Specialized, hands-on technical assistance helps employment social enterprises increase their impact. Regional Partnerships & Technical Assistance Manager Kristen Green shares how her experience working at an employment social enterprise influences her work at REDF.
My favorite days at work are the quarterly LA:RISE (Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise) Academy meetings. We gather all 26 LA:RISE partners – employment social enterprises, personal support providers, and workforce agencies – in one room for a day of learning and collective problem-solving. Working with our partners to ensure they can best serve participants is the highlight of my job.
As the Regional Partnerships & Technical Assistance Manager, I provide technical assistance to new and emerging employment social enterprises through our Southern California Technical Assistance Program. This hands-on support is essential to social enterprises’ success, especially in their early stages, and it is a service that our partners truly value. In my role, I also work with our LA:RISE partners who are providing wrap-around services and transitional employment to individuals overcoming employment barriers across the city and county of Los Angeles.
I began my career working at nonprofits and at a law firm, with a plan to pursue a law or public policy degree. But as I worked with more nonprofit leaders and board members who had business backgrounds, I decided that I needed to speak their language. I enrolled in USC Marshall School of Business’ inaugural social entrepreneurship program, which was perfectly suited to my goal of mixing nonprofit with business. That is also where I first learned about REDF – in an impact investing course I read Impact Investing: Transforming How We Make Money While Making A Difference by Jed Emerson, REDF’s Founding CEO.
After I completed my graduate program, I was excited to enter the social enterprise field as the Operations Administrator for Chrysalis Works, the street cleaning and maintenance enterprise operated by REDF partner Chrysalis. I also managed Chrysalis’ involvement in the LA:RISE program, which allowed me to get to know REDF better and meet the Los Angeles staff.
Soon after, I was recruited to join REDF’s LA office as a Portfolio Associate. I jumped at the opportunity because it would allow me to work with so many diverse social enterprises – and to bring my perspective as a former social enterprise staffer to the portfolio team’s technical assistance work. In the two years since, my role has evolved as we deepen and expand our Southern California network of social enterprises, and as the LA:RISE program continues to grow. This evolution is emblematic of REDF’s approach – we are committed to flexibility, growth, and improvement to ensure we best serve the needs of the field.
My previous experience working at a social enterprise has informed every aspect of my work at REDF. When providing technical assistance, I always think about the social enterprise staff – from director level to the frontline staff who might not be interacting with REDF regularly. I want to ensure that the recommendations we make are achievable, concrete, and align with their current workload.
Watching our partners implement suggestions for improvement is an incredibly rewarding part of my job that reaffirms my respect for social enterprise leaders. They wear so many hats and have to make things happen in circumstances that are very demanding. I am always so inspired by their dedication, and unwavering belief that everyone has something to contribute.
Perspectives on Impact – Meet Our Staff Blog Series highlights our team’s unique backgrounds, expertise, and contributions to REDF’s mission.