the opportunities America has to offer.

Our programs focus on the American South. We work with policymakers, grassroots community leaders, business people, educators and nonprofits to create a will for change by getting to know a community or organization, connecting leaders across social and political lines and highlighting gaps through historical and statistical research. We then help them identify solutions with a high potential for success and mobilize leaders to address the issues raised.

Our theory of action— Education + Work+ Assets = The Pathway to Opportunity—produces our vision that “society benefits when everyone succeeds.”

Lutheran Services in America Works to Strengthen Local Communities

Charlotte Haberaecker, President and CEO of Lutheran Services in America (LSA)

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Charlotte Haberaecker, President and CEO of Lutheran Services in America (LSA), one of the nation’s largest health and human services networks. Prior to joining LSA in 2012, Charlotte was the number-two executive at Global Impact, a $110 million non-profit organization that provides funding for critical humanitarian needs at home and around the world. Previously, she held senior leadership positions at Price Waterhouse where she directed a management consulting practice and Fannie Mae where she led an industry transformation initiative. 

Q1: Tell us about Lutheran Services in America. What is your mission and main focus?

Lutheran Services in America (www.lutheranservices.org) is one of the largest health and human services networks in the country. Our more than 300 members provide a broad range of critical services from health care to children and family services, senior services, disaster relief, refugee services, disability support, housing, and employment support, among others.  Collectively, LSA members touch the lives of 1 in 50 Americans each year in thousands of communities across the United States.

Ranked at #25 on the Philanthropy 400, the LSA network represents close to $21 billion in combined annual revenues in the U.S. Our members employ close to 250,000 people in all 50 states and parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our members provide services to all, regardless of their religious affiliation, race, or social or economic background.

LSA works to ensure our members’ resilience in an increasingly evolving environment. Our newly revised mission is to “build valuable connections, amplify our voices and empower our members,” and our vision is a network of “connected, strong and thriving” members that “transform the lives of people and communities.” A distinguishing characteristic of our network is the deep trust and sharing that come from a shared set of values and goals. Our network strives to help people become self-sufficient so they can lead more independent, secure and higher quality lives. The deep trust facilitates rapid innovation and scale.

We help our members to build resilience through specialized programming for CEOs and executives; we also work to help build the capacity and infrastructure of our member organizations, for example by exploring new business models that can create more sustainable revenue streams. We also find opportunities for our 307 members to work together to achieve outcomes they couldn’t achieve on their own so they can grow and continue to serve their communities for generations to come.

Commerce in the Community: Rising Tide Capital works to improve traditionally disadvantaged communities by empowering local entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.

Alex Forrester, Co-Founder and Cheif Operations Officer of Rising Tide Capital

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Alex Forrester, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer of Rising Tide Capital, a nonprofit organization that provides high-quality business education and consulting to low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs in Northern NJ. Rising Tide Capital has achieved national recognition for its approach to economic empowerment of low-income individuals and communities through entrepreneurship. In 2009, Rising Tide Capital was selected as a CNN Hero and recognized by President Barack Obama in a White House speech on innovative non-profit organizations.

Q1: Tell us about Rising Tide Capital. What is your mission and main focus?

Rising Tide Capital is a nonprofit organization committed to the economic empowerment of low-income families and communities through entrepreneurship. By providing high-quality business education and consulting services and by partnering with local microfinance agencies, our goal is to help create jobs and economic opportunity in the neighborhoods that need them most by investing in the success of the talented men and women who live there.

We believe in the value of the work we do at Rising Tide Capital because it leverages an immense amount of entrepreneurial activity that is already going on in low-income neighborhoods and tries to invest in those efforts in ways that can confront the extremely challenging context of working poverty in modern America. Due to unemployment, underemployment, and low-wage work, many urban communities have large numbers of poor and working-poor families. These families struggle with financial self-sufficiency and often have difficulty covering basic expenses like rent and electricity. The emotional and psychological stress of financial insecurity—and the anxiety and depression that so often develops—is at the root of what keeps poor communities poor.

