Conchita Cruz: Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) Co-Director & Co-Founder

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My Native Admission Statement: I am a relentless advocate. When presented with a problem, I see it as a challenge to come up with a creative solution. My goal is to use the power that comes along with my U.S. citizenship and my education to fight for the rights of refugees and immigrants.

How did you get into the industry?:

I am the daughter of a formerly undocumented Guatemalan immigrant, and a Cuban asylum seeker who came to the United States as an unaccompanied minor. From a young age, immigration issues were all around me as family members and friends struggled with whether to get on a raft to flee Cuba, or travel to the Mexico-U.S. border to cross the Rio Grande in search of a better life. That experience led me to the immigrants’ rights movement, where I worked as an organizer, interpreter, and on one occasion as a Spanish-language radio personality in South Carolina. I thought I could make a difference in government, and worked at both the federal and state level to advance immigrants’ rights issues. But after it became clear that large scale reform of our immigration system was many years away, I decided to go to law school to work on cases one at a time, help families navigate our broken immigration system, and change the law through the courts.

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Joel Berg: Hunger Free America CEO

Joel Berg Highlights

Joel Berg Highlights

My Native Admission Statement: I simple can’t tolerate that the United States – the wealthiest nation in the history of the world – allows 40 million Americans, including 12 million children, to struggle against hunger. That reality offends me to my core. That’s why I have dedicated most of my adult life to building the movement to end hunger in America. I seek to achieve that historic, but achievable, goal – or die trying!

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:

I’ve proposed innovative HOPE (Health, Opportunity, and Personal Empowerment) accounts and action plans. HOPE accounts would combine improved technology, streamlined case management, and coordinated access to multiple federal, state, city, and nonprofit programs that already exist. The accounts would enable families to use any smart device or computer to learn about the public and philanthropic programs for which they are eligible—including aid to improve health, nutrition, job training and placement, housing, income, etc.—and then apply for all of these programs at once from the convenience of their device, drastically reducing the opportunity costs of low-income Americans seeking social services. Such accounts would also be able to include any private savings that people are able to accrue. The proposal includes the option of allowing low-income families to partner more in depth with government and nonprofit organizations by voluntarily agreeing to long-term HOPE action plans that will provide more aid and then specify exactly how all parties will work together to help the families earn, learn, and save better to ensure greater economic opportunity.

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Jessica Waite: The Berry Good Food Foundation President

Jessica Waite Highlights

Jessica Waite Highlights

My Native Admission Statement: I have been passionate about nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices since childhood, becoming a vegetarian at age seven and exploring veganism by my mid-teens. I majored in psychology and biology at California State University San Marcos and planned to study medicine. After interning for several years at a local hospital I became determined to be part of the solution in a preventative way. In 2012 I paired up with Davin Waite, a creative chef with a love for cooking with veggies. We co-founded the restaurants Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub and The Whet Noodle. Both restaurants focus on sourcing locally and minimizing waste through total utilization. Our next project will be a chain of restaurants called The Plot, which will feature an entirely plant-based menu and emphasize zero-waste operations. I recently earned my MBA at Pepperdine University, and became president of the Berry Good Food Foundation. I have begun speaking publicly about the benefits building relationships in our food communities, most recently to students, cancer-survivors, and as a moderator at the Chef’s Roll anti-convention.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:

My restaurants align with my personal values; the evolution of our operations has been guided by my efforts to create a sustainable business model. My work with the Berry Good Food Foundation has contributed to this momentum. One of the goals of BGFF is to facilitate relationships in the local food community. Through this foundation I have formed countless relationships that helped me to guide my businesses in a more locally focused and regenerative direction. I cannot overstate the impact that aligning with other food advocates has had on our business. We (my husband and I) have had the opportunity to create a platform for education about creative solutions in our food industry. We constantly learn from our community partners, and there is a huge amount of synergy stemming from this collaboration. My inspiration for this business is to continue to evolve and grow in a way that demonstrates that it is very possible to build successful businesses in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

