Small & Local Business Recovery Reinvention.png


How will Main Streets across the entire country rise to America’s small & local business challenge as each neighborhood, town, city, and region tries to mobilize their post-COVID recovery and reinvention?
Photo Source: Arizona Daily Independent News Network, Fellowship Team



About the Mary S. Peake Fellowship[edit | edit source]

The Peake Fellowship provides a one-year program for recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses to develop next generation leadership skills as they coach small & local businesses to succeed in a Networked AI & Big Data-driven world. It was co-founded by Dean Emeritus John McArthur of the Harvard Business School and other Platform Development Team Founding Partners who were chosen for their pioneering contributions across industry, education, and public service. Through a competitive application process, outstanding recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses are selected from throughout the United States. Each Peake Fellow trains small & local business leaders as part of an intensive 12-month Service Learning experience in partnership with local chambers of commerce.

The Peake Fellowship partners with Higher Ed Centers at Historically Black Colleges & Universities, Hispanic Service Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Regional Colleges & Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges and Research Universities, Community Colleges, and Vocational-Technical Schools. In conjunction with these higher ed institutions, the Peake Fellowship and its Applied Learning Partners will help the 50 U.S. states and 5 U.S. territories jointly mobilize to upskill adult learners in every community through 8,000+ local chambers of commerce and local chamber equivalents. As the world continues its next industrial revolution based on Networked AI & Big Data, the team started with the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce which is co-located with the U.S. National Park for the birthplace of the first American Industrial Revolution.

For more than a decade, Venly has served as the Peake Fellowship Development Team leading the Peake Pilot Program to support each Fellow and other Community Navigators. The name Venly comes from the Venn diagram at the intersection of community and technology in a user friendly context (Ven + ly = Venly). Venly’s social enterprise mission to help local businesses grow, create jobs, and strengthen each community served, continues to support the Peake Fellowship’s Applied Learning & Teaching approach powered by Networked AI & Big Data.

The Peake Fellowship Development Team expands the impact of MIT & Harvard’s Open edX platform. To date, over 40 million learners and 100 higher ed institutions have benefited from the free, open source innovations of edX. To accelerate the reinvention and recovery of small & local businesses, the Peake Fellowship Development Team partnered with the leadership of the Historically Black Colleges & Universities Research and Innovation Network (HBCU RAIN), and the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU), Caltech, Carnegie Mellon, University of Chicago, and University of California San Diego. This joint mobilization will improve the access, quality, and cost of Connected Online Education & Operations as part of a strength-based innovation process for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth locally and globally (glocally).

From this core effort comes a seed for change.

Peake Fellowship Institute[edit | edit source]

The Peake Fellowship Institute comprises methodologies for training, tools, certifications, and governance for Applied Learning & Teaching. The Institute’s Applied Learning & Teaching programs expand the impact of courses from industry leaders, business schools, vocational schools, community colleges, and universities. The Peake Fellowship Institute’s effectiveness is measured by how much it strengthens the network of small & local businesses, their chambers of commerce and other industry or professional associations, community institutions, individual contributors, and the overall Peake Fellowship Support Team. That means the definition of success is not course completion alone or even competence in a particular skill—it is measurable business value created by the actions of Peake Fellowship Institute Learners.


National Upskilling of Small & Local Businesses: Platform Development Team Executive Director – Chiderah Okoye (left) & Platform Development Team General Manager – Tom Fellows (right) leading a national business forum with St. Louis Chamber CEO/incoming Chair of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (middle left) and the Admiral who leads U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) supply chain partnerships with the private sector (middle right).
Photo Source: Peake Fellowship Team

Executive Summary[edit | edit source]

Peake Fellowship Program Powered By Networked AI & Big Data[edit | edit source]

The Peake Fellowship’s mission is to provide a one-year program for recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses to develop next generation leadership skills as they coach small & local businesses to succeed in a Networked AI & Big Data-driven world. To accomplish this mission, the Fellows Service relies on people, processes, and a platform to meet the needs of each community for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth.

The Peake Fellowship Program and Fellowship Network platform support small & local businesses to recover and reinvent themselves through learning to jointly innovate new products & services while offering online & in-person commerce. The Peake Fellowship calls this combination Community Commerce as opposed to the commodity commerce already offered efficiently and effectively by global ecommerce providers.

For Fellows, the one-year paid experience is designed to build on the Fellow’s sense of mission, years of effective social media use, and outstanding academic or military service record. Through mentoring and systemic Applied Learning & Teaching support, Fellows complete their year with a portfolio of proof points for helping local businesses grow, providing a transformative springboard into future leadership roles.

For chamber executives, the partnership model is designed to provide relevant and valuable services for current and prospective chamber members. With no out-of-pocket cost to the chamber, the partnership provides multiple benefits including the opportunity to award a prestigious fellowship to a top-flight recent graduate, returning veteran, or military spouse.

The partnership also rallies chamber engagement by continually benchmarking the Community Commerce progress of its member businesses compared to the membership of other chambers locally and across the country.

For small & local business owners, an individualized small & local business growth plan is designed to provide cost-effective training resources to maximize the value from social media, Community Commerce, and other enterprise systems and services.

To manage transitions, a transition model is based on every business owner knowing up front that Fellows will move on to new career opportunities after completing their Peake Fellowship with the Peake Fellowship Team’s support. Through a careful methodology, the Peake Fellowship maintains business leader satisfaction when a new Fellow is introduced to that business.

To stay current, the Peake Fellowship team designed its open source Networked AI & Big Data Platform to dynamically update each training module and Fellow work step as new best practices progress on four business tracks: Outreach & Engagement, Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity.

To scale, the Peake Fellowship’s service life cycle relies on systemic support from the Peake Fellowship Network platform, a small staff in the Peake Fellowship Operations Center, and Peake Fellowship Coaches in the field. Coaches serve as senior liaisons for the chambers and mentors to the Fellows.

To start, local chambers arrange no cost, 45-minute Best Practice Sessions by a Fellow for businesses in their communities. In each session, Fellows use publicly available data to assess each business’s social media capabilities compared to 100 best practices. The Fellow’s Networked AI & Big Data-based tools customize the assessment for over 1,000 market categories. Sessions end with concrete next steps that a business can execute without any further involvement of the Fellow. Some businesses request more help. In that case, the Fellow offers a $6 per day Fellows Service to coach the business through a one hour, monthly, web-based meeting and ad hoc phone support.

To enroll, each business pays a $180 one-time setup fee that creates a Networked AI & Big Data-based dashboard for use along with the $6 per day continued Fellow support.

To ensure value, the Fellows Service is arranged so that each business chooses when they have accomplished what they needed from the Applied Learning Partnership. On average, businesses “graduate” after ten months of improving their Outreach & Engagement. Once the Fellows introduce the Institute’s other three business tracks–Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity–the typical business continues to advance through the service and, on average, complete their training after five years.

To summarize the Peake Fellowship Program levels the playing field for small & local businesses by connecting them with the expertise and open source Networked AI & Big Data platform to compete with ecommerce giants. The result is Sustainable & Inclusive Growth* led by the local chambers committed to each community.

Fellowship & Micknucks

From left to right: Peake Pilot Program Fellowship Coach & military spouse Sarah Aimad Kassim, local grocer & 6+ year Fellows Service client Justin Cournoyer, and Peake Pilot Program Fellow Caroline Sun developing strategies in the back office of Micknuck’s Fresh Marketplace prior to COVID-19.
Photo Source: Fellowship Team

”Each of our Fellows has definitely made a big difference, and we continue to get way more traction on social media. A 5-7% increase in sales is a big jump in this industry. And beyond sales,we’ve been gaining followers.”

— Justin Cournoyer, 6+ Year Applied Learning Partner & Fellows Service Client, Vice President of Micknuck’s Fresh Marketplace

Introduction: Rising to America’s Small and Local Business Challenge[edit | edit source]

Introduction[edit | edit source]

How Can the U.S. Begin Rising to America’s Small & Local Business Challenge?[edit | edit source]

Any mass scale effort to ensure the vitality of small & local businesses across America’s neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions will require a grassroots parallel to the:

  • Shared vision of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Scope and speed of Amazon’s effect on commerce.

This document describes a mass scale, Sustainable & Inclusive Growth-driven approach based on the nationwide Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform. The Peake Fellowship’s mission is to provide a one-year program for recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses to develop next generation leadership skills as they coach small & local businesses to succeed in a Networked AI & Big Data-driven world. The Peake Fellowship Network platform’s proven and operational system revolutionizes adult upskilling and fundamentally improves America’s economic future one neighborhood, town, city, and region at a time.

The Peake Fellowship’s intergenerational high touch and high tech approach helps each small & local business improve:

  1. Access, Outreach & Engagement with new local and global customers/markets.
  2. Ecommerce Innovation to convert that engagement into more sales beyond in-person transactions.
  3. Efficient, Secure Value Chains with both suppliers and customers for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth.
Networked Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Big Data is the system-wide,community-led capability to achieve goals based on automated learning from mass aggregation and analysis of information.

*Sustainable & Inclusive Growth is the advancement of equal economic opportunity for all populations and resources across a community through the regenerative expansion of income & wealth driven by Safety, Wellness, & Healthy Environment; Qualifications & Work; Goods & Services.

Why Focus on Small & Local Businesses?[edit | edit source]

Small & local businesses create the lifeline of communities and the majority of jobs in the United States, but they operate without the staff and budget safety nets of bigger businesses. In the societal disruption driven by Post-COVID, economic inequality, and automation, the Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network platform provides tools to bridge how small & local businesses can become leaders in the next industrial revolution based on networked intelligence. Without that bridge, small & local businesses become the casualties of both a pandemic and technology change.

To provide maximum impact and minimum cost, the Peake Fellowship combines specific resources that are often under-engaged:

  • A corps of recent graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses in a one-year Peake Fellowship that intensively trains them to serve through a next generation apprenticeship.
  • The 8,000+ local chambers of commerce already in place to connect each community across the U.S.
  • A free collaboration network and marketplace for training that upskills 30 million small & local businesses through their chambers and associations.

The Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network platform levels the playing field for small & local businesses by connecting them to expertise and technology support that allows them to coexist with the ecommerce giants. Specifically, the Peake Fellowship Network platform helps small & local businesses band together to innovate new products and services that differentiate from the commodity commerce that Big Tech giants deliver so effectively.

The Peake Fellowship refers to that joint innovation as Community Commerce. Individual small & local businesses struggle to support Community Commerce without access to local and global resources that are capable of contending with the challenges of:

  • Globalization
  • Ecommerce
  • Transaction complexity (e.g., cybersecurity and legal compliance)

How Can the Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network Platform Support Small & Local Businesses in Each Community?[edit | edit source]

Supported by the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform , small & local businesses can begin to collaborate through Networked AI & Big Data. In the U.S., local chambers have been jointly innovating going back to the time of Benjamin Franklin. Local chambers and equivalent associations cover the entire country. Together they have more than 3 million small & local business members in a uniquely American network. Their 200+ years of connecting community businesses prepares the local chambers to play a key role for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth, recovery, and reinvention.

Paraphrasing the observations of the ancient philosopher Seneca, fortune is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Despite fundamental imperfections, communities across the country have been practicing how to connect businesses through local chambers of commerce for centuries. Based on that preparation, Seneca’s wisdom still applies as communities learn to jointly innovate new products and services while offering online and in-person commerce.

Section I outlines how the Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network platform supports nationwide small & local business mobilization and economic impact immediately and in the long term. Section II details proof points of measurable small & local business growth driven by the Service Learning of each Fellow. Section III highlights a particular local chamber and its Community Connection Campaign as a role model for the nation. Section IV invites potential candidates to learn more about the Peake Fellowship and to help local businesses grow, create jobs, and strengthen each community they would serve. Appendix I describes the unique role of local chambers and Fellows in supporting their community networks. Appendix II contextualizes the national starting point for joint progress. Appendix III explains how Platform Development Team Founding Partners support this process as leaders from industry, education, and public service.

Mobilizing for Nationwide Recovery and the Next Industrial Revolution[edit | edit source]

The Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform strengthens small & local businesses and their local associations by upskilling their leaders with new collaboration and commerce capabilities. “The Peake Fellowship’s job is to become the nation’s largest mobilization of upskilling to coach small & local businesses to succeed in a Networked AI & Big Data-driven world.,” says Harvard Business School’s Len Schlesinger, who as President of Babson College served as an advisor and key academic partner for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.

The Peake Fellowship’s combined approach aligns thousands of recent graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses as well as millions of small & local businesses. The Peake Fellowship Support Team, guided by Len Schlesinger in his role as Platform Development Team Business Metrics Strategy Lead, built a Service Learning platform that measures revenue growth and jobs created in each business that the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform supports.

