Less than three months ago, Grace Manning stepped into her current role as Community Manager for the Cohen Technology Center. Yet she already has a clear vision for how the CTC can evolve beyond its original function as a co-working space.
“There really is so much more potential than that,” says Grace. “Hopeworks is such a supportive organization for the young professionals that come and go through the system. But once they graduate from the program, there isn’t any formal programming to continue their evolution as a young professional.” Her idea: put a “more formal structure in place” that offers support with professional development, networking, and hunting for—and landing—the right next job to continue their upwards career trajectory. “I think the CTC can be the hub for all of these things.”
Grace is the ideal person to do this. She has a history of “building things from the ground up” (something she has done in three previous jobs), and a real gift for “connecting the dots,” seeing what’s needed, gathering the necessary resources, and launching the new initiative. Grace is all about making a real impact. She also has great respect for inclusive, data-driven practices, which is what drew her to Hopeworks initially. Grace says she recognized that Hopeworks had the data to back up its mission, a measure she uses to size up nonprofits. “There are a lot of people doing good work,” says Grace, “but not all can prove they are actually working toward a theory of change and actually making a real impact.”
Prior to Hopeworks, Grace served as the Head of Impact for Saxbys, a social impact company that uses food, beverages, and hospitality to make a positive difference in the community it serves. At Saxbys, Grace oversaw all social and environmental impact-based initiatives, such as multiple workforce development programs, partnership creation, and scholarship management. She was also responsible for creating and implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategies. In that role, Grace took charge of content and communications creation, the implementation of DEI strategies, and all the training necessary to see that they were carried out. She also facilitated Saxbys’ transformation into a certified B Corp and Benefit Corporation.
All in all, Grace brings over eight years of community development experience to the Hopeworks team. Hopeworks’ alumni stand to benefit greatly from all of it, and Grace’s vision for what can be.