How did you get where you are today?
Well, my path was a very messy path, ok? I majored in Latin and Greek in college because I didn’t know what else to do but I always loved theater, so I went to UNC Chapel Hill, got a masters in dramatic arts, so I’m a Carolina playmaker. I finished my masters, I didn’t write my thesis, but I did everything else. And so, then I went to New York because my father grew up in Connecticut and commuted to New York for work every day. I got a job at ABC, quit it after a week and got another job at a production company, so I worked in production. I worked in commercials, split off and worked with another company, you know. Then I moved to Florida. Everything I worked in was film and the world of tape was coming. This was a long time ago and no film people wanted to work with tape…ugh disgusting. But everyone once in a while you had to, because if you were doing a tv commercial you had to be in tape and not film sometimes. We got into that and did a couple. The tape company that I worked for, Teletron, hired me to go down and be the liaison for all the film people for the film studios in Florida. This is where I met my husband, who was hired as the new general manager. We wandered around for a while, went back to New York city and we both got a job there. I worked in film as a freelance. Then I got hired by GM as a freelance to do their total quality management seminars which were huge, 300, 400 people. They asked me to stay for their Total quality rollout as a consultant, so I stayed. Then I decided to take 4 major office unites, trade economic, corporate responsibility, US industrial relations and environment, energy and safety. They wanted to put it together to make the public policy center. They hired me at an old age to do that. I helped them create the HIV/AIDS Policy in 2000/2001 when it was horrible. GM had plants all over the world that were really being hit by aids. We made ad campaigns to spread awareness. I got sponsored to spread information about human trafficking around the world. When I retired they offered me a grant, which was one offered to people to were retired to return to work. I was asked to Shepperd this grant, and one of the grantees was TechTown. They offered office space and a computer, so I went there for a year to do that grant, and when it ran out, they wanted me to stay. It’s always been go with the flow and I didn’t PLAN it, but it happened, and it went well.
What is a hurdle you had to overcome?
I was an outside consultant and had a great job. I had a job that both management people and union people would want. So “Why does SHE have it”, because I was a consultant. My biggest challenge was to win them over and to get them to trust me. It took a long time. Sometimes I would have to back off when I was right in a situation, and it finally culminated when I was sitting in my office when the international rep came and stood in the doorway and blocked me and I couldn’t get out of my office and just screamed and threatened. I tried sitting there acting sophisticated and not to cry... and there’s no fighting back from that. One of my partners saw what was going on and told something to a union worker, and the next day he was back on the floor. That’s when I knew that you have to work on relationships and especially the ones that don’t come naturally. Also during the time, it was very hard for women in that business. There were few to no men, and the misogyny was very rampant at that time. I had to learn how to say no so that it would not only hurt me, but my career as well. That was very tough. At least when you get older, there isn’t that much hitting on you.
What does Social entrepreneurship mean to you?
Currently, I think for in order for there to be quality and justice, there has to be quality and justice for everybody. Access is the key word. If you don’t know about it, you can’t access is. Whatever it is, access is the key. That’s why I believe that affirmative action is access because the door is open. I think social entrepreneurship nurturing the access. It can be opening a daycare in a neighborhood to free up moms, so they can hold their head above the water. It also helps local economy. Standing on your own two feet and opening a bodega may not seem like it, but it is. It is bringing food and jobs to a place where it wasn’t there before. Now there are enterprises who are all about the goal of access and opportunities. I see entrepreneurship as all social entrepreneurship. We had a huge plant in Kenya, which had a bad HIV problem. We had truck stops to get there which had prostitutes who would spread HIV therefore it would be very bad. All the businesses got together and had to solve the problem. They decided to train these young women for careers in different industries so that they could support themselves instead of selling themselves. An economy that was based off of small businesses thrives off of this social entrepreneurship. In neighborhoods you could see people who created jobs, resources and opportunities for other people which was an avenue for economic opportunity and access and I’m all for it and that’s why I love TechTown
One of the wisest and nicest people at TechTown