During these last months our team has been busy dreaming, challenging, and fortifying our values, our strategies, and our definition of impact. Our first pilot program hit its half-point mark, and we are cultivating a sense of energy and purpose with our regional partners and our inaugural cohort of power-builders.
As we strive to live out our unwavering belief that power is a human right, we continually explore and analyze sources of power. Organized people, for example, become a source of power when they disrupt systems and build new ones to better address their needs. Organized money is another source—one that can resource community-driven change. By building economic prosperity for all—as opposed to just a few—we weave power into the fabric of every community, no matter which side of Delmar they fall.
To realize a future where shared economic prosperity accelerates policy and systems change, our bold and unapologetic plans must be driven by people—amazing, energizing change agents. At WEPOWER we are building a dynamic team to courageously advance our power-filled vision. To this end, I am elated to welcome our newest team member Bijal Desai-Ramirez to the role of VP of Entrepreneurship & Investments. In her position, Bijal will use entrepreneurship as a catalyst to advance community-driven power.
Bijal brings a unique set of assets to the team. She joined WEPOWER in June after co-founding Filament, a startup dedicated to helping people think together better. During her 2.5-year tenure as COO, she built out a team and infrastructure that allowed the company to achieve an average quarterly growth rate of 34%.
Prior to her time at Filament, Bijal held key roles with organizations old and new, large and small, and across sectors for 15+ years. She served as Executive Director of Education Innovation and founded the ED Collabitat—a hub for entrepreneurship, collaboration, and professional development—at the University of Missouri–St. Louis; as Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis overseeing strategic planning and capacity building through a period of explosive growth; as a consultant for nonprofits, startups, and for large corporations such as Pepsico; and as a young leader working with Pfizer both in the field and at their global headquarters.
Building upon these experiences, her work takes on a cross-sector approach and introduces new ideas to build capacity and innovation within organizations. In addition, her work is informed by personal experiences as a woman, a personal of color, a parent, and the daughter of immigrant entrepreneurs.
What drives her work most and what aligns her experience with the mission and vision of WEPOWER is that Bijal infinitely cares about people. She demonstrates this in the way she knows best: by building stuff (foundations, systems, processes, relationships) to make impact for the betterment of society, communities, workplaces, and life—particularly for women, children, people of color, and other communities who are systematically disenfranchised.
Our team recently sat down with Bijal to hear a bit about her perspective on her role supporting community-based entrepreneurs. And today she is sharing that story with our broader community!
I know Bijal’s entrepreneurial experience and her commitment to equitable innovation will empower us to live out our values more fully. Throughout 2018, she will design a strategy that accelerates business growth and economic prosperity in communities that have been left out of the startup ecosystem for far too long but who have creative ideas and vast potential. In collaboration with the broader WEPOWER community, her work towards economic prosperity will tie into and grow our policy and systems change efforts.
Please join me in welcoming Bijal to our team. Together, with our WEPOWER community and partners, transformation of our city, region and country is possible!