Over the next four years, the Peake Fellowship’s full mobilization will create $16 billion in net new U.S. small & local business revenue (or retained small & local business revenue that would have been lost). The Peake Fellowship Team estimates that this new revenue will cumulatively create or save 160,000 jobs during that period (based on an estimate of each $100,000 in revenue generating one job).

Over ten years, the Peake Fellowship, Community Commerce marketplace, and related services aim to create more than $100 billion in net new revenue for small & local businesses and over 1 million net new or saved jobs in that process.

Fellowship-Driven New or Saved Jobs Revenue

Source: Fellowship Team

For the 50 states and five U.S. territories, the Fellows Service helps local businesses succeed in a world of Amazon & Alibaba. Without the Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network platform, small & local businesses often find themselves overwhelmed by AI & Big Data-driven global competitors who offer more for less with the personalization once a unique feature of a neighborhood store. This was true well before the shuttering of small & local businesses from Post-COVID.

Meanwhile, recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses increasingly hold a passion for their small & local businesses according to multiple studies (e.g., Sezzle Gen Z survey). They grew up learning their way around collaboration technology despite the absence of training on tech for commerce. Many of them face a COVID-exacerbated year of flux after graduation or transition out of the military when instead they could be matched with organizations that would engage their current and potential skills to help local businesses grow.

Against that backdrop, the U.S. has over 8,000 local chambers of commerce which have yet to be engaged as conduits between recent graduates, returning veterans, military spouses, and local businesses. In partnership with the chambers, the Fellows Service upskills the recent graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses through a one-year Applied Learning & Teaching experience that, in turn, upskills small & local businesses for growth. The Peake Fellowship’s Sustainable & Inclusive Growth-driven approach connects to each of the 120,000+ communities across the U.S.

Each Fellow coaches multiple businesses brought together through the local chambers and is provided with training that is enabled by a Networked AI & Big Data-based platform. Fellows complete their year with a range of 60+ field-based certifications in Outreach & Engagement, Ecommerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity. The Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network platform’s systems measure the gains by each small & local business and their communities. Fellows fast-track post-fellowship careers based on their portfolio of local impact. The Peake Fellowship ensures that its training and marketplace meet the needs of both Fellows and small & local businesses across 1,000+ market categories.

Ultimately, this Community Commerce marketplace builds on ubiquitous access through a mass scale and open source social network of all local and global products and services by expanding Wikipedia with its 3.5 billion users in 300 languages. In doing so, The Peake Fellowship’s Community Commerce mobilization strengthens each area served and levels the playing field for small & local businesses. This next generation apprenticeship and free basic marketplace create a grassroots complement to global commodity commerce by enabling small & local businesses to jointly innovate.


Source: Fellowship Team

Measuring Small and Local Business Growth from Each Fellow’s Service Learning[edit | edit source]

Enter the Fellows[edit | edit source]

To overcome the barriers for small & local businesses to engage and grow through social media, a one-year Peake Fellowship was created for recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses. Local chambers nominate the Fellows, and the Fellows serve the chambers by training chamber members to be more effective with their social media as a first step of cybersecure best practices for growth. In turn, each Fellow’s achievements become launch points to various career trajectories after the Peake Fellowship. All Fellows enhance their skills as trusted advisors to the small & local business owners while they serve as each business’s personal tech trainer on Outreach & Engagement, Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity. Normally, recent graduates, returning veterans, or military spouses would have seemed too junior to earn such in a business that is new to them. In this case, their social media skills gives them the advantage.

The Peake Fellowship continually trains Fellows to apply their existing social media skills to help specific business categories grow. Social media strategies are different for each industry. For example, diner owners need different support than dermatologists. For this reason, the Peake Fellowship trains Fellows to handle more than 1,000 different market categories with the understanding that the strategies for each business category are unique and covers over 30 specialties in healthcare alone. For instance, dermatologists want their own customized strategies to their specialty just as orthodontists want custom strategies for their specialty as well. Without this benchmarking per business category, the various enterprises tend to dismiss social media until they see a firm just like them using it effectively. With a category specific lens, each small & local business sees a natural bridge from the public issue of social media to the transactional and complicated topics that Fellows address within Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity.

Quaboag Hills Chamber of Commerce

Quaboag Hills Chamber of Commerce is located in a renovated elementary school.

Photo Source: Quaboag Hills Chamber

Example Proof Points[edit | edit source]

The Pilot Program Peake Fellowship’s seven annual cycles of Fellows created measurable growth across the Central Massachusetts pilot region around the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce. (See a detailed analysis from the region’s Applied Learning Partnerships with the Fellows as a national role model for COVID-related small & local business recovery/reinvention.) The pilot region ranges from urban to rural, affluent to economically hard-pressed.

Take the Quaboag Hills (pronounced KWAY-bog) Chamber of Commerce in Palmer, Massachusetts which operates from a four-room space in a renovated former schoolhouse that many of the members attended for elementary school. The chamber functions as a region of its own, serving 15 towns that cover 440 square miles with a total population of 84,000 (i.e., 191 residents per sq. mi. compared to 858 per sq. mi. in Massachusetts statewide). The name Quaboag comes from the Quaboag Pond that used to be called Podunk Pond, a local Algonquian Native American name. The Quaboag Hills Chamber is proud to be the “original Podunk.”

However, anyone who knows the Quaboag Hills area intimately knows that it is rich in culture, history, business, and connections to the rest of the world. The Quaboag Hills Chamber’s challenge is connecting those dots. To accomplish that goal, a Peake Pilot Program Fellow helped the chamber improve its outreach and then proceeded to support its members with their individual businesses.

Attorneys Marjorie and Frederick Hurst, founding Editor and Publisher of the African American Point of View newspaper.Photo Source: Point of View

Attorneys Marjorie and Frederick Hurst, founding Editor and Publisher of the African American Point of View newspaper.

Photo Source: Point of View

Community Connection Drives 400% More Web Traffic[edit | edit source]

Point of View, the leading African American community newspaper in the region, is headquartered only 11 miles away from the Quaboag Hills Chamber, but the Chamber and the Point of View had never connected in person or online.

“Our Community Connection Campaign goal is to add enough value that we double revenues from our largest advertisers. As a first phase, the training with our Fellow has already helped drive 4-5 times more traffic to our website.”

Frederick Hurst, Point of View Co-Founder and Publisher

“Social media is the next generation of our community presence as a change agent. But if it were not for our Fellow, we would not have gotten our social media off the ground, and we would not have known the step-by-step best practices on each channel. Now we are active on four different channels in a disciplined process that we trained on and improved with our Fellow’s help every month.”

Marie Zanazanian, Point of View Production Manager

More generally, the Peake Fellowship sees one of its roles as strengthening the Community Commerce innovation between an area’s local businesses and its higher ed institutions. Rick and Marjorie Hurst have been pioneers on Applied Learning & Teaching based on their own experiences with public schools specializing in
applied learning: Springfield Technical High School and Springfield High School of Commerce respectively. Rick Hurst co-led a workshop with his Fellowship Support Team on next generation community leadership with the Springfield campus of Cambridge College, a five-campus national nonprofit, higher ed institution focused on experiential learning. Both Point of View and Cambridge College bring a heralded commitment to serving the African American community. The Cambridge College students, who are 57% students of color, were energized by what they learned from Rick Hurst as an Applied Learning Partner based on the Point of View’s commitment to a digital transformation of the newspaper’s
community role with a Fellow’s help.

The session was co-led with another Applied Learning Partner, Cambridge College President Deborah Jackson. As graduates of Howard and Hampton Universities, Publisher Hurst and President Jackson share the Fellowship’s priority on recruiting candidates who can make a difference in the communities where they grew up or studied after graduating from Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges & Universities (TCUs), Regional Colleges & Universities, and National Colleges & Universities.

Elaine Boone, CEO of PTS Trucking, Trailer, and Construction Equipment Supply

Elaine Boone, CEO of PTS Trucking, Trailer, and Construction Equipment Supply—named New England Family-owned Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Elaine publicly thanked her Fellow whom she brought to the event as part of the PTS team and included on the cover of the company’s digital catalog.

Photo Source: PTS

Social Media Increases Revenue 19%[edit | edit source]

Less than a mile from the Quaboag Hills chamber office stands PTS Trucking, Trailer, and Construction Equipment Supply. Elaine Boone, the firm’s CEO, leads the trucking equipment company that her mother-in-law founded. PTS is one of the oldest female-owned truck accessory firms in the United States.

“With the Fellows Service training, we exceeded our previous fiscal year’s revenue by 19 percent. That was especially exciting since PTS just celebrated our 50th year. Our Fellows’ social media expertise was the critical ‘missing component’ to our long-term plan. In the years ahead, the Fellows Service will continue to play a vital role for PTS as we pioneer new growth.”

Elaine Boone, PTS Trucking CEO

Elaine started working with their company’s Peake Pilot Program Fellow after meeting at the chamber. “Soon after, we noticed how outreach started to propel our growth strategy. We got measurable improvements in our branding and marketing with customers and vendors.”

Social Score Improves from 16% to 86%[edit | edit source]

Social Score

Social Score Progress by Bell & Hudson Insurance reflects the 16 best practices (top) used by the firm when they began with their first year’s Fellow. By expanding to an ongoing 86 best practices (bottom) the firm has grown through social media and web-based operations with support from the succeeding 7+ years of Fellows.

Photo Source: Fellowship Team

In nearby Belchertown, Massachusetts, Fellows served another Quaboag Hills Chamber member, the 150-year-old company Bell & Hudson Insurance. This family-owned, 16-person firm is well known in the area for personalized service. But Bell & Hudson faces national competition that spends more than a billion dollars per year
on advertising to reach new customers through traditional and social media channels.

Matt Phaneuf, President of family-owned Bell & Hudson Insurance

Matt Phaneuf, President of family-owned Bell & Hudson Insurance

Photo Source: Bell and Hudson Insurance

Given the additional cost of targeted online advertising, small insurance firms need to effectively combine their social outreach and campaigns with their personal connections and community partners. Given these trends, Bell & Hudson former President Jim Phaneuf asked his son, the firm’s current President Matt Phaneuf, to take the lead getting Bell & Hudson’s social media up and running on each of the big ten channels with support from their Fellow.

Bell & Hudson’s overall Social Score—which measures a company’s outreach against 100 best practices—gradually rose from 16 percent to 86 percent. Matt also contracted the Fellowship’s Social Media Support Team to update the company’s website for mobile phone integration. Once Bell & Hudson achieved these first goals of search engine optimization and community engagement, Matt enlisted his Fellow’s help to begin a Community Connection Campaign that integrated social media advertising. Matt also expanded the Fellows Service support for growth through Bell & Hudson’s branch office 17 miles away.

“I consider myself pretty strong on social media. But there are so many social media systems and the changes are so constant, that I decided I needed some help. Training with Fellows has made a big difference for how far we have progressed, and how fast.”

Matt Phaneuf, Bell & Hudson Insurance

Noonan Energy

Multiple generations leading Noonan Energy.

Photo Source: Noonan Energy

130+ Year Old Business with 50% New Service Growth Goal[edit | edit source]

One Bell & Hudson Insurance Fellows Service client is longtime chamber member Noonan Energy. The 130-year-old heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) company is run by its fifth generation CEO Ted Noonan. On the 100th anniversary of the firm, which began as a horse-drawn ice delivery service, Ted’s father printed a four-page spread in the newspaper. For the 125th anniversary and beyond, Ted led a Community Connection Campaign through social media to celebrate and propel the business forward.

His Peake Pilot Program Fellow recommended that the content be produced by the staff, but Ted knew that would not happen quickly enough because of their workloads. So until his team was trained and could carve out time to create the content themselves, the Fellowship Operations Center provided Noonan Energy with a daily editorial calendar and HVAC-specific postings that were valued by Noonan’s community.

“Our first goal from social media is community building. But as a quantifiable impact, we aim to increase our number of home energy audits by 50 percent this year. That drives big value for our customers and all kinds of new business for us.”

Ted Noonan, CEO of Noonan Energy

Jane Wald

Jane Wald Emily Dickinson Museum Executive Director

Photo Source: Michael S. Gordon, Springfield Republican

Outreach Grows Patrons More than 20%[edit | edit source]

Half a mile from Noonan Energy’s Amherst location stands the Emily Dickinson Museum, family home of the renowned poet that receives thousands of visits from around the world each year. Executive Director Jane Wald connected her global outreach with visitors to local engagement with Pioneer Valley businesses across the region’s chambers. Each step of the way, Fellows educated Jane and her staff’s social media leader.

“We were really struggling with how to assert a social media presence and how to tie that into an overall public relations plan. My original Fellow and the one who followed her the next year have been a tremendous help. It was like turning on a light switch in a dark room. Beyond the qualitative benefits of working with the Fellows, we have noticed extraordinary quantitative benefits of our growing community on social media. In one year, we tracked a 30 percent increase in people attending our events, and a 22.4 percent increase of unique visitors to our website.”