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Angelou Ezeilo: Greening Youth Foundation Founder & CEO

Angelou Ezeilo Highlights

Angelou Ezeilo Highlights

My Native Admission Statement: I am a lover of life and culture.  Give me ethnic dance, music and food – all kinds, and I am quite a happy camper.  I enjoy travelling with my partner of almost 25 years around the globe agitating systems and creating new ones.  I get really giddy hearing about my two young adult sons’ life adventures because they will never be too old to be my babies.  I probably enjoy wine more than most- especially a good Malbec or Cabernet.  In fact, I am researching how to have my own backyard vineyard on our property in Nigeria.  Life is so precious.  I spend a lot of time loving on my family and close friends because why not!

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business? Relationships with different colleges and universities have propelled GYF onto a national platform. Once students became aware of our offerings, they spread the news to their peers. Engaging more students gives us the justification to create more opportunities with new partners- great cycle.

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Wendy Day: Rap Coalition Founder

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My Native Admission Statement: I am a woman who has built a career on helping rap artists while living my dreams. I fell in love with rap music in 1980, and in 1992 built Rap Coalition, a not-for-profit artist advocacy organization to help educate and support rap artists, and break unfair contracts in the music business. I enjoy building millionaires. I’m in the process of building an incubator for rappers so I can positively impact more careers. I am most proud of my Youtube channel. Most people can’t afford to hire me, so in 2016, I started building a Youtube channel with free how-to videos about succeeding in the music industry. The channel is youtube.com/ThisIsWendyDay. My clients have gone on to sell over a billion albums during my 27 year career. I want to make an even bigger impact with rappers—help them fund, market, and promote their music and help build even more successful careers.

My Biggest Success?

(I’ve been fortunate to have done some of the best deals in urban music. I’m best-known for negotiating the $30 million Cash Money deal at Universal. But the truth is that I’m more proud of some other deals that I’ve done that empower rappers and teach them how to run their own companies. I’m also proud of my relationship with my husband, Tony. We met while he was incarcerated—at the end of a 17 year sentence he was serving in the Feds. Most people would have looked past him but he’s such an amazing person and after 7 years, I’m as in love with him as I was in the beginning of our relationship. I’m grateful everyday to have him in my life.

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Lisa Feria: Stray Dog Capital CEO

My Native Admission Statement: Stray Dog Capital is a mission-driven Venture Capital firm that drives alternatives to the use of animals in the supply chain through investments, expertise and support: Investing for a better future for all animals. Stray Dog Capital wants a world in which all animals live in peaceful co-existence. My aspirations are to o help the world shift into food consumption that is better for you (health wise), has a lighter footprint on the environment and is better for animals. To raise empathetic, driven and caring men that will do the right thing, no matter what others say. To have a strong, long lasting and growing marriage. To have adventures in this world and never stop growing and learning. I saw a video on animal production (slaughterhouses) and immediately became vegetarian – after that it was a quick shift into wanting to align my principals with my everyday work. Stray Dog Capital and I found each other pretty quickly.

Emerging industry trends?:

Plant based is everywhere and ever-growing. The shift into consuming less animal products has been driven by Millennials but followed by other generations (due to health concerns.) It’s great news for the environment, animals – and our business!

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Elizabeth John: PowerMyLearning Executive Director

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My Native Admission Statement: At PowerMyLearning, we believe that the most important adults in shaping a student’s education are their teachers and family members. Through our work, we hope to empower these adults to meet the individual needs of each child. We can do this in a number of ways, including coaching teachers and parent coordinators, facilitating bilingual family workshops at schools, and leveraging our online platform, PowerMyLearning Connect.

How did you get into the industry?:

I started teaching math after I graduated college through the New York City Teaching Fellows program. I knew I wanted to be in education since high school, but I didn’t realize that there were so many ways to get involved outside of teaching. I started at my first nonprofit in 2007 managing educational programs, and have been in the industry ever since. What brought me to PowerMyLearning was their holistic approach to improving education by strengthening the relationships between students, teachers and families.

