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American Express Accepts 9 Outstanding SEA Members to Leadership Academy

Posted on March 12, 2014 in SEA News

In January, SEA was honored to be invited by the American Express to nominate several member organizations for participation in the American Express Leadership Academy. We are beyond thrilled that 9 of our nominees were selected as participants!

The Academy is designed to equip high potential emerging leaders in the nonprofit sector to become successful executives. This robust and comprehensive program focuses on both the people skills and the business skills required for successful leadership. The participants will spend 5 days in New York with a group of 48 emerging leaders from across the country.

Congratulations to Luanda (Catalyst Kitchens), Adrianne (Juma Ventures), LaMecia (REDF), Maria (Catholic Charities USA), Jonathan (AspenPointe), Anastasiya (RSF Social Finance), Mary (Humanim), Mario (Benetech), and Madeline (Social Enterprise Alliance)!

And a great thank you to American Express for its support of the next generation of social enterprise leaders!


Jim Schorr

Luanda Arai is the Network Advancement Manager at Catalyst Kitchens – a collaborative network of organizations with a shared vision to empower lives through job training, self-generate revenue through social enterprise, and nourish bodies and minds through quality foodservice. 

Luanda is currently transitioning to a role at Building Changes' as a manager on the grant making team. She will provide support to grantees and potential grantees – facilitating investment in innovative solutions to family homelessness. She will also evaluate programs and documents learning to further Building Changes' collaborative approach to addresses the complexity of homelessness. 


Jim Schorr

Adriane Gamble Armstrong is the Chief Program Officer at Juma Ventures.  Her role includes oversight of Juma’s workforce development, financial capability and college success programs in seven cities: San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, San Diego, Seattle, New Orleans and New York City.

At Juma, Adriane's accomplishments include the launch of CollegeSet, a $2m initiative to provide low-income youth with financial capability training and savings accounts; and the launch of Aspire, an AT&T-funded initiative to reduce high school drop-out rates by engaging middle school students in literacy, math, financial capability and career exposure. During her tenure, Juma has experienced a 100% high school graduation rate and 98% of students have matriculated to post-secondary education.


LaMecia Butler is the Portfolio Manager at Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF), a nonprofit intermediary that provides funding and technical assistance to the employment social enterprises which hire individuals with barriers to employment.  Her work includes acting as a business mentor and providing hands-on strategic technical assistance to REDF’s portfolio of social enterprises in Northern and Southern California.

She supports REDF’s portfolio management efforts, conducts due diligence, and contributes to REDF’s overall strategic development. In addition, LaMecia works on REDF’s field building and knowledge development by developing and executing the strategy for the national employment social enterprise group, SE4Jobs.  


Maria Gonzales is the Director of Social Policy and External Affairs Projects at Catholic Charities USA.  Her work includes both internal and external communications, development, and social policy initiatives regarding poverty reduction.   

Maria’s current focus is on social innovation and social enterprise within the Catholic Charities network.  She is the lead on the creation of Catholic Charities USA’s own social enterprise, which focuses on language translation and interpretation services, and the Social Venture Boot Camp offered annually in partnership with the University of Notre Dame. She frequently presents on social enterprise and digital media at Catholic Charities trainings across the country. 


Madeline Graham currently serves as Chapter Services Leader at Social Enterprise Alliance. She is responsible for facilitating engaged communications and ensuring strategic coherence between SEA's national office and the 15 SEA chapters nationwide. Along with the rest of the SEA team, she also plans and executes SEA's annual national Summits.

Madeline’s current focus is on project managing a major membership and strategic shift which will include a new technology platform, a new membership structure, and a reimagined relationship with chapters at SEA. She is also working hard to execute SEA’s Summit 14 in Nashville.


Jonathan Liebert is the Vice President of AspenPointe Enterprises, a Social Enterprise dedicated to solving prevalent social issues to improve the lives of disenfranchised Coloradans by providing Employment, Training and Education services. Mr. Liebert has been with AspenPointe for over 12 years and has a Masters in Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education from the University of Colorado Health and Sciences Center. 

Mr. Liebert is published in Behavioral Healthcare for the ACCESS Model, an innovative approach to improve an individuals’ psychological health through employment.  Mr. Liebert is one of the co-creators of the Peer Navigator Model, which navigates military service members and their families through complex systems of care and helps them gain employment. 