Jane Wald, Emily Dickinson Museum
Executive Director

Brian Treitman

Brian Treitman, B.T.’s Smokehouse Founder.

Photo Source: B.T.’s Smokehouse

Growing Revenue 24% as a Bridge to Online Sales that Prevented COVID Layoffs[edit | edit source]

Another area business that sparks a Community Connection Campaign like the Emily Dickinson Museum is a nearby iconic barbecue joint B.T.’s Smokehouse. With a national reputation, B.T.’s draws customers from across the country. Founder Brian Treitman is a social media power-user. With a perfect 100 percent Social Score, B.T.’s Smokehouse has more than 30,000 followers on Facebook alone, and hundreds of those online community members share Brian’s posts about B.T.’s daily.

“Social media is our only form of marketing. I use my Fellow as an educational partner in my social media process which adds a discipline and cadence to my campaigns. Together with the Fellows Service we have doubled our Facebook followers over the last 12 months, and our revenue over last year increased by 24 percent as a direct result of social media.”

Brian Treitman, B.T.’s Smokehouse Founder

'Alexandra McNitt

Alexandra McNitt, Executive Director of the Chamber of Central Mass South.

Photo Source: Worcester Telegram

Brian heard about the Peake Pilot Program Fellowship from Alexandra McNitt, Executive Director of the Chamber of Central Mass South, located a few steps away from B.T.’s in their town of Sturbridge. Brian also got a thumbs up about the Fellowship Program from the leader of a local advertising firm who sits with him on the chamber’s board. The advertising executive described the Fellows Service as a cost-effective way for a small & local business to have a personal trainer who can then refer work if a more senior marketing professional is needed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian pioneered ways for social media to keep his business and employees growing through online ordering and deliveries for area health workers. Locally, Brian joined his Fellow in recording online chamber best practice tips as a training for other members of the chamber who could learn from B.T.’s response to the challenge of recovery and reinvention. Nationally, Brian began development of a Private Group for collaboration on the Fellowship Network platform among other regional barbeque leaders in each of the 50 states.

“The value proposition from Fellows is a ‘no-brainer’ if someone wants to improve on social media. The members get their own chamber-based advisor—a skilled and personable professional—who methodically, step-by-step, trains the business owners and their staffs to learn about, use, and leverage the strengths of social media.”

Alexandra McNitt, Chamber of Central
Mass South Executive Director

'Bill DiBenedetto

Bill DiBenedetto President of precision manufacturer, Lampin Corporation.

Photo Source:Lampin Corporation

Geographic Expansion Allows for 50% Net Profit Growth[edit | edit source]

Fellows work as part of each business’s team which often includes other partners (e.g.,marketing companies). One business that has its Peake Pilot Program Fellows training on social media alongside a local advertising firm is the employee-owned precision manufacturer, Lampin Corporation in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Bill DiBenedetto, Lampin’s then President, heard about the Fellowship program from Jeannie Hebert, CEO of the Blackstone Valley Chamber, where Bill serves on the chamber’s board.

Bill and his successor as President, Robin LeClaire, meet with their Fellow once a month hourly to address prioritized worksteps, and between meetings for ad-hoc questions, as needed. At each session, they learn how Lampin can achieve business results by strengthening Lampin’s social media one channel at a time, which they measure with the Social Score.

“The Fellowship Program helped Lampin complete our first fiscal year together with 22 percent growth in revenue, 15 percent growth in business from new clients, and well over 50 percent growth in net profit. We extended that growth each year winning new clients like SpaceX with the help of digital outreach and engagement.”
Bill DiBenedetto, Lampin President on passing the torch to Lampin’s new President Robin LeClaire.

Venn Diagram + User Friendly[edit | edit source]

'The Venn diagram

The Venn diagram shows Fellows and systems combining high tech and high touch to strengthen each chamber and community they serve.

Photo Source: Fellowship Team

The Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform are derived from the notion of a Venn diagram between community and technology, with a user friendly mix of high touch and high tech. Fellows working with chamber leadership provide the high touch. The high tech comes from the benefits of Networked AI & Big Data combined with better collaboration. That lets each business team manage distributed tasks anywhere and anytime. These capabilities helped before Post-COVID recovery, but now are indispensable survival skills as online commerce and collaboration became the only way to work with many partners.

Several of the new virtual approaches will continue to be adopted as standard operating procedures for small & local business efficiency even after the pandemic ends. Likewise, COVID accelerated changes in education and training so that people can learn and become certified on new skills anytime and anywhere. Community institutions (e.g., chambers, community colleges, vocational schools, community access TV stations, and public libraries), like small & local businesses, often miss the benefits of the advances in collaboration and education because of constrained resources.

Peake Fellowship Network Platform[edit | edit source]

To help communities progress, Platform Development Team Founding Partners brought together a simple and secure mobile system to support local chambers and their members. In turn, local chambers and their Fellows can proactively train community businesses and institutions to benefit faster from market changes that might otherwise leave them behind.
The Platform’s Learning Management System, LearnerSpaces, provides the Peake Fellowship’s Applied Learning and Teaching courseware for training and certification of Fellows and the small & local businesses they serve. This Learning Management System component builds on and expands the capabilities of Open edX, the $80 million Harvard and MIT open source software initiative developed in conjunction with universities, colleges, and community colleges worldwide.

Fellows serve 30-50 small & local businesses within a chamber through the Fellows Service. Over the year, each Fellow receives a $30,000 stipend with additional financial support. Fellows lead 60-minute monthly coaching sessions with individual business leaders, answer ad hoc questions between meetings, and support Big Data Community Commerce Projects. The Peake Fellowship refers to these small & local businesses working with the Fellows as Applied Learning Partners. Fellows with the required certifications can also instruct these Applied Learning Partners on additional capabilities as requested (e.g., website development).

'Four Level

Photo Source: Fellowship Team

Continuous Learning[edit | edit source]

Peake Fellowship candidates complete skills assessments and certifications after nomination by a local chamber as well as nomination by their college or university in the case of recent graduates. Fellows qualify on each skill set through a four-level process.

  1. Courses;
  2. Observations;
  3. Exercises;
  4. Applied learning with measurable proof points of value delivered to a business.

Once qualified, Fellows begin coaching chamber members while continuing their own
yearlong Peake Fellowship training on more advanced business topics on business continuity, recovery, and reinvention. In a more every day commerce example, Fellows coach a business on how to progress from individual social media posts and ads to a more advanced campaign. This sequence starts with defining goals and includes monitoring and adjustments as the campaign unfolds. Ideally the campaign ends with a final return on investment Client Achievement Spotlight that documents results and lessons learned.


Photo Source: Fellowship Team

The Peake Fellowship Network platform continually trains and certifies Fellows as social media channels and other systems evolve. The platform also provides blended online and person-to-person training and certification for small & local businesses that want to develop deeper internal skills. Pictured on the platform is Cambridge College President Deborah Jackson and her team as they open a new campus which the Peake Fellowship collaborates with as an Applied Learning Partner.
Photo Source: Fellowship Team


The Peake Fellowship Network platform is a comprehensive set of systems that builds on open source software to simplify the upskilling of an organization or community. The platform allows the Fellows, chambers, and small & local businesses to increase the value of each company’s social media Outreach & Engagement, Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity. The platform also enables the administration of the Peake Fellowship itself.
Photo Source: Fellowship Team


The Peake Fellowship’s Operations Center Staff began developing the for-credit, semester-long course “Social Media for Small & Local Businesses” with Cambridge College, a nonprofit, multi-campus institution focused on adult learners. The joint effort was co-led by the Peake Operations Center and Provost of Cambridge College Dr. Elwood Robinson, who is now Chancellor of Winston-Salem State University, a North Carolina Historically Black College/University. The team is pictured here developing an in-person field experience for the course on increasing social media outreach by owners of local diners.

(Visible from left to right: Platform Development Team Director Chiderah Okoye; Platform Development Team General Manager Tom Fellows; former Cambridge College Provost Elwood Robinson, PhD; Platform Development Team User Experience Consultant Wenmei Hill; Fellows Service client, mentor,and restaurateur JJ Gonson; Training Developer Alexis Obernauer.)

Photo Source: Fellowship Team

Highlighting a Role Model Community Connection Campaign for the Nation[edit | edit source]

Making a Difference Pre & Post Covid[edit | edit source]

'Blackstone Valley Student

2019 photo recognizing Blackstone Valley students representing the team who later mobilized during COVID to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on 3D printers sent to their homes from the Blackstone Valley Chamber’s Makerspace and vocational schools across four states.

Photo Source: Fellowship Team

In order to reach the 30 million small & local businesses, the Peake Fellowship Network platform integrates the 8,000+ local chambers who together cover every community in the U.S. Moreover, each chamber shares the Peake Fellowship’s mission to provide a one-year program for recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses to develop next generation leadership skills as they coach small & local businesses to succeed in a Networked AI & Big Data-driven world.

Years before Post-COVID, the Fellowship kicked off training with the local communities and chambers around the Blackstone River Valley and the nearby areas going the south to Providence, Rhode Island or going north and west to Worcester and Springfield, Massachusetts. This region pioneered America’s first Industrial Revolution, driven by steam, at the end of the 1700s and continued to prosper during the second Industrial Revolution, driven by electricity, at the end of the 1800s. However, the region fell behind during the third Industrial Revolution, driven by computers, in the 1990s. The region had fallen even further back, in the current fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by Networked AI & Big Data. Geographically, this region appears to be relatively close to East Coast tech & venture capital hubs in Kendall Square and Silicon Alley; experientially, communities in the Blackstone Valley have often felt as far away from Cambridge and New York City as they do from Palo Alto and Austin.

The Fellowship Team chose the Blackstone Valley Region to be the role model for a national community connection campaign across the nation’s 8,000 local chambers. This section details the approach and impact of that mobilization role model.

'Holyoke Soldiers' Home

Memorial Day at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home where the Blackstone Valley Chamber and its partners responded to the severe shortage of PPE (personal protection equipment) in the face of 75+ COVID-related deaths at the government facility.

When Post-COVID struck, the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce was already supported by the Peake Fellowship & Peake Fellowship Network platform. The chamber coordinated teams from vocational high schools and other higher ed institutions from four states. Each “closed for COVID” location safely transported their
3D printers to the individual homes where each student or teacher was sheltering in place. The chamber and its member-led team managed all transportation and manufacturing within the bounds of social distancing and other safety protocols. Together they made and distributed more than 20,000 face shields to mitigate the personal protective equipment shortages across Central Massachusetts.

Their response included delivering face shields to address the lack of PPE at the nearby Holyoke Veterans Home, an eldercare facility that suffered more than 75 Post-COVID deaths.

Meanwhile, the chamber ran 24/7 support for each of the member businesses to make
sure they got Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and other financial assistance. The chamber also ran webinars to upskill the members on continuity of operations. Especially for those companies with essential workers, the chamber became a lifeline. Throughout that process, the chamber relied on:

  • Lessons learned from the community connection campaign with Fellows over seven annual cycles.
  • The Peake Fellowship’s Networked AI & Big Data platform enabling the region to collaborate for the next Industrial Revolution.
  • Best practice exchanges with the Blackstone Valley region and U.S. Defense Industrial Base leaders including in-person flag officer visits across the region (e.g., a session with General Darren McDew and Blackstone Valley regional leaders).

Networked AI & Big Data Adult Upskilling As A National Priority[edit | edit source]

'General McDew

Photo Source: U.S. Air Force

“As a national security issue, the Department of Defense relies on every business in the industrial base to upskill their cyber & physical operations. Doing that successfully requires a deep understanding of new capabilities like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Trusted Transaction Networks. Too often, that understanding is missed, and the latest technologies are seen as shiny objects to be bought and sprinkled around big organizations. But with enough understanding, we can use those systems to transform the underpinnings of how people and technology work together.

We have come to a crossroads where our future depends on each of us in the industrial base upskilling as non-traditional learners. That includes even the smallest businesses. The future depends on inspiring each person’s passion to learn more; then giving them the tools to decide what to learn first given their interests and mission.

The Fellowship Program inspired me to think in a different way about trusted networks and upskilling, sparked my imagination, and got me to act on those ideas.”

General Darren McDew (ret.), Commander USTRANSCOM 2016-2018, joint distribution process lead for the DoD, Co-Chair Special Committee to Review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Certification Process.

After starting the Network Partnership with the Blackstone Valley Chamber in 2013, chamber members began to use the Fellowship’s Networked AI & Big Data platform. A specific set of these tools matched each of the 300+ market categories represented in the chamber membership. Those tools broadly divide into Revenue Growers for the for-profits, Support Growers for the nonprofits, and Wellness Growers for the healthcare practices. Fellows used these tools as part of their Best Practices Sessions with more than 1,000 businesses. At each one-on-one session, the Fellow coached a business leader based on that business’s Outreach & Engagement effectiveness as measured by 100 benchmarks per market category.

