Working to Provide Dignity, Equality, Opportunity
Ask Anne Marie Burgoyne why she made the switch from investment banking to social enterprise and the answer is succinct. “The ability to give other people dignity, equity and opportunity.” That opportunity was made possible, in part, by a year-and-a-half-long REDF Farber Fellowship. The Farber Fellowship, which placed her in the role of Director at Community Gatepath, a non-profit that provides services to people with disabilities in San Mateo County, “enabled me to be intimately involved in a leadership position,” Burgoyne says.
At Community Gatepath, Burgoyne’s first project was to build a model to deploy capital that helped more people to receive more services while enabling the organization to break even. Success in this endeavor led to Burgoyne stepping up to direct all the social enterprise businesses there, including a pick’n pack, a janitorial service, and a landscaping business.
Burgoyne counts among her biggest achievements as a Farber Fellow, “building out the model that allowed Community Gatepath to serve more kids and serve them better. Empirically it created a lot of impact – it mattered.” Equally important for Burgoyne was the success of “simply helping people do things that gave them dignity. We did a lot of packaging for Numi tea, including a treasure box with 25 pieces of five different kinds of tea.,” Burgoyne says. “We created a colored cardboard template that enabled people to match the right tea with the right box. By finding a linear way to help people do more kinds of work, people felt like they really accomplished something.”
Today, Burgoyne leads the innovation initiative at the Emerson Collective, an organization that uses grant making, investing, and advocacy to drive social change. Looking back at her time as a REDF Farber Fellow, Burgoyne offers several pieces of advice. The first, she says, is “to really plan your time.” The second is to get off the plan. “Let the cultural dynamics” of the organization wash over you, Burgoyne advises. “Simply observe and experience. Everyday the therapists at community Gatepath ate lunch under a tree and so did I. Even though I had tons of things I could have been doing, that’s what I spent my time doing. In the end it was the most productive thing I could have done. “