Letters From CEO Kelly Ramirez & Board Chairs MJ Kaplan and Kathy Bendheim

Letter From CEO Kelly Ramirez

I am filled with gratitude as I reflect on my time at Social Enterprise Greenhouse. I moved to Rhode Island 13 years ago and was immediately inspired by the many social impact leaders I met. These changemakers inspired me to work with an early team of collaborators to advance the work of our predecessor organization SVPRI. We set the bold goal of building a dynamic community of social entrepreneurs and an ecosystem to support them. That vision became a reality thanks to the passion and generosity of the many business and community leaders who volunteered to share their knowledge, networks and resources. I am so happy that I now call so many of these entrepreneurs and community leaders my friends. They have provided ongoing inspiration, support and partnership as we have continued to grow the impact of the SEG family.    

We always saw the possibility of building a just, resilient and impactful economy that would benefit everyone, even in the early days. However, we never dreamed that just about a decade later, RI would be a national leader in building a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem driven by social impact. Among the milestone we celebrate are:

  • Serving over 1,800 small businesses and entrepreneurs; and engaging the pro-bono support of 450+ unique volunteers, of which 200+ are currently active.
  • Building a comprehensive menu of programs and services, many offered in both English and Spanish.  
  • Building the SEG Hub, a robust community and co-working space.  
  • Growing the percentage of BIPOC-owned ventures in our programs from 19 percent in 2016 to 45 percent last year.
  • Receiving EDA funding to take our impact to communities in RI that can most benefit our work, and SBA funding ($1 Million) to support RIBEN, an amazing collaborative of leading business support organizations that serve historically excluded entrepreneurs and businesses across the state.  
  • Hosting Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and the entire RI delegation for a pitch event!  
  • Partnering with many amazing organizations including Brown University, Commerce RI, the RI Dept. of Labor and Training, the Rhode Island Foundation, the Greater Providence Chamber, the SBA, Innovate Newport, Citizens, United Way of Rhode Island and Wheaton College, to name a few.  

All I see is even more opportunity for positive change as we emerge from the pandemic and consider the future. It is clear that the SEG community is stronger than ever and is poised for even greater impact. I am thrilled to let you all know that I am planning to transition and welcome a new leader to SEG later in 2022. I know that now is the right time, for the organization and for me personally.  

SEG has a strong and diverse team of 20+ changemakers who are passionate about and committed to the work we do every day. We have a robust pipeline of talented entrepreneurs. We have an engaged board that drives ever-increased excellence and a robust network of expert volunteers. This is our strength. It is this strength and the commitment of the entire ecosystem that will take the organization to the next phase of impact.  

As for me, I am all in for my remaining time at SEG. Those who know me, know that I am a startup person and love building things. I am so proud of what we have built at SEG. I am now excited to take  my continued passion for social entrepreneurship and explore new opportunities to drive positive change, particularly in the private sector and with more of a global reach. I intend to work with the SEG team and board to ensure a successful transition. And in the longer term, I will remain a committed member of the RI community and support the great work that is being done by so many. So this is not a goodbye, but rather a “I can’t wait to continue to work together.”    

I cannot thank you all enough for what has been the most rewarding professional experience of my life. It has been an inspirational ride and I am so glad I got to take it with all of you!

With gratitude,

Letter from Board Chairs MJ Kaplan and Kathy Bendheim

On behalf of the entire Social Enterprise Greenhouse Board, we deeply thank Kelly for her dedication and outsized passion for Social Enterprise Greenhouse – our mission, our entrepreneurs and volunteers and our talented staff. We look forward to continuing to work together through this leadership transition and we’ll be the first to applaud her next move.

Kelly’s leadership provided the foundation and vision for SEG to thrive for the past 13 years. She helped establish the foundation of an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rhode Island and beyond. Thanks to Kelly and SEG, stakeholders across the community see the clear value of business as a force for social impact. We’ve built upon our longstanding Impact Accelerator to meet entrepreneurs where they are from idea to scale in both English and Spanish. We’ve increased capital access through our Loan Fund and the launch of our Microgrant Fund. Partnership and collaboration are central to our work such as the RI Business Empowerment Network (RIBEN) and Non-Profit Innovation Lab created with United Way. From her start, Kelly has fully embodied and pushed forward our mission to create a more just, equitable, and resilient economy.

We are beginning the search for a new leader for Social Enterprise Greenhouse to build on this strong foundation. We believe that the next decade will radically improve the role of business to address complex social and environmental issues and we seek a bold, agile and results-oriented person to position SEG to add enormous value to further this potential. Our next Chief Executive Officer will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for SEG’s growth, staff, programs and partnerships in pursuit of its mission. This dynamic leader will accelerate impact by providing inclusive support and networks for entrepreneurs and businesses committed to positive societal and economic change. The ideal candidate will have the social impact expertise, leadership, and management skills to take SEG to the next level. They will expand our reach with a focus on social entrepreneurs who have been historically excluded. This is an excellent opportunity for a strategic, process-minded leader with experience leading a collaborative and diverse team to build and expand the social impact ecosystem both in Rhode Island and beyond.

Our board established a search committee to select our next Chief Executive by the end of 2022. Until then, Kelly, the talented staff of changemakers and committed board at SEG will continue to support entrepreneurs and evolve our programming to meet the rapidly changing needs of ventures that are leading the social impact ecosystem.

If you or someone you know is interested in this exciting opportunity please share your interest here. For more information, please email: SEGCEOSearch@segreenhouse.org and we will keep you updated about the search process.


MJ & Kathy

April 28, 2022