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Joan Hornig: Designer, Philanthropy is Beautiful®

My Native Admission Statement: In my 20’s, I worked in alumni and corporate fundraising at Harvard College and Columbia Business School. Through these positions I gained invaluable experience in counseling, advising and an introduction to business leaders and corporate structure. My 30’s and 40’s brought my first exposure to the boy’s club of Wall Street. I learned to hold my own in a room full of men and honed my skills with a wide range of responsibilities from management of cost centers to management of assets. By my 50’s and early 60’s I started flexing my entrepreneurial muscles by founding Philanthropy is Beautiful® Jewelry which has a social impact model of connecting consumerism with activism and tying it to philanthropy. I created an innovative business model where 100% of my profit on each purchase is donated to the charitable organization of the purchaser’s choice. I have since used my platform to increase equal opportunities for all. I currently focus on leveling the playing field for women and marginalized populations through an affiliation with The Female Quotient working on retail, impact, opportunity and messaging through my jewelry designs.

My Motto?

We are more similar than different – We all want to be safe, happy, loved and loving.

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MALLORY NEUBERGER: Author of "Sober.House" & The Frog Pad Executive Director

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My Native Admission Statement: My name is Mallory Neuberger. I’m a cocaine addict and an alcoholic in recovery, and becoming an addict is the best thing that ever happened to me–once I got sober. Since that day, my life has become all about staying sober, living my best self, and helping other addicts and alcoholics to find lasting sobriety and happiness, free from the substances that want us all miserable and dead. We are only as sick as our secrets. Today I wear the things that were killing me on my sleeve. I have a disease called addiction. It is not my fault so please don’t judge me for it.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

My houses are a legacy to my mother, who died from alcoholism. She collected frogs, and my first house sits on a canal covered with lily pads. There was a shortage of women’s sober houses in South Florida (there were nine men’s houses for every women’s), so I set out to create beautiful, safe, serene houses for women, where they could find recovery, friendship, accountability, and fun, ultimately living the lives that they want and deserve. I have two houses in Delray Beach, Florida and I am open to creating more nearby and in other areas that I love.

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Allison Alt: Social Impact 360 Executive Director

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My Native Admission Statement: “Buy this car to drive to work. Drive to work to pay for this car.” We aren’t going to be doing this anymore. I’m changing the future of business with the next generation. There is no reason we can’t have meaning and purpose in our work, and there is no reason we can’t solve important issues that matter to all of us in a financially sustainable way. Too long, it has been a choice, do well or do good. Make money or live a meaningful life. No more.

Social Impact 360 is a Teach for America meets Tesla.  We train young people to build businesses that solve social issues and how to create social impact in corporate America. We have more than 1,000 alumni who are young CEO’s and young innovators at top companies, and we are transforming into the Service Corps for Business for Good. The purpose of the Service Corps is to train companies in how to solve pain points using corporate social responsibility and sustainability concepts because everyone should have the opportunity to “do well and do good” no matter where you work. Everyone should feel meaning and purpose in what they do, and we shouldn’t struggle for resources to do important, good, and meaningful work.

My Current Passions?

I’m a music addict. I listen to music as if it’s going to run out of supply. I’m an artist at heart.

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Elsie McCabe Thompson: NYC Mission Society President

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My Native Admission Statement: When I wake up in the morning, I set an intention to do one more thing that helps one more person. I make it a personal mission to encourage staff, volunteers, and donors to join me in building that momentum. I believe that together, we can move each other and our community members one more step forward, one day at a time. Offer help to others, not because it feels good for you, but because it simply is good. I think everyone should try one thing that makes you just a little bit scared every year—to push our comfort zones. We have to dare to do things we never thought we could. At Mission, we use this philosophy to help innovate all of our programs and services.

What do you love most about Your City?

The subways, full stop. There is simply no other city in the world that brings together so many different types of people into the same space, at the same time. This is where we witness humanity and the beauty of diversity in its fullest form. I truly prefer lunch and dinner foods to traditional breakfasts. If I had to choose, I would say Il Café Latte on Lenox between 119th and 120th streets.