Commerce in the Community: Watershed Capital Utilizes Impact Investing as an Innovative Approach to Sustainable Community Development

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Shawn Lesser and Michael Whelchel, Co-founders and Partners at Watershed Capital Group. Prior to starting Watershed, Shawn sold institutional equities to European banks and Michael co-managed two private equity funds in the U.S.

Question 1: Tell us about Watershed Capital. What is your mission and main focus?
 
Watershed Capital Group (www.watershedcapital.com) is a boutique investment bank focused on the area of impact investments. Our mission is to scale impact investing with a specific emphasis on helping companies and funds raise capital and execute mergers and acquisitions. Over the past seven years, we've worked with over 20 sustainable companies and over 60 private equity funds.

Question 2: How is Watershed Capital Group working with the Department of Commerce to expand its impact?

In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Commerce around the Obama Administration's impact initiative, last October we organized the first impact and sustainable trade mission to Europe. Specifically, we brought together 10 US-based impact funds and introduced them to close to 90 European investors in London, Zurich and Amsterdam. The trade mission included high-level conversations about the impact investing space and was capped with a policy roundtable in London which brought together stakeholders both from the US and the UK.

Following up on the success of the first trade mission, last month we organized the second impact and sustainable trade mission to Nordic region with delegations meetings in Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki.  This October we will be returning to Europe the week of October 20th for the third impact and sustainable trade mission with delegation meetings in London, Zurich and Amsterdam.

Commerce in the Community: Korean Churches for Community Development works to strengthen local communities through organizational capacity building, leadership development and local partnerships.

Hyepin Im, Founder and President of Korean Churches for Community Development

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Hyepin Im, the Founder and President of Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD), the largest Asian faith-based organization involved in church and community development initiatives in the United States.

Question 1: Tell us about Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD). What is your mission and main focus?

Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD) was founded in 2001 with the vision to serve as a light and a bridge between the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and the greater community at large. We are today a national, award-winning nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the Asian American community's participation, contribution and influence through faith-based and community partnerships. We are unique in that we are the only Asian American organization in the country working in the intersection of church and community development. We can summarize our work into three buckets - building bridges, building capacity, and building resources.

Contrary to the model minority image of AAPI communities, when you disaggregate AAPI community data, many AAPI communities are suffering at comparable or even higher levels of poverty, juvenile delinquency, sickness, low homeownership rates, high school dropout rates, low wealth and other economic indicators with other known communities of color. However, because of the model minority myth, the AAPI community is often overlooked by policy makers and funders in investment, funding and program decisions.

Commerce in the Community: The Women’s Veterans Resources Center partners with churches, business and government to provide needed support to women who have served their country

Rev. Dr. Helen Fleming, who leads the Women’s Veterans Resource Center

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Rev. Dr. Helen Fleming, who leads the Women’s Veterans Resource Center. Rev. Dr. Fleming is pastor of the Douglas Memorial United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., a post she has served in since 2005.

Question 1: Tell us about the Women’s Veterans Resource Center. What is your mission and main focus?

The Women’s Veterans Resource Center was created in 2010 following a speaking engagement for the Women’s Rock Rally. I learned about the injustice that was happening in the military around women’s issues and I became concerned about women veterans who were homeless. I also realized that many churches did not have a veterans program for women.  As a result of these realities, I created the Women’s Veterans Resource Center, which offers a variety of resources in 11 different churches.  Our mission is to be the support to military and veteran women who need benefits, jobs, mental health care, clothing, food, counseling, housing and spiritual guidance. Our main focus is to keep the doors open to these vets and to be there as a refuge in their hopelessness whenever we are needed.

Question 2: How are you partnering with other groups in the community to expand economic opportunity?

