What Susan Was Doing in September

ON September 15, 2021

The latest science says we are living through an “endemic” not a pandemic, anymore (take a listen to Science Friday’s 9/17 podcast). Rather than finding this news thoroughly depressing, I’m doing my best to embrace it. I’ve never thought there would be some kind of magic getting “back” to normal: only “Build Forward Better” as we said in our June, 2021 impact investing conference. So, let’s share what we’ve learned over the last 18 months. I’ve learned that people really do want to take action and explore new ways of addressing society’s ills such as climate change and racial injustice. What did you learn? I’d love to hear. Tweet me @susan_hammel or email or leave a comment below.

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What I'm doing now

As we emerge cautiously from our pandemic caves, it’s wonderful to be out with humans again, at least a little bit. Then again Zoom is part of our workplace culture now and I’m grateful for the technology, as is our Cogent principal, Terri Barreiro, who I enjoy seeing weekly at Impact Hub MSP, which she co-founded with Katie Kalkman. Lately, I have had the good fortune to be spending time with talented Black entrepreneurs and they give me a lot of hope for our communities: people like Ian Alexander, Anisha Murphy, and Karine Blanc. You’ll note that many of the people leading this work are women and in honor of Women’s History Month, I also want to give a shout to someone I’ve admired for years: the late great Madeline Albright, the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. 

It’s got me thinking about the suspicion many in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors have regarding the for-profit sector. Skepticism and pointed questions are good but it is possible that the for-profit sector will develop sustainable, scalable solutions to our pressing challenges: racial justice, gender equality, climate change, economic opportunity for all, to name a few. My advice--look beyond someone’s tax status and focus on the work they’re doing. If you’re not sure of a for-profit entrepreneur’s motives, see if they are a Public Benefit Corporation, like Cogent and/or B-Lab certified like one of my favorites: Binary Bridge founded by Lori Most, bringing mobile health technology to places around the world.