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Claire Babineaux-Fontenot: CEO, Feeding America

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Bio: I am a Louisiana native who is fortunate to have been part of a very loving and very large family. Over the course of their lives, my mother and father raised 108 children. My upbringing shaped my life by making me aware and grateful. Aware of my privileges and grateful enough to work really hard when I was given an opportunity—from schooling, to tax attorney for the state of Louisiana, labor and employment judge, to executive vice president of finance and global treasurer and then chief tax officer at Walmart. All of my experiences led me to where I am now—working to end hunger for millions of families as CEO of Feeding America.

My Goal of the Day: Move the needle on something that matters.

My Thought of the Day: Be the change you wish to see—NOW!!

My Action of the Day: Decide everything that I can today.

My Deed of the Day: See someone new today—don’t look past anyone.

My Tip of the Day: Gratitude is an Action

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

Its diversity. Chicago has over 70 diverse neighborhoods. It’s so full of unique people with different lifestyles, interests and contributions.  Oh, did I mention the food? Chicago has taught me that there’s more to pizza here than deep dish and that there’s more to the Chicago food scene than pizza!

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant? 

Cracker Barrell—best pancakes in the universe.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Chatting with my husband about the day ahead. By the way, I’m the only “morning person” in our pair. Need I say more about why he’s my guy?

10:00 AM – Meeting with Feeding America’s chief human resources officer.

12:00 PM – Getting ready to be interviewed on CNN.

7:00 PM – Visiting my grand-dog Veela, at my son’s apartment and Facetiming my daughter to get her in on the fun.

11:00 PM – Sleeping!

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Green tea (3 or so, depending upon how awake I need to be).

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

I just listened to “The Devil in the White City” on Audible. I learned so much about my new city while driving to Louisiana for Christmas (with Veela).  

What should everyone try at least once?

Boudin! It’s a delicious, spicy Creole/Cajun sausage from my hometown of Opelousas, Louisiana.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

In a library or a clothing store—too close to call.

Abigail Disney: CEO, Fork Films & Founder, Peace is Loud Charity

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Bio: Abigail E. Disney is a filmmaker, philanthropist, activist, and the Emmy-winning director of The Armor of Light. As CEO and president of Fork Films, the documentary production company behind the groundbreaking Pray the Devil Back to Hell and PBS series Women, War & Peace, Abigail is committed to stories that create dialogue across divides and move the needle on social change. She has executive produced and supported over 90 projects through Fork Films’ funding program. Additionally, Abigail is the founder and president of Peace is Loud, a nonprofit that uses media and live events to highlight stories of women stepping up for peace. Recently, Abigail co-founded Level Forward, a new entertainment model and enterprise in which profit and principle go hand in hand. The company, formed in partnership with Killer Content, builds on the legacy of making stories that matter, with a commitment to innovation, inclusion and impact.

My Goal of the Day:

To try as hard as I can to leave the world better than I found it every single day.

My Thought of the Day:

You can’t do anything alone, so find partners.  At the same time, don’t wait for others to start.  Get out there and lead.

My Action of the Day:

Connecting.  Above all connecting.

My Deed of the Day:

Supporting other filmmakers.  I feel an intense responsibility to look after not only my own work, but to support the work of others who might not have the access and privilege that I have.  So I spend a lot of time doing as much as I can to help other filmmakers. 🙂

My Tip of the Day:

I have never, ever regretted a decision I made that required either courage or generosity.  Everything might not always have worked as I’d have wished, but even when that happened, something good always ultimately resulted.  

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?  

I love that my city, New York, is a big bubbling stew of people and art and ideas and politics and business.  Everybody is either there, or has been there or wants to go there and when they get there everything speeds up.  New York is my non stop injection of adrenaline and joy.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

I am not a big fan of breakfast.  I usually eat it out of necessity.  Le pain Quotidien is right by my office and has great avocado toast which wards off hunger for hours.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Oh my god is anyone really awake at 6???