Making Community Readiness A Standard Operating Procedure[edit | edit source]

In early 2015, the Fellowship Team and the chamber created a Community Connection Campaign to help prepare for large scale disasters including infectious disease outbreaks. The effort brought together key leaders from across healthcare disciplines starting with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Director of Infectious Diseases who continues to lead the state’s efforts today. The Fellowship drew on Platform Development Team Founding Partner, Dr. Brad Perkins, a career U.S. Health Service Officer who went on to become Chief Strategy Officer for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Specifically, Dr. Perkins helped the Fellowship Team design how the chamber and community health resources can collaborate during disasters.

Meanwhile, Harvard Business School Dean Emeritus & Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Co-Chair for Training John McArthur convened a working group on community healthcare resource mobilization based on his hospital system experience as Founding Co-Chair of Mass General Brigham/Partners Healthcare, the largest private employer in Massachusetts. Platform Development Team Co-Chair for Training Vice Admiral David Brewer joined Dean McArthur at the roundtable based on Admiral Brewer’s experience commanding Navy Hospital Ships during Katrina and his understanding of population health from serving as Superintendent of the Los Angeles public schools.

In conjunction with the Blackstone Valley Chamber, the Healthcare Roundtable team met with a combination of recent graduates from universities and colleges between Worcester and Springfield, the state’s Director of Infectious Diseases, and the CEO of the Massachusetts Hospital Association. Together, they addressed how small & local businesses could collaborate to prepare, respond, and recover from disasters.


Mobilizing Community Commerce & Community Health Resources[edit | edit source]

Local Chambers of Commerce and their equivalents serve as catalysts for:
1. Public Libraries that act as information sharing and collaboration spaces.
2. Membership-based Coworking Spaces that offer physical and digital services for start-up and business expansion.
3. Makerspaces that provide training and equipment for new product and service creation.
4. Business Incubators and Venture Capital Firms that facilitate business startups.
5. Military Facilities that add tax-funded spending into all nearby communities.
6. Healthcare Facilities that function as economic engines for business-to-business innovation in nearby communities.
7. Higher Ed Institutions including Independent Training Organizations and Vocational Technical High Schools that support industry and professional preparation.
8. Economic Development and Community Improvement Organizations that foster business innovation and collaboration.
9. Large Employers that supply funding for joint business development.
10. Government Organizations that underwrite funding and other support services for new business development.

The Peake Fellowship & Peake Fellowship Network platform started in the Blackstone Valley, as it does with any chamber’s community, by providing a simple way to facilitate digital collaboration between every chamber-related organization. The Peake Fellowship’s Networked AI & Big Data platform—which is organized for every neighborhood, town, city, and region of the country—categorizes each organization into one of 1,000+ Community Commerce market categories.

Among all for-profit, nonprofit, and government organizations in the Blackstone Valley, the Peake Fellowship focuses on connecting the Community Commerce Innovation Hubs. The Peake Fellowship defines these hubs as network-based organizations connecting multiple businesses to jointly develop new products and services both locally and globally. If these hubs in each U.S. community live up to their Post-COVID potential, they can lead the local recovery and reinvention of Community Commerce nationwide.

The Peake Fellowship specifies ten particular market categories that each naturally fill the function of a hub. Within those ten categories, the Peake Fellowship Network platform clusters and connects all organizations by geography. (See table.) For example, the first of the ten market categories in the cluster of “natural hubs” is Public Libraries. That means the Peake Fellowship considers each branch as a natural Community Commerce Hub for Innovation to be reinvented given that America’s public libraries have always been the country’s “original co-working spaces.”

While the Peake Fellowship Network platform lists chambers and these 10 market categories as natural hubs for innovation, any organization can position itself as a Community Commerce Hub for Innovation regardless of its market category.

The Peake Fellowship Network platform also highlights Community Health Resources as an additional cluster of market categories given their common role in any geography’s Community Commerce growth, since all segments of a community relate to health (e.g., houses of worship, the arts, etc.). However, the Peake Fellowship Network platform specifies 16 market categories as directly making up the standard cluster of Community Health Resources.

Blackstone Valley benefited from the Peake Fellowship Networked AI & Big Data connection of the hundreds of organizations in these innovation hub and Community Health Resource categories. Before the chamber’s Community Connection Campaign with the Peake Fellowship & Peake Fellowship Network platform, the Blackstone Valley often perceived itself as lacking in the resources compared to more affluent communities. With the Program & platform, the Blackstone Valley entered a collaborative process that expanded the chamber’s role as a Community Commerce Innovation Hub.
Blackstone Valley Chamber members led a Community Commerce gap analysis to highlight health-related capabilities that existed and those that were under-engaged.

The process also identified missing capabilities that could be added. For example, the Blackstone Valley lacked any nearby dialysis center, but has recently filled that gap with a new facility championed by the chamber.

As a comparative example, Fellows and university volunteers created similar network was created across the ecosystem surrounding the Harvard teaching hospitals that make up Mass General Brigham/Partners Healthcare. The combined resources within the Blackstone Valley provided a remarkably strong regional
capability set relative to the renowned Mass General Brigham/Partners Healthcare. The joint capabilities of the Blackstone Valley have become increasingly vital as the POST-COVID recovery required an understanding of local resources.

1. Physicians (293 specialties)
2. Hospitals (Hospitals with Emergency Rooms; Hospitals without Emergency Room)
3. Ambulance Service Providers (Fire Departments with EMT tag; Ambulance Service Providers with a tag as a Regional EMT; Ambulance Service Providers with a tag as a Private EMT)
4. Rehabilitation Centers (Rehabilitation Centers; Substance Abuse Treatment Centers; Alcohol Abuse Treatment Centers; Vocational Rehabilitation Centers)
5. Medical Clinics (Medical Clinics; Retail and Urgent Care Clinics – Retail Medical Clinics Urgent Care Centers)
6. Health and Personal Retailers (Pharmacies; Opticians – Eyeglass and Contacts Shops; Vitamin and Supplement Stores; Beauty Supply Stores; Medical Supply Retailers)
7. Senior and Elder Care (Assisted Living Facilities; Full-nursing Facilities; Home Healthcare Service Providers; Visiting Nurse Service Providers; Hospices)
8. Dental Practices (All specialties)
9. Fitness and Outdoor Recreation (Gyms; Fitness Class and Instruction Providers; Beaches; Botanical Gardens; Country Clubs; Hiking Areas; Lakes; Nature Preserves; Recreation Centers; Sculpture Gardens; Zoos, Aquariums, and Other Live Animal Exhibits; Outdoor Recreation)
10. Alternative Medicine Practices (Alternative Medicine Practices; Chiropractic Practice; Hypnotherapy Practices; Massage Therapy Practices; Acupuncture Practices)
11. Public Health (Public Health; Social Services Organizations; Education and Research; Free/Homeless Clinics)
12. Behavioral and Mental Health Practices (All specialties)
13. Allied Health Practices (All specialties)
14. Dialysis Centers, Imaging Centers, Labs, & Specialty Facilities (Dialysis Centers; Medical Laboratories; Infusion Therapy Firms; X-ray Imaging Firms; CT Scan Firms (computed tomography scan); MRI Firms (magnetic resonance imaging);Ultrasound Firms; Nuclear Medicine Imaging Firms)
15. Health Insurance Providers (Insurance Firms (Medical); Insurance Firms (Dental)
16. Houses of Worship (All faiths and practices)

Reframing the Next Generation Community Commerce Hub For Innovation[edit | edit source]

In addition to healthcare, the chamber’s Community Commerce innovation process recognized that the Blackstone Valley’s strength for 200 years had been manufacturing, but there was no concerted, next generation effort on 3D printing and other additive production techniques. Working with the Fellowship Program and local partners, the Blackstone Valley became the first chamber in the country to run its own Makerspace and Education Hub. The Blackstone Valley Chamber co-located the Makerspace and Ed Hub at the chamber headquarters as part of a 24/7 Innovation Center.

To house all of these next generation efforts, the Blackstone Valley Chamber and a chamber member who enrolled as a Fellowship Applied Learning Partner, co-led a renovation of a 19th century mill that was scheduled to be demolished. Today, that mill also serves as the U.S. National Park Service headquarters for the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. Students from the Blackstone Valley Vocational Technical High School built out the Makerspace and Ed Hub as part of the $500,000 project. The fully outfitted complex includes 3D printers, welding, and both CNC (computer numerical control) and conventional machine tools with CAD (computer aided design) workstations across multiple classroom/shop areas. Despite the COVID-19 facility shutdowns, the operation continues as an innovation hub running online advanced programs in conjunction with small & local businesses, community colleges, universities, and vocational technical high schools.

Blackstone Valley Vocational-Technical High School students and their tools pictured above during construction with their chamber-led team. At center, the chamber executives hold up the makerspace build-out blueprint alongside the chamber’s Fellow and the Fellow’s Coach.
Source: Fellowship Team
The Blackstone Valley facility was inspired by Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Advanced Manufacturing Strategy Lead Evan Malone who invented the first open source, multi-material 3D Printer. Today, Evan operates multiple Next Fab makerspaces helping to revitalize the Delaware River Valley.
Photo Source: Fellowship Team
Blackstone Valley Chamber CEO Jeannie Hebert orchestrating a chamber Makerspace strategy workshop with members from her Fellowship Support Team. The chamber has been a Fellowship Network Partner for over seven years.
Photo Source: Fellowship Team

2014 Fellowship Team Kickoff with the Blackstone Valley Chamber at a former mill that now serves as a community skills development center run by a small & local business and Fellowship Applied Learning Partner.
Photo Source: Fellowship Team

Recognizing Small & Local Business Innovation Leaders[edit | edit source]


Platform Development Team Executive Director Chiderah Okoye emceeing the in-person membership of the Blackstone Valley Chamber.

Photo Source: Fellowship Team


Platform Development Team General Manager Tom Fellows and Blackstone Valley Chamber Staff Specialist Julia Juskavitch orchestrating online participation by Platform Development Team Founding Partners and virtual attendees.

Photo Source: Fellowship Team

Since 2014, these efforts culminated in a retrospective of what the chamber accomplished with the inspiration of Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Advanced Manufacturing Strategy Lead, Evan Malone. At a gathering of the whole Blackstone Valley Chamber, Platform Development Team Executive Director Chiderah Okoye emceed a November 2019 celebration of all the chamber had achieved. Platform Development Team Founding Partner Andrea Jung, Platform Development Team Founding Partner Executive Chair Paul Horn, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Co-Chair for Training Vice Admiral David Brewer, and Platform Development Team Founding Partner & Rollout Strategy Lead Mark Coblitz gave the first Community Commerce Innovation Awards to recognize the pacesetting efforts of the chamber and the members as role models for what will be done nationwide.

“Working with the Fellowship Program has been a revolutionary experience for the Blackstone Valley Chamber. Our Fellows stimulated us to collaborate and develop partnerships that advance the region and the community and encouraged us to become an organization that truly does work every day to live our mission and not just talk about it. And because of Platform Development Team Founding Partner Evan Malone, we were inspired to create the Blackstone Valley Ed Hub which transformed how the whole region responded to COVID-19.”

Jeannie Hebert, Blackstone Valley Chamber CEO


Community Commerce Pacesetter Awards[edit | edit source]

The Fellowship Network platform’s open community exchange recognized the Blackstone Valley Chamber with the Mary S. Peake Community Commerce Innovation Award based on the chamber’s leadership as measured against 100 best practices benchmarked for every chamber across the U.S. In conjunction with the Blackstone Valley Chamber, the Fellowship then awarded a number of the Blackstone Valley businesses with the John McArthur Community Commerce Innovation Award. The Fellowship established the McArthur Award to be given in partnership with U.S. business associations to recognize individual businesses as Community Commerce pacesetters. (See 2020 Community Commerce Awards.)
The Peake Award

The Peake Award honors local chambers and business associations nationally which serve local chambers, business associations, and their equivalents nationally which serve as the hubs for leading next generation Applied Learning and Teaching among their member businesses. American teacher and community leader Mary Peake was born in 1823. She illegally taught enslaved African Americans to read under a tree in Hampton, Virginia. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was read for the first time in the South under that tree which became known as the Emancipation Oak. Through Mary Peake’s pioneering efforts in education, Hampton University grew up from under that tree. The image of the Emancipation Oak on Fellowship Program awards signifies how much has been achieved with grassroots resources.

The McArthur Award

The McArthur Award honors pacesetting small & local businesses who are role models for the country on Community Commerce best practices. Harvard Business School Dean John McArthur, Platform Team Development Founding Partner and Co-Chair for Training, was legendary for many reasons. One of them was that the Harvard Business School has been there for more than 110 years, and John was there for 62 of them. A quality that made John special was his passion for grassroots innovation. For John, the pivotal learning experience in his life was working in a sawmill at the start of his career, and he always looked for new skills from actual business experience with his sleeves rolled up.