Anastasiya Litvinova is the Credit & Portfolio Manager of Social Enterprise Lending at RSF Social Finance. RSF is a non-profit organization providing catalytic capital to mission-aligned enterprises focused on creating deep social, economic and environmental impact. Her work includes managing the due diligence, underwriting and structuring of social enterprise loans, as well as portfolio risk monitoring and analysis.  

As RSF positions itself to compete better against for-profit peers and offer a uniquely valuable partnership to its clients, Anastasiya’s current focus is on implementing process improvements on the Lending Team and leading strategic initiatives.


Mary Manzoni is the Vice President of Workforce Development Services at Humanim Inc.  Mary has over 25 years experience in working with individuals with disabilities and barriers to employment. 

Mary oversees all of the workforce development services provided by Humanim in the central Maryland region.   Her focus throughout her career has been on workforce development and investing in human capital and providing people with the necessary tools and supports needed to obtain and maintain employment.



Mario Oliveros is the Senior Marketing Manager for Global Literacy Initiatives at Benetech. His work helps drive the adoption of innovative technologies that address unmet social needs, particularly in the field of education.

Mario’s focus is on developing and executing strategies to scale adoption of accessible eBooks and reading tools that currently help over 275,000 students with print disabilities to read and study. He also helps in creating systemic change by promoting accessibility standards to influence the educational technology and publishing fields. 


SEA Welcomes New Staff Member: Colleen MacDonald, Project and Office Coordinator

Posted on January 15, 2014 in SEA News


Hello SEA Members and Supporters! I wanted to introduce myself, as I am the newest addition to the SEA staff in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I will be taking on the project and office operations and ensuring that the office is providing members effective, efficient and timely support and resources. Furthermore, I will be providing backup support and strategy to make Summit 14 in April a high quality experience for members. I am excited about the opportunity to work with SEA and see the mission of the organization as being necessary and relevant to creating sustainable positive social change.

My enthusiasm and interest in SEA arises from 6 years of living abroad in Azerbaijan, Russia and China. While I worked in many different sectors (human rights organizations, social research and academia) I noticed certain commonalities: organizations were very insular, support from governments was nearly non-existent and many entrepreneurs failed due to lack of business knowledge. I realized that key to an organizations success was not only a savvy business sense, but also collaborative idea sharing, supporting policies and a wide network of like-minded people. In working with SEA I can realize my part in supporting an organization that I believe fills a needed gap in community and economic development. Therefore, I look forward to continuing the support of members, innovating new ways of expanding the network of social enterprise, and working with members to bring the mission of socially conscious business to the forefront of economic development.

Check out her bio on the staff page



Top 5 Successes from the Twin Cities Social Enterprise Marketplace

Posted on October 15, 2013 in Chapter News

by Beth Parkhill, Twin Cities Chapter Chair

It all started with a challenge from Kevin Lynch: recruit 50 social enterprises for the Summit trade show. Considering that our fairly young chapter had roughly 100 members, and less than 50% were social enterprises, it was a daunting task — on top of co-hosting the SEA Summit 2013! Even though we had never attempted anything of this size, the opportunity was too great to pass up. Thanks to an incredible amount of work by SEATC volunteers, the Marketplace was a resounding success. The key successes were:

1. Focus on Sales

Although we had been reaching out to potential members, the Marketplace was a concrete example of something unique we could offer. This large-scale event focused on them — providing a real sales opportunity. We chose to exclusively promote local social enterprise products and services as door prizes. It is part of our strategy to encourage social enterprises to buy from one another. Thousands of dollars worth of prizes were donated — and lots of attendees came away winners!

2.  Large Scale Event Put Us On the Map

The scale made a huge difference; it was a perfect complement to our monthly topic-specific educational events and member tours. Bringing 50 highly diverse social enterprises together quickly proved that there was a large eco-system already here. Funders, politicians, community leaders, consultants, and others could physically see what a difference we could make! A highlight was St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman presenting the Social Enterprise Week proclamation. Our chapter’s connections grew significantly — and improved the visibility of all the social enterprises showcased at the Marketplace.

3.  Inclusive for All (Thank you, United Way!)

Because this was the very first time a social enterprise tradeshow had ever been held in Minnesota, people were interested — but it wasn’t a proven success.  Would any vendor sign-up? Would buyers come? A key sponsorship from the United Way provided automatic credibility. Many social enterprises had never participated in a trade show before. By eliminating exhibitor fees, both start-ups and industry leaders were willing to try it. The next hurtle was attracting buyers, influencers and funders. We personally invited business and government purchasing staff, associations, government officials (i.e., city council, economic development, governor’s office), chambers of commerce, consultants, and more. Because attendance was free, everyone could attend.

