Three Women Igniting Social Change in Second Careers

This blog includes several of links to explore, including the three outstanding organizations started by these three women.

Ignite ladies

For the second year, the Levin Jewish Community Center in Durham, North Carolina is coordinating a fantastic series called “Ignite Talks,” which presents local leaders in the business community as social innovators. FYI, link to last year’s blog where I featured Jim Whitehurst, President and CEO of Red Hat; and Kevin McDonald, founder and CEO of TROSA (Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers.)

The latest session I attended on December 4, 2014 was titled “Next Chapter: 3 Women, 2nd Careers, 1st Rate Leaders.” All three women started new ventures later in their careers which contributed substantially to our community and world. The three women:

• Debbie Horowitz, whose earlier career included being a real estate appraiser and breastfeeding counselor. She then founded PORCH, Inc., a grassroots hunger relief organization fully staffed by volunteers executing local neighborhood food drives.

• Carrie Norry, after spending her early years as a homemaker and raising a family, formed “JUST TRYAN IT,” which empowers children to compete in triathalon type events to raise money for childhood catastrophic diseases.

• Pat Nathan, retired as a Microsoft business executive and then founded the local Triangle, NC “Dress for Success” affiliate in 2008. Her organization promotes economic success for disadvantaged women by providing professional attire and other networking and career development support.

After sharing a little about their journeys and their ventures, these outstanding women shared some practically advice. First, challenges and learning from them:
• The importance of balancing time and setting boundaries.
• Recognizing where you need help – can’t do it all!
• Don’t doubt yourself and your capabilities.

Second, closing advice:
• If you have a dream, and idea, just go for it!
• Look for open doors leading your way and be inspired by them.
• Prepare yourself to be open; be willing to let something speak to you.

These three women as well as the entire Ignite Series demonstrates that each of us can indeed step out and do something to make a significant impact for good in our community and the world.

Closing Note: For my own personal venture, I am working with a coalition of partners to build a community center in Mtito Andei, Kenya, one of the most impoverished areas of East Africa. I look to have some significant news and progress to share within a few months.

Ignite Talks – Local Leaders as Social Innovators

Please do notice and use the many bolded underlined hot links to additional information on the internet!

Kevin McDonald, founder and CEO of TROSA, was the second speaker of the Ignite series

Kevin McDonald, founder and CEO of TROSA, was the second speaker of the Ignite series

This Fall, I have started to attend a unique innovative series called the “Ignite Talks” offered by the Levin Jewish Community Center in Durham, North Carolina. Ignite is a networking and educational forum offered to members of our local community. Through talks and interviews with business and community leaders, the series provides a unique venue to promote social responsibility, community building and continuing education.

The first two sessions could not have offered two more contrasting, different speakers: one a Harvard MBA and CEO of a major technology firm, and the other a high school graduate who spent many years as a drug addict living on the streets before starting a successful impactful community organization. And though these two men appear to be polar opposites, they both offered the consistent message on how leaders can make a profound, positive impact on communities and the world.

Jim Whitehurst, CEO and President of Red Hat spoke on September 17, 2013, on “The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility in Building a High Performing Culture.” Two of his main points:
1. It has to go beyond simply writing a check – that is too easy. It is important to find participatory ways to engage in community volunteerism. And corporate leaders should be role models and set an example by participating in active, visible community efforts.
2. Corporations that promote community involvement should do so in ways that will resonate and connect with their employees and that are aligned with their corporate mission. He offered an example of Red Hat’s commitment to “open sourcing” that aligns with community efforts to provide free access to important information and applications.

Kevin McDonald along with other TROSA staff and the TROSA clients, training to work in the food industry and serving that morning's breakfast

Kevin McDonald along with other TROSA staff and the TROSA clients, training to work in the food industry and serving that morning’s breakfast

Kevin McDonald, founder and CEO of TROSA (Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers), spoke on November 12, 2013. TROSA is the largest residential substance-abuse treatment program in North Carolina in North Carolina and a model of social entrepreneurship. After narrating his own personal journey, Kevin shared about the TROSA business model, which connects with the community and develops program graduates who gain skills to make a positive impact on the community through jobs and community service. TROSA’s intense two-year program has an extremely low relapse rate (15%) compared to national averages. Kevin applied the hard lessons he learned on the streets of Los Angeles with his intense commitment to community and people to start and build this very successful program.

So Jim Whitehurst and Kevin McDonald come from two extremely different environments, but both are leading for positive community impact within their spheres. This demonstrates to all us, that no matter our backgrounds nor vocation, we can each align our personal passions and the current environment we are in to ignite impact on our communities.

Link here for more information on the Ignite Series and to enroll, support and attend.