Mary S.Peake
The McArthur Award

Making a Difference One Organization at a Time[edit | edit source]

Photo Source: Therese Delongchamp

Photo Source: Therese Delongchamp

“Thanks to the Blackstone Valley Chamber for connecting us to the Fellowship Program. The Fellows helped me by web conference every step of the way from showing me how to use more of the functions on my iPhone to growing our clients through smarter outreach.

The Fellowship Network platform allowed us to see how much strength we had around the Blackstone Valley. We were able to envision new services with other firms who we should have been working with already, but never would have seen as natural partners without our new insights from the Fellowship Network platform.

Then COVID-19 hit, and I got to understand why all our Central Blackstone Valley’s work on Community Health Resources was so important.“

Therese DeLongchamp, Director of Elderwood Home Care, specialized elder care provider, Blackstone Valley Chamber member, 2-year Fellowship Applied Learning Partner.

Photo Source: Lampin Corp

Photo Source: Lampin Corp

“During Lampin’s seven years of work with the Fellows Service, we’ve been able to get new customers and serve our strategic partners in more sustainably profitable relationships. That began with analyzing which customers and suppliers are most strategic with the help of Big Data and the open community exchange Private Group.

We’ve responded to COVID-19, but we can do even more in the future if we work smarter together. We shouldn’t wait, as a company or as a country, for the next emergency to talk about the essential products and services we can already predict that the country will need. For example, why don’t all of us as local machining companies understand our capacities ahead of time for making essential products for predictable scenarios? That way we would be able to better leverage our capabilities here in the U.S. during a crisis when it’s hard to be dependent on faraway suppliers.“

Robin LeClaire, President of Lampin Corp., precision component manufacturer, Blackstone Valley Chamber member, 7-Year Fellowship Applied Learning Partner, and 33-year Lampin employee.

Enrolling Applied Learning Partners[edit | edit source]

More than a quarter of these businesses enrolled in an Applied Learning Partnership with a Fellow after completing their chamber-sponsored, no-cost Best Practice Session. As part of the enrollment, each business pays a $180 set up fee, followed by $6 per day to continue the coaching relationship with a Fellow. On average the businesses “graduate” after ten months of support on their Outreach & Engagement. Once the Fellows introduce the Institute’s other three business tracks: Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity, the average business graduates after five years. That $6/day service makes the Fellowship model self-sustaining as the Fellowship rolls out 1,400 Fellows nationally.


Although chambers pay nothing for the Network Partnership, they schedule the Best
Practice Sessions so that Fellows can focus on serving the membership. Each chamber receives benefits for their next generation growth from the Network Partnership. (See Infobox on the chamber Benefits from the Fellowship Program.)

1. New Jobs come from two sources: 1. Outstanding college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses receive a paid Fellowship that creates a new job made possible by the chamber and funded by the Fellowship. 2. Chamber members create jobs based on their net new or saved revenue which is measured as part of the Program.

2. Best Practice Benchmarking Sessions deliver personalized analysis of each business’s social media and other web-based capabilities compared to local leaders in that business’s particular market category. The Fellowship Network platform covers over 1,000 different market categories, and each session ends with essential next steps to improve that presence.

3. Social Media Directory provides a chamber-branded and mobile-friendly listing of all members after each business has completed a Best Practice Benchmarking Session.

4. Person-to-Person Skills Development enables measurable business growth by chamber members’ adoption of cutting-edge capabilities through personalized training and coaching.

5. Staff Support assists the chamber team on the social media channels (including the liking and following of chamber members). This builds on the Fellowship Program and Fellowship Network platform’s role with individual member businesses.

6. Spark Event ignite online community innovation through sessions that build on the local pride in the region’s strengths and engagement of potential community resources for growth.

7. Systemic Innovation Process drive the creation of new products and services jointly developed by its members and facilitated by the Fellow-led services for Outreach & Engagement, Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity.

8. Community Connection promotes chamber members using social media channels to like and follow each other and the chamber. More importantly, the social media channels help new, joint products and services go to market, get found, and increase chamber member sales.

9. Online Dashboards offer the chamber and its members access to analytics and benchmarking on critical metrics for within Outreach & Engagement, Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity.

10. New Member Outreach expands brand awareness of the chamber to non-chamber businesses to increase chamber membership.

Fellowship Applied Learning

Fellow Kanisha Hans ’16, Platform Development Team General Manager Tom Fellows, and Fellowship Applied Learning Partner Jeannie Hebert at the launch of the chamber’s 24/7 Community Commerce Hub for Innovation.

Screen Shot 2019-12-27 at 7.44.39 AM.png

“A member CEO stood up at the last board meeting and said that the social media training by the chamber’s Fellow was one of the most valuable experiences they had ever had. Since the Best Practice Sessions are customized to each chamber member, the members can get a valuable analysis of their business without paying anything beyond their chamber membership. Then they get an affordable way forward if they need more.”

Jeannie Hebert, Blackstone Valley Chamber CEO
Photo Source: Fellowship Team


National Rollout[edit | edit source]

At a high level, the Fellowship’s Networked AI & Big Data platform promotes collaboration through community expansion of all:

  • U.S. organizations (private, nonprofit, publicly traded, government)
  • U.S. public or commercial places within U.S. neighborhoods, Census Designated Places (CDPs), unincorporated places, towns, cities, and regions
  • Global market categories (e.g., 1,000+ categories across the economy)
  • Global product & service categories (e.g., 75,000+ UNSPC – United Nations Service and Product Code Categories as well as 150,000+ Diagnostic and Procedure Codes for the ICD – International Classification of Diseases)

Photo Source: U.S. Air Force

Cambridge Operations Center

2013 Startup of the Fellowship’s Cambridge Operations Center. From left to right: Chiderah Okoye – Platform Development Team Executive Director, Tom Fellows – Platform Development Team General Manager, and General Walt Kross (ret.). Retired DoD supply chain leader, General Kross, helps launch the Fellowship’s Cambridge Operations Center. The Operations Center supports small & local businesses across the U.S. as well as their global suppliers and customers.
Photo Source: Fellowship Team

“The model itself—a strategic and tactical partnership with “the local chambers” leveraging community commerce—all in a non-governmental pursuit of innovation, solutions, and success—is a priceless gift to our nation, and indeed the world.”

General Walt Kross (ret.) Longtime DOD supply chain leader

From the start, the Fellowship intended for the Blackstone Valley and surrounding areas to serve as a national role model for mobilization. In that spirit, the Blackstone Valley Chamber’s CEO co-presented with the Fellowship Platform Development Team’s leadership and Fellows at the national gathering of local chambers in Nashville, Tennessee. the Fellowship’s 50 state rollout builds on field-developed, tested, and continually improved Fellowship Program and Fellowship Network platform modules for mass scale.

The Fellowship and Platform Development Teams engineered both the Program and the platform for a Sustainable & Inclusive Growth-driven approach. Other sections of this document describe the Fellowship Program in more depth. The Fellowship also provides local chambers with separate documentation of the Fellowship Network platform as an open source system with mass accessibility.

Call to Action[edit | edit source]

Taking On The Challenge From The Bottom Up[edit | edit source]

Pre-COVID US Coast Guard Academy workshop. Left to right: Fellowship Coach, Fellowship candidates, and Platform Development Team Executive Director.
Photo Source: Fellowship Team

In neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions across the United States, small & local businesses are falling behind multinational corporations in their cybersecure use of Networked AI & Big Data, social media, and ecommerce.

How can small & local businesses succeed? The Fellowship is a high-intensity, 12-month applied learning and teaching experience for a select team of pioneering candidates who passionately want to serve community businesses locally and globally. Fellows support small & local businesses to recover and reinvent themselves through learning to jointly innovate new products and services as part of online and in-person commerce.

Contradiction: Small & local businesses struggle with social media-based growth despite their established credibility and personal relationships. As a result, small & local businesses and their chambers typically benefit less than global enterprises from social media-based business applications. Going forward local organizations should also be pacesetters.

Resolution: Small & local businesses are not falling behind for lack of high tech solutions since plenty of online services and tools are already available. Small & local businesses need trusted advisors and disciplined coaches on social media and Community Commerce.

Rising to that challenge matters because U.S. democracy and progress depends on the recovery and reinvention of small & local businesses. The 8,000+ local chambers and their members can thrive if they effectively use Networked AI & Big Data for Outreach & Engagement, Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity. In supporting that progress, Fellows help fulfill the national need for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth.

Next Steps[edit | edit source]

Learn more about the Fellowship here.

The Fellowship Program looks for topflight applicants with:

  • Commitment to continuously learn from new people and new experiences.
  • Proven ability to communicate effectively, collaborate on a team, make an impact, and be accountable.
  • Online research skills and attention to detail.
  • Passionate motivation to help small & local businesses grow, create jobs, and strengthen each community they serve.

Post-Fellowship Professional Paths

While the Post-Fellowship careers that Fellows ultimately pursue vary widely, Accepted Candidates most often see themselves on five Post-Fellowship Professional Paths:

1. Social Enterprise & Business Leadership – Interest in business and/or business school.

2. Strategy & Operations Leadership – Interest in leading business strategy and operations efforts.

3. Marketing Leadership – Interest in digital marketing or large-scale marketing based on an understanding of local community demand and demographics.

4. Technology & Society Leadership – Interest in Sustainable & Inclusive Growth through Networked AI & Big Data, cybersecure ecommerce, and data science.

5. Community Organizing & Public Leadership – Interest in communities, movements, and grassroots causes.


Fellows experience an intensive 12 months of applied learning and teaching where they instruct local businesses to overcome digital, operational, and cybersecurity challenges. The field-based Fellowship is a distinguished leadership program that serves as an industry-led springboard for the future career of each Fellow.

Photo Source: Fellowship Team

Appendix I. Recognizing the Unique Role of Local Chambers and Fellows[edit | edit source]

Left: Amherst Area Chamber which covers Hadley, MA
Photo Source: Google Earth

Right: Strip Mall Fire Route 9, Hadley, MA.
Photo Source: Springfield Republican

America’s local chambers have always helped their members mobilize in response to emergencies…starting long before COVID-19 began shutting down US businesses. When the Fellowship Program in the broad region around the Blackstone Valley, emergencies and chamber-led responses were already occurring every week.

For example, the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce immediately responded to a strip mall fire by offering a free membership to a specialty food market. The chamber also helped find new space for the businesses that were destroyed.

What made the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce’s response to that particular fire special was the chamber’s ability to send in a social media expert, recent Mount Holyoke College graduate and Fellow Em Shank. The chamber had been offering members and area business owners the Fellows Service of the chamber’s local Fellow as one of its membership benefits. Fellows already know the area as their home and work out of the local chamber as their base for the year.


“We lost everything in last month’s fire that destroyed all the businesses in our plaza including our store. We can not say how much we appreciate the outpouring of community support, starting with the generosity of the Community Connection Campaign led by the chamber and Fellowship Program.

We are especially grateful to the chamber’s executive director and the chamber’s Fellow for providing us with a pro bono chamber membership, and then website development and social media setup beyond our everyday Fellows Service. Their immediate help let us reopen online until we can rebuild on site.”

Hassan Oulied, Casablanca Halal Market Owner

Step One: Placing Fellows In Independent Chambers Nationwide[edit | edit source]


Fellow Em Shank with one of their Fellows Service clients, Andrew Cunningham, marketing and technology lead for Northeast Solar, a member of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce.

Photo Source: Fellowship Team

The Fellowship Program selects candidates for the Chamber Support Team to become next generation community leaders. For example, a young Marine who led Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan finished her military service, and two weeks later applied her outreach experience directing the Social Media Support Team for the chambers around the Blackstone Valley. Her year with the Fellowship Team became a springboard to her future career as a process improvement leader for community environmental education.

In Em Shank’s case, they had traveled 1,300 miles to attend college as a sociology major in Massachusetts where they hoped to settle
and make a difference. Em began the Fellowship after college graduation, and they served as a trusted advisor to 75 local companies representing 19 different industries and three adjacent chambers. For each company’s owner and staff, Em became the business’s ongoing personal trainer and guide on tech questions starting with Outreach & Engagement that included best practices for the big ten social media channels (e.g., Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.). The fire at Casablanca Halal is an example of an extreme moment when a Fellow was able to help respond to an emergency. That contribution only came about because Em had been training small & local businesses to grow every day during good times. They knew the owners of the burned out strip mall because the owners had been active in the Fellowship Program’s Community Connection Campaign to the businesses who were not yet members of the local chamber. The connection mattered because no one wants to exchange business cards during a disaster. They want to work with the people they already trust. In good times and bad, Em felt energized about every job created by or saved by businesses in the
local chamber. Before the year of service ended, the adjacent local chambers also nominated them to be their Fellow.