4.  Dynamic Collaboration

There’s nothing quite like the energy of fully engaged people sharing experiences and knowledge! It was a diverse group, including start-ups (Beez Kneez), youth training (Genesys Works), arts co-working space (Intermedia Arts), B-Lab Certified (thedatabank), micro-lending for farmers (Renewing the Countryside), economic development (Hmong American Partnership), philanthropy (Finnegans beer), workforce development (Momentum Enterprises), a lender (Nonprofit Assistance Fund), and others. So many new relationships were made that night.

5. Strategic Media Partnership

Our relationship started when Minnesota Business magazine featured the Marketplace in May and offered special rates for vendors. Since then, we’ve started a strategic partnership with them. Not only are they committed to covering social enterprise from a business standpoint (vs human-interest), we will start blogging for them, too!    


Our hardworking Marketplace team

Back row: Beth Mammenga, Steve Lockwood, Beth Megas, Andrea West, Scott Cole, Tom Triplett, Brian Paulson, Josh Senso Front row: Laurel Hansen, Colleen Ebinger, Beth Parkhill, Steven Olinger, Mary Serie, Kari Niedfelt-Thomas, Jack Katzmark

We’d be remiss not to thank the national SEA team for their work on the printed and online program and registration — and great food!

Because of the Marketplace, we have connected the social enterprise community in a new way and are moving ahead with new awareness, new members and new strategic partners.  

Learn more about SEA Twin Cities Chapter here!



SEA-Chicago and the Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Enterprise: A Strategic Partnership

Posted on September 16, 2013 in Chapter News

by Marc Lane, Chicago Chapter Chair

When Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the State’s L3C bill into law late in 2009, the leadership of Social Enterprise Alliance’s new Chicago chapter - - SEA’s first chapter - - seized the opportunity to unite and energize the Chicago area’s leading nonprofits, entrepreneurs, socially conscious individuals, foundations, thought leaders and impact investors. The message couldn’t have been timelier: the Great Recession was already taking its tragic toll on the neediest among us, yet many of the State’s charities, suffering cuts in grants and subsidies, saw no obvious alternative but to curb services. Yet, social enterprise advocates knew that the Low-profit Limited Liability Company, a new business form intended to facilitate foundations’ program-related investments for charitable or educational purposes, might help rescue the social sector by empowering it to diversify revenue sources, tap into market efficiencies and achieve scale. So SEA-Chicago made it its mission to educate agents of change about the new opportunities social enterprises present. From that fortuitous beginning, the chapter continues to grow, inform and foster collaboration.

But the L3C also proved to be a catalyst in another way. The bill had been unanimously approved by both houses of the Illinois General Assembly. Democrats recognized that the L3C would contribute to the social safety net while Republicans applauded the structure as a private-sector response to social problems. 

Now that the Governor and all the legislators were on record as supporting social enterprises, the strategic question became: how do we build on the L3C’s policy success? The answer came in the form of a new State agency, the Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Enterprise. The Task Force is the Governor’s multi-sectoral think tank, charged with the responsibility of developing actionable and innovative policy recommendations to sustainably address the State’s most vexing social challenges.

SEA-Chicago’s role in the Task Force cannot be overstated.  Brian Rowland, the CEO of A Safe Haven, LLC, and Eric Weinheimer, the President of The Cara Program, both SEA-Chicago Board members, chair the Task Force’s Business Opportunities and Capital Formation Committees, respectively. I am privileged to chair both the chapter’s Board and the Task Force. Many other members of SEA-Chicago who contribute their time and talent to the Task Force’s work deserve a large share of the credit for its early successes.

Those successes are already worth noting and worth replicating elsewhere. An amendment to the state’s L3C law, allowing L3Cs to be organized for scientific or religious purposes, has been unanimously passed by the Senate and will soon be considered by the House. A Benefit LLC bill has been introduced in the Senate. A state-wide survey of mission-driven ventures has been launched, the first step in fostering the growth of a social enterprise supply chain. The State’s antiquated co-operative law is being revamped to support worker-owned co-ops in economically disadvantaged areas of the State. With the financial support and technical assistance of the Harvard Kennedy School, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Dunham Fund, a Social Impact Bond initiative is underway. Yet, for the Task Force and for SEA-Chicago, partners in empowerment, the best is yet to come.


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