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MLK Breakfast Driven By Social Entrepreneurship

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Every year, the MLK Breakfast put on by the Urban Connection and Cornish & Associates delivers thought-provoking information from Central Pa. movers and shakers. The 2014 event builds on that tradition.

This year’s focus will be “Social Entrepreneurship: For Profit –For Good.” A panel discussion will include Robyn S. Joppy, vice president of corporate compliance at Keystone Human Services; Clay Lambert, business development officer with Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency; and Ken Wesler, president and CEO of the Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center.

“One could look at social entrepreneurship as public entrepreneurship and corporate entrepreneurship,”

The term “social entrepreneur” was first used in the literature on social change during the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s, when the United States was in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. However, the concept of pursuing innovative solutions to social problems through for-profits, non-profits and government entities has caught on worldwide.

Joppy works for one of the area’s quintessential businesses with a social mission. “One could look at social entrepreneurship as public entrepreneurship and corporate entrepreneurship,” said Joppy, explaining that her personal philosophy is aligned with that of her employer. The bottom line is creating social equity. Keystone Human Services works to create an environment where all people, regardless of ability, can grow, make choices and valued and contributing members of the community.

Hard at work in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Russia and Moldova, Keystone provides community-based services for children, young people, adults and families in the areas of intellectual disabilities, autism, mental health, early intervention and children and family services.

“What I try to do in my everyday life is find different pathways for people who might not have access; people who are falling through the gaps.”

Lambert has managed to build a career on the foundation of opening opportunities for others to pursue the “American Dream” of home ownership. He believes this year’s theme is a perfect match for the Martin
Luther King holiday weekend. “In a lot of [King’s] speeches he talked about the overall inequality
in everyday society – everything from education disparities to housing disparities to employment disparities – between not only persons of color and whites but those who are living and working
but cannot find a way to get above the poverty line,” states Lambert. “What I try to do in my everyday life is find different pathways for people who might not have access; people who are falling through
the gaps,” he explained.

Since its creation in 1972, PHFA has generated $11.4 billion in funding for more than 154,200 single-family home mortgage loans, helped fund the construction of 122,590 rental units and saved the
homes of more than 46,900 families from foreclosure.

For Wesler, the success of the Strand is entwined with the success of the communities served by the performance center. Of course, the Strand’s main mission is to offer performing arts to the community, but equally important is to be accessible and offer a gathering place to the community.

“The idea is to serve as many of the many different audiences that we have in our community as possible,”

His formula works because the Strand is involved in the fabric ofthe community through its education and outreach efforts.

With the talent and insight that will be shared by this year’s panel, you won’t want to miss the 2014 MLK Breakfast, which will be coupled with the Access and Opportunity Career at the Hilton Harrisburg, Downtown. Doors open for the MLK Breakfast at 7:15 a.m. The program is scheduled 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. For more information, call (717)-343-1509

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