CEO Column

Reflecting on 39 years

On this very day 39 years ago, a fellow student and I borrowed a car from a Princeton classmate and drove to Trenton to officially incorporate Isles, a new kind of nonprofit development organization.  Motivated by my family experience with poverty in Akron, Ohio and my Anthropology thesis, I grappled with a presumptuous notion – …

A Message from the CEO

Dear Friend, First, we hope that this message finds you healthy and safe. These are unusual times– to say the least! We take pride in Isles’ culture. It pushes us to ask hard questions about our mission, and to continually learn. But now we must react to COVID-19, an unprecedented threat to the health and …

January 2020 Update

To keep Isles’ friends in the loop regarding my transition, here is an update.  A national search and consulting firm, Raffa-Marcum from Washington D.C. is supporting Isles’ CEO Search Committee.  Response has been excellent.  Our goal is to have a final decision by late spring. At that point, I will stay on in a strategy, …

On the Passing of Paul Volcker

Yesterday, a generation’s torch was extinguished. Paul Volcker is being remembered as courageous in the face of awesome pressures. He was a smart, badass, fair-minded financier. Those attributes ring true, but I remember him as a powerful friend who cared a lot about fairness and who felt an unusual, sober connection to those who lacked …

2019 Year End Appeal

Dear Friend, Years before the term “sustainable development” was coined, we created Isles to foster it where it was needed most.  How?  By providing tools, ideas and organizing help to community-based groups (or “islands”) that wanted to develop their economy and restore their environment.    We started by helping neighborhoods build affordable homes, grow organic …

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Friend,   Last Saturday, Isles’ Legacy Celebration brought over 300 people to our new Social Profit Center for a big party.  Folks from all walks of my life turned out.  That diverse room reminded all of us of what it takes to impact the world – not just a village, but multiple villages across old …

September 2019 Update

For 5 years, I’ve been half-time at Isles, and half-time faculty, teaching Social Entrepreneurship, and sharing Isles’ lessons with Princeton students – next generation leaders. In my absence, COO John Hart provided essential leadership. We maintained audacious goals, and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.   So after 38 years, I’ve decided to step down …

March Update

Dear Friends, More and more, we talk – and worry – about social inequality, climate change, authoritarian rule – and can we make meaningful change? Yes, in many ways, the bad ‘system is rigged.’ But can we rig a good system, too?  Yes, but it requires more than talk and worry – it requires action. …

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays! Long ago, someone said, “Do something with your life that’s beautiful and will last.” That sentiment stuck with me, and I suspect you can relate to it too. Is there anything more beautiful and lasting than helping others? Especially when “helping” means empowering families and communities – even tough ones – to be …

Happy Thanksgiving

  Dear Friend, The Dalai Lama once said, “The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” That is both metaphor and real for us at Isles. Through community and school gardens, over 1,000 culturally diverse families and students grow tens of thousands of pounds of fresh food – and deep …