Local Chambers of Commerce serve in all 50 states, 5 territories, and tribal lands.

Source: Fellowship Team/Google Earth

Each Fellow’s accomplishments support their careers and create long-term mentorship from the chambers, the small & local businesses, and Fellowship. When Em completed their Fellowship, the experience earned them a job as a Digital Marketing Strategist for a growing company that had not found anyone with their hard-earned, Fellow skillset. Em’s chambers and their members took pride in Em’s success as they prepared for the next year’s Fellow to assume their role.

Platform Development Team Founding Partners
Founding Chair / Executive Chair:
Andrea Jung Circle.jpg
Andrea Jung, CEO of Grameen America, the largest nonprofit U.S. microfinance bank; former Chair & CEO of Avon; board member of Apple, Unilever, and Wayfair.
Paul Horn, Longtime SVP of IBM Global Research and pioneer of The Watson artificial intelligence (AI) platform; Chair of the 200 year old New York Academy of Sciences.
Training Co-Chairs:
Dean Emeritus John McArthur of the Harvard Business School — In Memoriam: 1934 -2019.
Vice Admiral David Brewer, retired three-star admiral who served as Vice Chief of U.S. Naval Education and as Superintendent of Los Angeles Public Schools.
Nancy Bekavac, President of Scripps College from 1990-2007 and former Executive Director of the Watson Fellowship.
Professor Julie Reuben of the Harvard Graduate School of Education; Director of Harvard College Service Learning.

Where Will New Jobs Come From?[edit | edit source]

The Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration spawned the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) in 1964 whose volunteers have advised over 10 million small businesses.

Photo Source: U.S. Small Business Administration

Where will most of the new jobs come from to employ the recent graduates, transitioning veterans, military spouses, and everyone else seeking work? Not from big businesses alone since pressure from Wall Street to cut costs continues to lead publicly-traded firms to work as hard to eliminate jobs as they do to create them.

It is no accident that Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet are three of the highest value U.S. companies by financial market capitalization. However, none of them show up among Fortune magazine’s 2019 ranking of the largest 25 U.S. employers. Instead, Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet distinguish themselves by growing internationally with fewer and fewer U.S. workers per dollar of revenue.

Big company limitations on creating jobs extend across the U.S. economy. According to the SBA in 2019, big businesses (500 or more employees) produced 56 percent of all U.S. private-sector output, but created only 33 percent of the net new U.S. private-sector jobs. In contrast, small businesses (499 employees or fewer) produced only 44 percent of the U.S. private-sector output, but traditionally created 67 percent of net new U.S. private-sector jobs.

This data on big versus small businesses comes from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Since its 1953 creation during the Eisenhower administration, the SBA has carried out its mandate to “aid, counsel, assist and protect, insofar as is possible, the interests of small business concerns.” Despite the SBA’s recent Post-COVID relief role, for decades Congress has threatened repeatedly to shut down the SBA based on criticism that the Federal Government is structurally ill-equipped to support small businesses.

Similarly, a President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness dealt with its own structural challenges around supporting small business jobs growth during its 4-year existence. The members of the jobs council reflected a who’s who of industry, labor, and academia, but of its 25 members, only one came from a small business.

Outside of government, the United States Chamber of Commerce focuses on national advocacy and government policies rather than hands-on involvement with small & local business growth. Headquartered across Lafayette Square from the White House, the U.S. Chamber manages one of the nation’s largest lobbying budgets. The U.S. Chamber’s activities reach across the country. However, the bulk of its spending purposely focuses on the three branches of government in Washington, D.C.

Unrecognized Resources For Small & Local Business Growth in More Than 120,000 Communities[edit | edit source]

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters across from the White House in Washington, D.C.

Photo Source: Matthew Roth, Wikimedia Commons

At the local level, what organization engages Main Street businesses in America’s 120,000+ cities, towns, unincorporated communities, and neighborhoods? The uniquely American but unheralded answer is more than 8,000 independent local chambers of commerce. Each serves as a nonprofit, non-partisan community organizer for small business jobs creation.

Most other countries have government-chartered chambers that operate from the top
down. Local chamber roots in the U.S. economy go back to before the American Revolution, and they evolved as individual nonprofit associations. Today’s local chambers act independently without hierarchical or horizontal integration through a national network. The U.S. Chamber only began in 1912 and never was intended to serve as a national orchestrator of the independent local chambers that go by various names—from the local “board of trade” to the “neighborhood business association.”

Local chambers generally operate with member-funded threadbare budgets, small full-time or part-time staffs, and volunteer leadership from activists in the area’s business community. Despite their limitations these chambers have persevered and progressed as the unsung local incubators for new businesses across the country for centuries. At a time when America’s communities and institutions often face partisan paralysis, local chambers set themselves apart as being pragmatic and non-partisan. In each case, these independent chambers share a simple, constructive mission: to help local businesses grow, create jobs, and strengthen each community they serve.

Uniquely American At The Intersection Of Self-Interest And Community Interest[edit | edit source]

In the United States, small & local businesses have regularly self-organized at the micro-local level without government involvement. Small & local businesses self-organize in the U.S. more than in any other country, with the noteworthy exception of Canada. As early as the 1830’s, the French political observer Alexis de Tocqueville observed this widespread American passion for grassroots organizing of nonprofit associations. On the contrary, countries with a history of kings, colonialism, communism, or corruption tended to forbid the formation of non-governmental grassroots community associations that could foment opposition.

Not Your Grandparents’ Chamber[edit | edit source]


At Blockbuster’s peak in 2004, the video rental chain had more than 9,000 locations, but filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

Photo Source: New York Times/Why Leave Astoria Blog

Despite their inherent strength and tradition of service, many chambers struggle to retain members and attract new leadership. When chamber executives introduce themselves at a public gathering, a common self-deprecating quip begins: “I’m still trying to figure out how I ended up in this position. I can tell you that no kid ever says ‘When I grow up, I want to be a chamber executive.’” Part of that joke is a healthy humility that goes along with the unpretentious style of a local chamber. But the underbelly of their humor is a concern that local chambers are “your grandparents’ association.” On a bad day, some leaders feel like they are trying to preserve a community organization that is needed, but too far behind the times to catch up.

As chamber members push for change, chamber executives often worry that their organizations lack all of the necessary skills to respond. And they are right. Several market forces threaten the status quo “local chamber industry.” These forces include: new return-on-investment expectations from the members and the increasing presence in each community of multinationals, home-based businesses, cloud-based operations, and social media. No amount of past contributions will ensure a local chamber’s ongoing vitality. Failure will always be an option as it has been for other Main Street institutions. Witness video stores and local post offices as two Main Street examples. In both these cases, their strategic advantage came from their purpose-built locations, their software systems, and their physical inventory. Then sudden technology disruptions destroyed their Main Street roles in less than a generation.

1. Obligation vs. ROI

Many businesses previously would have joined their local chamber as an obligatory cost of being seen as an active member of a community. Now small & local business owners expect a return-on-investment (ROI) from their membership dues.

2. Locally-owned vs. Multinationals

Many locally-owned businesses have been replaced by national chains, ecommerce sites, and multinational offices that lack the longstanding community connections compelling business owners to join their local chambers.

3. Home-based Businesses

Many home-based businesses resist the idea of joining the local chamber because they do not identify as the kind of Main Street business that they assume the chamber aims to serve.

4. Cloud-based Operations

All small & local businesses gain new opportunities to compete via cloud-based Web services that improve supply chain, demand chain, and global management. However, if chambers and their member businesses fail to leverage these efficiencies, they risk cannibalization by more aggressive cloud-based competitors.

5. Social Media

All businesses face time constraints on chamber participation due to the always-on, “I want it right now” expectations of their customers. Business leaders also have less time for in-person chamber events because they are busy responding to increased demand from customers and prospects for personalized online connection. Likewise, the online business-to-business connections make some members question the future of the chamber’s role in fostering community relationships.

In contrast, local chambers almost never gained their strategic advantage from purpose-built locations, systems, or physical inventory. In fact the opposite is true. A local chamber typically operates out of a modest storefront, has yet
to adopt a state-of-the-art membership software system, and does not offer physical inventory aside from simple items like a printed member directory or a logo’d mug.

The strategic advantage of local chambers for centuries has been the personal connections and community commitment they build among their leaders and their members. That is good news because a key disruptive technology threatening the franchise of local chambers is social media. What is the critical factor for social media success, especially a part of Post-COVID recovery and reinvention? Personal connections and community engagement.

A History of Joint Innovation[edit | edit source]

Benjamin Franklin

Photo Source:Time Magazine

With the right support, local chambers should be in a better position than ever to benefit from social media. The Fellowship provides social media support from recent graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses who are already committed to each local chamber’s community. For inspiration, look to the archetypal 20-something: 21-year-old Benjamin Franklin.

It was 1727 when Benjamin Franklin filled the void for a local chamber in Philadelphia by forming a non-governmental, nonprofit association for the mutual improvement of fellow tradespeople. The group went by two names: the Leather Apron Club, alluding to the protective covering worn by tradespeople, and the “Junto,” a name derived from the Latin “to join.” Members exchanged knowledge of business affairs, drawing on their diverse set of occupations ranging at the start from printers and surveyors to cabinetmakers and bartenders.

They came up with enterprise-building initiatives and debated issues of the day related to social enterprise and social responsibility. However, there is no record that the cans in the Colonies. Franklin himself profited from the advertisements he sold and printed in his newspaper for the buying and
selling of enslaved African Americans and the recapture of those who escaped. His actions on slavery would not change for decades. However, Franklin ultimately freed the African Americans he kept in slavery for himself, became President of the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society, and introduced the first bill to Congress calling for the abolition of slavery. That bill was voted down, and Congress preempted any further discussion of national abolition for decades. Junto participated in the early abolitionist movements in Philadelphia against the capture and enslavement of Africans, the slave trade, or the rights of free African Americans in the Colonies. Franklin himself profited from the advertisements he sold and printed in his newspaper for the buying and selling of enslaved African Americans and the recapture of those who escaped. His actions on slavery would not change for decades. However, Franklin ultimately freed the African Americans he kept in slavery for himself, became President of the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society, and introduced the first bill to Congress calling for the abolition of slavery. That bill was voted down, and Congress preempted any further discussion of national abolition for decades.

From its earliest days, the Leather Apron Club held weekly meetings where members asked a routine series of questions that would sound familiar to any local chamber gathering today.

To quote three examples from each meeting’s list:

  1. Has any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?
  2. Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?
  3. Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?*

*Source: J.A. Leo Lemay. The Life of Benjamin Franklin, Volume 1, Journalist, 1706-1730 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006) Page 340.

America’s local chambers and their members have a long tradition of nurturing new enterprises. Examples of chamber initiatives span the country. Two classics:

  • The New York Chamber’s support for construction of the Erie Canal reinforced New York City as the center of 19th century American business.
  • The Santa Rosa Chamber’s support for construction of the Golden Gate Bridge reinforced the Bay Area’s emergence as the late 20th century tech center.

Benjamin Franklin’s Leather Apron Club arguably set the standard for every non-governmental, local enterprise incubator in America. Franklin was a natural social networker and this boosted his collaboration and innovation that still defines the successful local chamber movement today.

In 1720s America, printing presses were rare and printed words were the new media
of the day. So Franklin spurred the Club to address Philadelphia’s scarcity of books by pooling member resources to create the first subscription library in the Americas. Before the end of 1732, the Club’s initiative led to hiring America’s first community librarian. The job went to a recent immigrant fleeing religious persecution in Europe, Louis Timothee, who eventually became one of the great innovators of colonial publishing. The Library Company, which spun out from the Club, still operates in Philadelphia.

Franklin and his Philadelphia colleagues went on to create several institutions and countless jobs including:

  • America’s first secular academy for higher learning, which became the University of Pennsylvania
  • America’s first hospital
  • One of America’s first fire departments
  • One of America’s first property insurance firms

Franklin is a tough act to follow. But like Franklin, every chamber’s leadership and activist members can think of long lists of inventive joint efforts they would like to start in their communities if only they had the collective resources. If Franklin were in the room, he would remind today’s local chambers that they do have access to resources, given that they live in the golden age of crowdsourcing. However, those resources are only accessible when local chambers are willing and able to more effectively engage the community where people increasingly want to engage: on smartphones and computers, as well as in person.

Unfortunately, even though market research has shown that more than 70 percent of consumers said a social media network influenced a recent store visit via their smartphone or computer, 23 percent of small businesses lack any social media presence according to SCORE. Barriers vary for each business, but seven factors
come up regularly for Outreach & Engagement, Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity.

