Seattle-based executive director of FSG’s Impact Hiring Initiative works to expand opportunities for young people with employment barriers.
DIRECTOR, IMPACT HIRING INITIATIVE AT FSG
What do you do? I lead the Impact Hiring Initiative at the social change consulting firm FSG, where I work with companies that want to expand opportunities for people and populations with employment barriers. My work stems from the idea that talent is equally distributed in our country but opportunity isn’t.
Right now, I’m working with a group of human resources leaders from diverse companies. Together, we are testing human resource innovations designed to help young people who face obstacles and are looking for meaningful employment. To that end, I will be facilitating a panel about how employers can engage Opportunity Youth through volunteerism and other practices at the Points of Light Conference (in Seattle) June 19–21.
Describe the career path you’ve taken so far. I’ve spent my adult life working to create opportunity and belonging in our country. I began this work from a place of youthful idealism — I started as an AmeriCorps member — and I’m still called to this work because I believe that as hard as it might be at times, the only thing we are really called to do is to take care of each other.
Over the course of my career in the public, nonprofit and private sectors I became convinced that the private sector has an instrumental role to play in creating lasting social change. Only business has the speed, scale and urgency to address the world’s greatest problems — and there is often incredible business value in doing so.
My current role is a perfect opportunity to leverage my cross-sector experiences to demonstrate that business can be profitable while simultaneously improving society.
What’s a typical day like? My day typically includes lots of laughter with colleagues, a little problem-solving and a good dose of creativity. I believe that in order to solve seemingly intractable problems, we need to involve unlikely bedfellows, so I spend a lot of time educating and engaging people by inviting them to join us in the work.
What’s the best part of the job? I love connecting people who give each other the inspiration, courage and tools to provide opportunities to others while making their businesses more competitive.
My favorite moments are when we bring young people in as advisers and problem solvers to provide insight to employers. It is one of my core values to involve the people for whom we are designing programs, but this step is often overlooked. Through this process I see employers gain deeper empathy and understanding, while the young people light up and gain confidence.
What surprises people about your work? Most people, including business leaders, are surprised by the deep well of youth talent that is often overlooked. One in seven young people between 16 and 24 in the U.S. is not working and is not in school. Creating opportunities for hiring, retention and advancement helps young people succeed in life and creates a competitive advantage for companies. The companies we work with, like MOD Pizza, Nordstrom and T-Mobile, are excited and willing to collaborate and to share best practices to help young people reach their full potential.