We collaborate with every level of government Veterans Affairs offices, non- profit organizations, the business community and service organizations to host events that supply services and supplies to our veteran women.  Each quarter, we hold events such as benefit conferences, job development sessions and job fairs and clergy training sessions on how to treat our veterans. We also provide the clothing for the Women’s Rock Rally on Veterans Day at the ARC Center. Some of the churches are offering their parsonages in order to develop housing for our homeless. Emory UMC is digging ground on a large facility that will offer housing to the homeless veterans and others in need of housing. We’ve also held workshops on interview techniques, social media, business development and social etiquette classes in order to build self-esteem and confidence. All of our events are joint efforts with entities ranging from the White House to the Federal Women Veterans Affairs Office, the Department of Labor Veterans Affairs Office, the Mayors Veterans Affairs Office, Veterans Hospitals and other veterans agencies.

Question 3: If people want to learn more about the Women’s Veterans Resource Center, what should they do?

Contact Douglas Memorial UMC at 202-397-1562 and we will respond in a positive manner.

Commerce in the Community: World Relief provides impactful entrepreneurship and job training programs for vulnerable populations at home and abroad

Commerce in the Community: World Relief provides impactful entrepreneurship and job training programs for vulnerable populations at home and abroad

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

Below is an interview with Stephan Bauman, President and CEO of World Relief. Before coming to World Relief, Stephan served as Director of International Programs for World Hope International. He previously worked for Mercy Ships International directing programs and training for over 300 staff on the Anastasis, a hospital ship based in Africa. A Certified Public Accountant and minister, Stephen has also worked as a consultant for Anderson and Co. 

Q1: Tell us about World Relief. What is your mission and main focus? 

World Relief was founded in 1945 by the National Association of Evangelicals to provide humanitarian assistance in war-torn Europe. We have since evolved into an organization working in 14 countries around the world and in 25 cities in the United States to empower local churches to serve the most vulnerable.

Q2: How are you working to expand opportunity domestically and internationally? 

We believe in empowering the most vulnerable so that they can create their own solutions and meet their own needs. Through the power of Agri-business, Microfinance and Savings Groups, World Relief equips small business owners with the skills, capital and resources necessary to develop successful, self-sustaining businesses. We believe when given the tools to protect and leverage their financial assets, these entrepreneurs will be able to participate in the transformation of their local communities.

Commerce in the Community: The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. works to strengthen businesses, increase exports and create jobs in communities around the country

Commerce in the Community: The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. works to strengthen businesses, increase exports and create jobs in communities around the country

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans. 

Below is an interview with Toya Powell, Vice President of Operations for the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC). A former real estate economist at Property & Portfolio Research, Inc. (PPR), Toya previously served as a Business Opportunity Specialist at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), an economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and a realtor in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. 

Q1: Tell us about US Black Chambers, Inc. What is your mission and what are your key priorities? 

The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) is led by our President & CEO, Ron Busby Sr., and supports 114 affiliated member Chambers in 25 states and 240,000 businesses through Five Pillars of Service: Advocacy, Access to Capital, Contracting, Entrepreneur Training, and Chamber Development. Our mission is to provide committed, visionary leadership and advocacy in the realization of economic empowerment. Through the creation of resources and initiatives, we support African American Chambers of Commerce and business organizations in their work of developing and growing Black enterprises. 

Q2: In what ways are you working to expand opportunity in hard-hit communities across the US? 

USBC is working to expand opportunity in hard-hit communities across the U.S. through our Solutions Series where we focus on connecting our chambers and businesses to the public and private sector resources they need to be successful through Access to Capital, Contracting, and Entrepreneur Development. Since we launched the Solutions Series in 2012, we have been to communities from coast-to-coast in Phoenix, AZ; Charlotte, NC; Miami, FL; Austin, TX; Columbus, OH; Las Vegas, NV; Atlanta, GA, Kansas, City, KS with more cities ahead. In addition, this year we will host our 4th annual signature conference - the USBC School of Chamber and Business Management - on Tuesday, July 8th through Friday, July 11th at the brand new Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC. This conference convenes our chamber leaders from across the country and our Top 100 business owners, helping them to refine their leadership skills and gain access to viable opportunities in the public and private sectors.