1. Time constraints 2. Fear of doing it wrong 3. Untrained on how to get the value 4. Short on disciplined step-by-step approach
5. Missing tech know-how 6. Rapid tech change 7. Lacking trusted advisors/trainers


Fellowship Life Cycle Components: Service Learning by the Fellows that helps their portfolio of small & local businesses grow.

Source: Fellowship Team

Appendix II. Coming to a Shared View of America’s Starting Point[edit | edit source]

Section II, Section III, and Appendix I herald the collaborative achievements of the American local chamber movement. These achievements reinforce why the Fellowship Program engages local chambers as an underrecognized and critical resource for America rising to the challenge of automation, ecommerce, AI & Big Data.

To engage every neighborhood, town, city, and regional resource in the nationwide recovery and reinvention of small & local businesses, the Fellowship helps each Fellow find a shared starting point for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth with chambers and their membership. The headquarters of the Fellowship Program’s activity is based in each local chamber, and the Fellowship’s Cambridge, Massachusetts location serves as the Operations Center to support those headquarters in the field.

In the chamber-based model brought together by a nationwide network, Fellows who commit to understanding the local and national economic experience of the community they serve will be stronger in supporting Sustainable & Inclusive Growth that engages all stakeholders going forward.

In the chamber-based model brought together by a nationwide network, Fellows who commit to understanding the local and national economic experience of the community they serve will be stronger in supporting Sustainable & Inclusive Growth that engages all stakeholders going forward. The Fellowship Program purposely focuses Appendix II on Native Americans and African Americans. Other Fellow seminars and documentation cover a range of demographic clusters per geography (e.g., Mexican Americans in Laredo, TX; German Americans in Milwaukee, WI; Irish Americans in Boston, MA; Chinese Americans in San Francisco, CA; Indian Americans in Jersey City, NJ; Lebanese Americans in Detroit, MI; Brazilian Americans in Danbury, CT; and numerous others per community).

As a foundation to what the Fellows learn, this section introduces how the local chamber movement actively benefited from Native Americans and African Americans during centuries when they were excluded from membership.[1] The roots of the American local chamber movement began with a direct connection to slavery. Examples span the country, but three communities make this point as the nation’s first local organizations to call themselves Chambers of Commerce:[2]

  • 1768 chamber in New York City, New York that gained wealth from trading in cotton.[3] The city’s slaveholding rate per household of 41% was higher than any American city except Charleston, South Carolina.[4]
  • 1773 chamber in Charleston, South Carolina that gained wealth from its port receiving 40% of all the enslaved Africans arriving into the U.S.[5]

Boston Chamber of Commerce leaders and the chamber’s building in 1896.

Photo Source: Library of Congress and Boston Public Library [6]

  • 1785 chamber in Boston, Massachusetts that gained wealth, along with New England as a whole, from building and running the prison ships used for transporting captured Africans. In addition, these Boston area firms distilled rum used for paying slave traders who captured and sold Africans. The factories that processed cotton picked by enslaved laborers also boomed; and the universities received substantial funding from slavery-derived profits.[7] All of this was reinforced by the Massachusetts legislature in Boston which stood out as the first of the British American colonial governments to officially write slavery into law.[8]

The U.S. rightly celebrates the country’s wealth-producing inventiveness and enterprise from Eli Whitney’s cotton gin to Samuel Morse’s telegraph. In contrast, the nation rarely acknowledges that until the Civil War, land and enslaved people accounted for the highest and second highest percentages of the nation’s total wealth respectively. Enslaved Africans counted as property worth more than all the other physical assets of buildings and equipment combined according to the pioneering pre-Civil War historian David Brion Davis.

Professor Davis’s analysis details that from 1800-1860, “slave values more than tripled. By 1860, a young ‘prime field hand’ in New Orleans would sell for the equivalent of an expensive car, say a Mercedes-Benz, today. American slaves represented more capital than any other asset in the nation with the exception of land. In 1860, the value of Southern [enslaved African Americans] was about three times the amount invested in manufacturing or railroads nationwide. The spiraling value of [enslaved African Americans], translated financially into an almost limitless source of collateral, mortgages, and derivatives…”[9]

The staggering wealth created from Native American removal, African American enslavement, and their aftermath still shape local economies across the U.S. today. In the case of American slavery, the 246-year duration over approximately twelve generations extends those effects as does the programmatic lack of full citizenship long after slavery’s end.

As a recent example among African Americans, the GI Bill after World War II holds the title of being the largest middle-class family wealth transfer program in U.S. history. However the GI Bill legislation was purposely designed to be administered locally in part as a way to restrict the benefits received by African Americans. This directly supported the White-led business community’s interest in “keeping African Americans in their societal place” and away from higher education scholarships, home loans, and business loans.[10] The GI Bill as a driver of educational and investment capital still shapes America’s wealth gaps affecting recovery and reinvention today.[11]

Fellow Certification on Sustainable & Inclusive Growth[edit | edit source]

Candidates for the Fellowship rarely apply with any background knowledge on local chambers. These outstanding recent graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses rightly rely on the Fellowship for training to help them understand how small & local businesses organize themselves.

The training provides Fellows with three frames of reference based on commerce that have been supported by local chambers or maintained through local chamber compliance:

I. Exclusionary Wealth Transfer Programs.

  • 29 massive land acquisitions contributing to property grants, sales, and subsidies from which Native American and African American were either barred or limited in their participation.
  • 5 major educational, business, and home loan programs contributing to business development from which Native Americans and African American were either barred or limited in their participation.

II. Slavery & Post-Slavery Laws & Commercial Codes. 9 primary categories of laws and commercial codes that local chambers upheld in 3 periods:

  • pre-Civil War.
  • post-Civil War.
  • post-1960s Civil Rights legislation (Civil Rights Act of July, 1964, the Voting Rights Act of August, 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of April, 1968).

These laws and commercial codes created an unrivaled system for the institutional looting and destroying of Native American[12] and African American[13] families for profit. This perversion of commerce extended to every aspect of life:

  • Commercial
  • Contractual
  • Educational
  • Residential
  • Marital
  • Parental
  • Medical
  • Penal
  • Legislative

III. Domestic Terrorism. 650+ U.S. counties or parishes[14] between 1865-1950 failed to enforce the law to protect against or prosecute approximately 6,500 lynchings (i.e., mob-led or mob-supported murders of African American men, women, and children).[15],[16] These domestic terror attacks regularly connected to one of two business-related motives:

  • Instilling fear among African American who advocated for improved pay, education, or residential conditions.[17]
  • Expropriating land or businesses from African American families who were driven away after the murder of a loved one.[18]

The domestic terrorism numbers increase when using a definition of Native American that includes indigenous people across what is now the U.S. At least 597 individual deaths were confirmed in the U.S. as a result of mob violence against persons of Mexican origin and descent alone, between 1848-1928.[19]

In response, the Fellowship Program and local chambers provide Fellows with background training on America’s small & local business associations. That knowledge and understanding strengthens both Fellows and the chambers they serve. As a frame of reference for Fellows, the Fellowship relies on national and local records, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives history of the chambers[20], and the local chambers themselves.

The Fellowship’s Sustainable & Inclusive Growth certifications train Fellows on how financial gains drove the design of oppressive laws and commercial codes despite fierce resistance from Native Americans and African Americans. Fellows who have earned Sustainable and Inclusive Growth certifications explore with community members and the chamber how each of these three frames of reference apply to current progress and concerns in each neighborhood, town, city, or region served.
A Strength-based Community Commerce Innovation Process at the end of this section supports those discussions for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth across every member of the American community.

Finding a Shared Starting Point For Restorative Growth[edit | edit source]

All local chamber leaders independently develop plans for membership outreach. The Fellowship Program looks forward to the process of Fellows supporting all these chambers and their communities from Paris, Texas to Columbus, Mississippi to Northbridge, Massachusetts and every city and town across America as each community strives to help small & local businesses grow. In each case, Fellows work more effectively if they understand the context of the communities they serve. The following three local chambers highlight how a community’s background relates to chamber-led Sustainable & Inclusive Growth plans for engaging all community resources. In the Fellowship Program’s view, if a community avoids its history, positive or negative, the members of that community will be much less likely to fully trust in and commit to the local chamber’s Sustainable & Inclusive Growth plan.


Source: Fellowship Team/Google Earth

1. Community Background for Chamber-led Sustainable & Inclusive Growth: Lamar County Chamber of Commerce – Paris, Texas

Lamar County Chamber.jpg

Ken Higdon, the President of the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce in 2017, returned to his local chamber storefront in Paris, Texas after meeting with Platform Development Team leadership to begin a relationship. The Lamar County Chamber’s motto, Bonjour Y’all, and its cowboy hat on an Eiffel Tower speak to the good-humored energy that the city would like to see fueling the county’s economic growth. The chamber’s new President, Paul Allen, a former educator and Paris native, shared in public interviews his goal for Lamar County to grow based on the entire community being part of the story. The Fellowship Program started a discussion with one of Lamar County’s under-engaged resources that has an international footprint to consider how a Strength-based Innovation Process for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth could start.

As one of his first initiatives, Paul Allen prioritized the chamber’s integration with Lamar County’s high schools on workforce development as they chart the course for an economic future beyond the community’s historic strength in cotton growing and processing.[21]

Today, the county disproportionately depends on manufacturing and retail as industries employing the most people.[22] Any future mobilization by the chamber will benefit from engaging all 50,000 residents of Lamar County.[23]

With an understanding of Lamar County’s potential assets and liabilities for growth, the chamber will make decisions about how to address the community’s painful history of seven documented lynchings in the context of Lamar County and Paris today.[24] A recent East Texas Historical Journal study[25] recounts how Whites in the county during a single 30-year period…“generally accepted lynching as a form of racial control. Locals repeatedly resorted to mob violence in an effort to establish racial subordination…”


Quick Facts on the latest U.S. Census demographics of Lamar County and Paris, Texas

Widespread coverage of lynching in Paris, Texas in 1920 as part of the nationwide wave of anti-Black violence after African American veterans came home from World War I.[26]

Photo Source: Public Domain

The Crisis magazine, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois, highlighted Paris, Texas as part of its February 1921 article called the Lynching Industry.[27] In particular, the Crisis referenced the lynching of Herman Arthur, a returning World War I veteran and his brother Irving Arthur. The public burning of the brothers in front of thousands and the simultaneous mob sexual assault on their sisters while in police custody continues to be an unattended wound in Paris.

No convictions came from the incident. Today, the Lamar County Courthouse in Paris still hosts the second largest Confederate monument in Texas after the largest on Capitol grounds in Austin.[28] However, the city of Paris and Lamar County have yet to officially memorialize any of the lynchings and related attacks.[29] The unaddressed history of the county will inevitably affect Sustainable & Inclusive Growth efforts to attract local, national, and international talent and customers.

In response, locals founded the Community Remembrance Coalition. Klark Byrd, the Managing Editor of The Paris News and the Editor of Paris Life Magazine, highlighted the coalition by authoring a 2020 editorial in his newspaper entitled “Paris must come to terms with its past.”[30] His editorial followed a gathering of descendants of the victims and the instigators of the lynching on the crime’s 100th anniversary in July, 2020.[31] According to the Community Remembrance Coalition’s about page on Facebook, the group is: Seeking to partner with city leaders, organizations and citizens to further racial healing through promoting acknowledgement, remembrance and dialogue. In 2020-2021, [the coalition] will work to receive a historical marker memorializing the Arthur lynching events.[32] Leaders of the Paris effort hope to place the marker with the help of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, which memorializes unacknowledged lynchings across the U.S. as part of community growth.[33]

Equal Justice Initiative Founder Bryan Stevenson reinforces that call across the country. He rallies every American “to help towns, cities, and states confront and recover from tragic histories of racial violence and terrorism and to improve the health of our communities by creating an environment where there can truly be equal justice for all.”[34] As a result of facing history and committing to equal justice under the law, the Equal Justice Initiative has helped lead a Sustainable & Inclusive Growth-based revitalization of Montgomery. In turn, Montgomery has become an important Sustainable & Inclusive Growth benchmark for Paris, Texas and communities nationwide.


Janese Walton-Roberts, (left) a descendant of the victims of a 1920 lynching in Paris, Texas, speaks with Melinda Watters (right) at a memorial event in Paris on July 5, 2020. Watters is a descendant of John H. Hodges, the landlord whose actions set in place incidents leading to the lynching of the Arthur brothers.