10:00 AM – Hopefully I’ve finished my work out and most of the email that came in overnight and early in the morning.

12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

Usually having lunch meeting and it changes locations all the time.  Big salad with some protein.

7:00 PM – If I’m lucky, I’m having dinner with one of my kids or a friend or my husband.  But more often I am somewhere I have to be.  Meeting, conference, airplane, fundraiser.

11:00 PM – Trying to unwind.  The problem with my addiction to adrenaline is the unwinding.  I usually read a novel or something till I fall asleep.  If I’m being dumb and compulsive, I’m on email again, trying to catch up on all that came in over the day.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?  

I apologize that it is Diet Coke, but I try to keep it to one or two a day.  Beyond that it is sparkling water with a little bit of cranberry juice and lime.  If you put it in a martini glass you look like you are celebrating with a cosmo.

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?  

Twitter.  I don’t know why I love Twitter. It kind of brings the worst out in people.  But I love the occasional snark.  My favorite account is @floridaman

What should everyone try at least once?

I am tempted to say scuba diving, but that’s not very realistic for everyone.  I do think everyone should try to learn an instrument at some point in their lives.  I didn’t take piano lessons until I was in my forties, but I learned so much about music, even if I’m a terrible piano player!!

Where do you enjoy getting lost?  

Two places.  Bookstores.  And cooking stores.

Twitter

Facebook

Shannon Kenny: Founder, Mama Eco

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How did you get into the industry?

Even as a kid, I was collecting trash on the beach and encouraging my family to conserve water. And after spending years at a day job that completely sucked the life out of me, I knew I had to find a career that was more fulfilling and had purpose. I spent two years trying out business ideas that would allow me to fuse my passion into something I could support myself on. And after several iterations, and a few learning experiences along the way, I shifted towards what I now call: Mama Eco 2.0. An online resource for people who want to live sustainably but don’t know where to start.

Kelly Bleach: Former Chief Business Officer, American Foundation for the Blind

My NativeAdVice:

Bio:

Former Chief Business Officer at American Foundation for the Blind, current part-time Project Manager and Doctoral Student Kelly Bleach has focused her career on applying forward-thinking management practices to the nonprofit sector, including 25 years at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB),

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Beth Shapiro: Executive Director, Citymeals on Wheels

My NativeAdVice:

Bio:

Beth Shapiro has been Executive Director of Citymeals on Wheels since September 2011. Under her leadership, Citymeals launched Chefs Deliver, which takes some of the city’s best chefs out of their kitchens to deliver restaurant quality meals to their frail aged neighbors

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Caragh Bennet & Loren Thomas: Co-Founders: Tribe + Glory

Our NativeAdVice:

Bio:

Loren Thomas and Caragh Bennet are Co-Founders of Tribe + Glory, a jewelry line handcrafted by artisans in Uganda, is in the business of saying yes to big dreams. They continue to empower and activate female entrepreneurs to achieve self sustainability through relationship, craftsmanship, and entrepreneurship.

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Bengt Rittri: Founder & Chairman, Bluewater

My NativeAdVice:

Bio:

Bengt Rittri is a Swedish environmental entrepreneur who is committed to protecting and improving human and planetary health by helping to create a more sustainable future. A father of two children, Bengt believes having access to clean water and air is a basic human right

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Shelley Callahan: Author & Director of Development, Children Incorporated

My NativeAdVice:

Bio:

Shelley Callahan, Director of Development at Children Incorporated, has traveled extensively across the U.S. and around the world reporting on the burden of poverty and working to support communities in need. She is truly an inspiring individual who lives out her passion day in and day out. From digging wells in Colombia, managing medical teams in Haiti,

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HEATHER NASHELLE COLLARD: FOUNDER, NASHELLE

My NativeAdVice:

Bio:

With Alaskan roots, Heather Nashelle has drawn inspiration from the changing of seasons and nature, juxtaposing angular gems and hand hammered metals, since she took her first metals class at University of Alaska Southeast. Heather discovered Bend, Oregon as a runaway bride bound for California to design, ironically, engagement rings.

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