Years from now, when we look back at how and why Upswell surged into existence, we’ll be able to point to people like Regeanie Corona as the reason. Regeanie, founder and CEO of California-based nonprofit Advancing the Seed, was both one of the first changemakers to sign up for Upswell and a high-energy collaborator at the first Upswell Lab in Los Angeles. Her ideas – and her belief that changemakers should be “radical, innovative, and disruptive” – are helping shape Upswell in inspiring ways. You’ll get a chance to meet her in November (or sooner), but in the meantime…
Q: Alright! In a few sentences, tell us about you!
RC: I am a social entrepreneur, business strategist, and an advocate for economic equity. I have a 25-year background in information technology. I left an IT cyber security management career to “transform” the social impact space. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that really means, but so far it has meant learning as much as possible about the nonprofit and social enterprise space and utilizing as many of my skills as possible to help bring true systemic change. I am the Founder and CEO of the social enterprise nonprofit Advancing The Seed, where our mission is to develop strong leaders for business and community engagement so that they can create financial stability for themselves, their families and their communities.
I’m also the President and CEO of a social impact management consulting firm where we work with city government and cross-sector community leaders to develop 3-5-year strategic plans and/or initiatives around community health, wellness, and equity. These projects range in scope and cover various components of the social determinants of health to improve the overall well-being of those who live, work, and play in a community, as well as those who visit. I am continually inspired to make the world a better place for my children, and other children and families. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience a joyful, healthy, thriving life that isn’t dependent on the zip code that you come from or the amount of wealth that your family has.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about the physical space you work in?
RC: Our office has five internal “windows” connected to individual office/conference area spaces. These internal windows are all visible from the reception area. They each contain words etched on them that communicate our core values and the things that we stand for in our work and the impact that we seek to have. Words such as: develop, opportunity, empower, community, believe, create, altruism, lead, equip, change, encourage, inspire, grow. These words impact everyone who visits us, and they continue to impact our staff daily. They remind us why we do what we do, especially when it seems tough or we are challenged in some way.
Q: What’s the last issue you personally advocated for – and why?
RC: I continue to advocate strongly for greater public and private support to develop collective impact programs to promote asset and wealth building among low-income and disadvantaged youth. While we’ve seen improvement and collaborative efforts forming to address the various issues at hand, in the United States, we still have approximately 4.9 million disconnected youth who are not working or in school. Training, coaching and mentoring – and access to viable resources for career pathways, financial literacy, digital literacy (and Internet provision), jobs with upward mobility, affordable housing, affordable healthcare, and advanced education – are all critical components to the success and economic mobility of a young adult. We must continue to disrupt the status quo and radically innovate in this area to see significant change, and we must do better at working together to make it happen.
Q: What excites you most about Upswell?
RC: I believe that to bring true systemic change, you must be willing to be a changemaker who is radical, innovative, and disruptive enough to drive change in new and different ways. Like entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks to find a “blue ocean”, social entrepreneurs, leaders, and change agents must be willing to go against the status quo and try what is different, even if it means accepting risk of failure, to innovate for something new. I see Upswell as the place to have these conversations, forge these audacious relationships, and dare to create that which is different in the effort to push past current barriers. Upswell is a place to bring together various sectors within society to share, create, and activate the social good that we each have within us, and to elevate it beyond typical siloed efforts into multiple combined efforts for the greater good of the world and humankind. I can’t wait!