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How does BALLE put these concepts into practice? RF: The 2018 cohort of BALLE Fellows is made up of leaders from rural communities. Lifting up rural leaders is extremely important to us simply because Americans don’t often think about the entrepreneurial innovation that happens in rural areas. We typically look to the coasts or to major municipalities, but we don’t think of rural communities

RF: The best advice I’ve ever gotten is to be humble. Listen more than you talk. Take the time to understand what people are feeling and how things impact them, and commit to be in service to people. Then, everything else falls in place. Particularly if you are a business leader or an entrepreneur, your task is to hire and call together people who are better and smarter than you. If you are consistently the smartest person in the room, you probably won’t have a successful

the stands and put forth the investments that are required for the change we need today. It might sound trite, but I’m inspired by people who are strong and talented — and the BALLE leadership network is full of them. I wake up motivated every day to be in service to them. We are 50 years out from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, and it’s game-changing for me to reflect on the level of commitment that a person has to have in order to

“When, for example, people of color become the majority in the US, what does it look like when Latinxs, African-Americans, and other minority groups do not have the type of household income and wealth that will be able to sustain the US economy?” as hubs of creation. Even without that recognition, entrepreneurial leaders are doing great things in these communities — and fantastic opportunities can come from investing in their efforts. For example, one of our Fellows organized a sustainable farming group in DeWitt, Arkansas. Effectively, the model creates a value chain around sustainable farming and energy-efficient biofuels in a 3,000-person town. They’ve been able to create jobs, expand upon farming opportunities, and bring on a generation of people who can engage in this industry. This kind of activity is happening in rural areas across the country, but it remains a blind spot for investors. What is the best leadership advice you give or have received?


Q2 / SPRING 2019


organization — whether that’s a for-profit business, a social change enterprise, or a nonprofit. To succeed, you need to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are, and you need to center respect for those people and help them be the best they can be.

drive change. It makes me want to double down, while also recognizing how hard it will be. People sacrifice every single day to make our communities and our world better, and we have to continue doing this work.

What gives you hope? RF: Communities across this country and around the world are so hard-hit by economic injustices, yet people continue to push forward. I can’t help but be optimistic because I see folks like Jessica Norwood persevere and create opportunity where there might not have been before. I am inspired by the fact that we have foundation and corporate leaders who are able to take


Mary Mazzoni is an environmental journalist and editor based in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in print and online, including in TriplePundit, AlterNet, Yahoo Travel, and multiple Philadelphia publications including the Philadelphia Daily News. Rachel Zurer is Conscious Company’s former editorin-chief. Before joining the Conscious Company Media team, she worked at Backpacker and Wired magazines.

Profile for Conscious Company

Conscious Company Magazine | Spring 2019  

The Q2/Spring 2019 issue of Conscious Company is all about the racial wealth gap, diversity as a competitive differentiator, game-changing f...

Conscious Company Magazine | Spring 2019  

The Q2/Spring 2019 issue of Conscious Company is all about the racial wealth gap, diversity as a competitive differentiator, game-changing f...