Photo Source: Klark Byrd, The Paris News

Columbus coc.png

2. Community Background for Chamber-led Sustainable & Inclusive Growth: Columbus Lowndes County Chamber – Columbus, Mississippi

Prominent business Leader and State Senator Robert Gleed of Columbus, Lowndes County, Mississippi.[35]

Photo Source: Members of the Legislature, State of Mississippi 1874-1875

Chamber of commerce leader and elected official, Robert Gleed, a subject of the 2020 HBO documentary Our Towns, provides a tragic example of the coordinated terror used to exclude African American from local economic growth. As an African American, Gleed moved from Columbus, Mississippi to Paris, Texas in 1876 for reasons directly related to the nation’s legacy of lynchings. Specifically, Senator Robert Gleed, at age 39,[36] fled for his life from Columbus after his near election as Lowndes County Sheriff.[37] As in Paris, the threat of lynching in Columbus was ever present given Lowndes County’s record of 20 documented lynchings.[38]

At 17, Robert Gleed escaped slavery in Virginia, was recaptured in Mississippi, managed to buy his freedom, and settled in the Eastern Mississippi town of Columbus. After the Civil War, he served as a two-term Mississippi state senator, a Columbus city alderman, and leader of his county chamber. As a prominent business leader, Robert Gleed owned a general store and other businesses, 300 acres of farmland and city lots, a stately home, and also served as president of the Mercantile Land and Banking Co.[39]

Dangers to African Americans increased as post-war Reconstruction unraveled across the nation generally, and especially in the South. Amid those pressures, Robert Gleed was still appointed a lieutenant colonel in the Lowndes County Militia in 1873.[40]

Senator Gleed testified in 1871 to a U.S. Congressional commission on how lynchings and whippings led by the Ku Klux Klan used mob attacks to promote fear and cut short the economic growth of the county’s African American community. Anti-Black groups used violence to stop educational improvements across the county which were severely needed for business development, given that African American’s learning to read had been illegal in several states prior to the Civil War. Despite the economic and physical dangers of testifying, Senator Gleed and others explained how intimidation, like the written death threat he received with the KKK’s signature, halted the recruitment of teachers and the efforts of African Americans to get an education in the county. In the words of Robert Gleed, “They could not get anybody to teach them up there, for fear of their lives, either white or colored.”[41] In parallel with nationwide Black voter suppression, violent intimidation kept virtually all of the African Americans in Lowndes County away from the 1875 polls. Robert Gleed was the expected winner in the 1875 election for Lowndes County Sheriff based on the overwhelming majority of African American registered voters in Lowndes County.[42] Specifically, White city officials invited armed White mobs to patrol the city on horseback and on foot to prevent African Americans from voting, as detailed in eyewitness testimonies ordered by an 1876 U.S. Congressional investigation of the 1875 election and also recorded in a book by
Brigadier General Green Berry Raum.[43]

“On the day before the election a body of armed [White out-of-state opponents to Gleed] rode into the town of Columbus. These men were employed as policemen, and the city council paid their expenses for being present on election day.

…for some time prior to the election [White political leaders] held meetings in the county. The [White party members] attended these meetings heavily armed, and the cannon was also taken along. All persons were invited to attend. It was openly announced at these meetings that [African Americans] should not vote unless they voted the [White] ticket…”

In a summary of the testimony, Brigadier General Raum quoted Robert Gleed “We had so many threats of violence…we used to ask for life and liberty, —but now, if we could be just spared our lives, so as we could go peacefully along and be permitted to enjoy our lives as men and as human beings, we would be satisfied with that.“ The Associated Press [44] recounted the scene in Columbus on the eve of Gleed’s election, November 1, 1875. “…A mob of whites attacked a parade of [Gleed’s] supporters. Four blacks were killed, one on the sidewalk in front of Gleed’s store…the only thing that saved him that night, according to historical accounts, was a white friend who hid him in a well. As the mob of torch-carrying whites surged through town on election eve, fires broke out. Whites invaded Gleed’s house, shot up his furniture…

The next day, Gleed’s [White] opponent…was elected sheriff. Gleed fled to Paris, Texas, leaving behind his house, his general store, and its stock, his city lots and farmland. Soon after, two white townspeople claimed Gleed owed them money, and foreclosed on his property, records show. Toby W. Johnston liquidated the store and stock, pocketing $941. Bernard G. Nedrick, a city councilman, took 215 acres of Gleed’s farm for what he said was a $125 debt. [Another White resident] snapped up Gleed’s home and an adjacent lot for $11 at an auction, and later took the rest of Gleed’s city holdings for $500. In the 1940s, the old Gleed farm was sold to the federal government; today, U.S. Highway 50 runs through it. One of Gleed’s city lots now holds four houses, a gas station and [realty company].”

After reviewing a litany of such incidents in county after county, Brigadier General Raum concluded: “…the white inhabitants resisted those measures of equality which were essential to local and general peace and prosperity. They refused to accept the negro as their equal politically, and for ten years they have seized every fresh opportunity for a fresh denial of his rights. At last they have gained supremacy in the State by acts of violence, fraud, and murder, fraught with more than all the horrors of open war, without its honor, dignity, generosity, or justice.”[45]

Robert Gleed died in Paris, Texas in 1916. The Columbus Commercial newspaper’s 1916 obituary wrote: Gleed was about 80 years old, and is believed to have been the last remaining negro who has served Lowndes county in an office which is now filled by honorable and distinguished white citizens.”[46]

HBO filming of Senator Robert Gleed played by Dairian Bowles, a high school junior at the Mississippi School of Science and Math, for the 2020 documentary of Our Towns based on a book by James and Deborah Fallows, who are inspirations to the Fellowship Program and Platform Development Team.

Photo Source: “The Dispatch[47]

That was 1916. More recently, the community has begun to celebrate Robert Gleed. In 2018, the Columbus Commercial Dispatch newspaper described the portrayal of Robert Gleed as part of an annual recognition of Mississippi history by Dairian Bowles, a junior at Mississippi School of Science and Math. The article reported how impressed Dairian was by the successful life Gleed had during such a difficult time for African Americans in the South.[48]

“I was really surprised,” [Dairian] said. “It wasn’t something I had any knowledge of, that a man like that lived in Columbus.” The organizer of the event, sixth-generation Mississippian and Dairian’s high school history teacher, Chuck Yarborough[49] added that “These students are…telling the stories of African American leaders who faced difficulties and yet continued to work for their own betterment, the betterment of their families and communities, and ultimately they worked for the betterment of the nation…To me, there’s no more American story than that.”

For the U.S. as a whole, Robert Gleed is a national reminder of the country’s history of community-maintained looting that still affects today’s capabilities for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth. As Columbus Lowndes County Chamber creates Sustainable & Inclusive Growth initiatives, recognition of Robert Gleed’s pioneering economic leadership, along with the institutional realities that led him to flee Columbus for his life will benefit growth plans going forward.

3. Community Background for Chamber-led Sustainable & Inclusive Growth: Blackstone Valley Chamber – Northbridge, Massachusetts

Screen Shot 2019-12-27 at 7.44.39 AM.png

Like Lamar County Chamber’s Paul Allen, Jeannie Hebert, the Blackstone Valley Chamber CEO, sees education and training as a source of her region’s future growth. As detailed throughout this document, the Fellowship Program partnered with the Blackstone Valley Chamber as part of its Community Connection Campaign with Fellows and a range of initiatives that started in early 2014. Throughout that period, Jeannie architected a Sustainable & Inclusive Growth plan that built on the community’s strong history of manufacturing innovation, business collaboration, workforce education, and public transportation.

One of the region’s liabilities for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth going forward that Jeannie Hebert identified has been a shortage of new entrants to the workforce who are willing to train for a career in advanced manufacturing despite the relatively high wages of those jobs. The continuing loss of good public transportation to and from the Blackstone Valley has exacerbated that shortage of high skill-trainees.

Developing new transportation infrastructure presents the chamber with a tough challenge given the combination of public investment and mass traffic needed to build any new systems. However, Jeannie engaged the local vocational technical high school in conjunction with the chamber’s Ed Hub and Makerspace to work around those challenges through distance learning. The Blackstone Valley also tried to address the workforce shortage by making sure its Sustainable & Inclusive Growth strategy embraces all its community members.

In 2020, the Blackstone Valley Chamber completed the inaugural year of providing the nation’s first chamber-led reentry program from incarceration into professional development. People from the region incarcerated at the Worcester County correctional facilities begin training for advanced manufacturing certifications while still incarcerated. Upon parole, each student starts in-person training at the Blackstone Valley Chamber’s Ed Hub and Makerspace where they get experience with 3D printing, CNC machine tools, and other advanced equipment.

During Post-COVID, Jeannie Hebert personally delivered Chromebooks to each of the paroled student’s homes so they could get their advanced manufacturing certifications on schedule. Members of the chamber already guaranteed jobs for each of the individuals coming out of the criminal justice system and reentering the community through the Blackstone Valley Chamber. This Central Massachusetts program is a pacesetter for the nation in taking on one of the most under-engaged
parts of the American community.

The Fellowship sees local chamber progress on this issue being important for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth across every U.S. community given the reality that America has become the leading incarceration nation worldwide. The U.S. incarceration rate grew exponentially since the 1970s[50] to account for more than 20% of the world’s people incarcerated despite the U.S. representing less than 5% of the world’s population.[51]

Addressing the incarceration challenge as part the chamber’s Sustainable & Inclusive Growth plan holds special community significance for the region around the Blackstone Valley given the area’s formative history leading to the separation and incarceration of Native American families.

The coverage areas of the Blackstone Valley Chamber and its adjacent chambers include cities and towns that were previously Native American villages created by the Massachusetts General Court. These villages range from Hassannamisco (now Grafton)[52] to Waentug (now Uxbridge) either within the Blackstone Chamber or at other chambers in nearby communities.[53] Each of these communities were inhabited by Nipmuc and other nearby tribes[54] who had converted to Christianity in the mid-1600s through their reading of the first printed Bible in a Native American language and the ministry of John Eliot.[55] They were known as the Praying Indians.

One young Nipmuc convert was James Wawaus from a prominent Praying Indian family with successful agricultural crops and livestock in the four square mile village of Hassanamisco.[56] At age 19, he journeyed with Reverend Eliot from his Nipmuk River (now Blackstone River)[57] community to a new home at the Harvard Indian College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. James Wawaus apprenticed at Harvard using North America’s first printing press. He became known thereafter to English-speaking New Englanders as James Printer.

A Blackstone Valley legacy. The world’s first Bible published for the sake of evangelizing in a previously unwritten language is known as Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God, often referred to as the Eliot Indian Bible.[58]

Photo Source: Harvard University

The combined knowledge of technical printing skills and fluency in English, Latin, and indigenous languages allowed James Printer to work with John Eliot to translate the Bible into Eastern Algonquin. In 1663, they published the first complete Bible printed in North America before James Printer returned to the Blackstone Valley as a teacher.[59]

Praying Indian families sided with the New Englanders in the fierce fighting remembered as King Philip’s War.[60] However, they were distrusted by the settlers. During the winter of 1675-1676, an estimated 500-1,100 of the Praying Indians were shackled, forced on to three ships, and then transported to be imprisoned on Deer Island in Boston Harbor without sufficient food or shelter.[61] By the time the Praying Indians were released, approximately half had died of hunger and disease, and others were too ill to enjoy their liberty.[62] Some, according to colonial records, were sold into slavery or indentured as servants to English families.[63]

During King Philip’s War, colonial authorities imprisoned James Printer in 1675 but released him a year later. After the war he returned to printing a second Bible edition[64] with John Eliot and teaching Native American families. He died in 1709.[65]

By 1741, Grafton still had a Printer family member in town based on the will recorded for Ammi Printer, a prosperous Native American local with fruit trees, livestock, and 300 acres of land. He had married and had a family with an English New Englander, Sarah Solomon.[66]

Hepsibeth Hemenway

Well-known baker of cakes for elite Blackstone Valley Region families, Hepsibeth Hemenway (1763-1847) was a Nipmuc descendant of the Praying Indians and lived in the Blackstone Valley region her whole life.[67]

Photo Source: Worcester Historical Museum

Massachusetts officially disbanded most of the Praying Indian towns after King Philip’s War which facilitated a rapid dissolution of Native American landholdings.[68] New England leaders began to describe Native Americans as a people and a culture that had disappeared from the Blackstone Region and New England generally.[69] Meanwhile, Native Americans regulary intermarried with African Americans and census counts less frequently mentioned individual connection to Native American or Nipmuc identity.

Instead, the census increasingly categorized the descendants of the Nipmuc as negro, black or mixed blood despite their continued presence in the Blackstone Valley.[70]

Colonial Massachusetts had legally joined the fates of Native Americans and African Americans long before King Philip’s War. Enslavement of Native Americans in Massachusetts goes back to the aftermath of the 1637 Pequot War south and west of the Blackstone Valley where war captives and non-combatant refugees found themselves “sold and devoted unto servitude” among the English settlers in accordance with the official 1641 Massachusetts legislation of slavery. Even the first Governor, John Winthrop, who proclaimed his goal for the Massachusetts Bay Colony to be a “city on the hill”, had kept Indians enslaved in his home.

By the end of the 1600s, New Englanders enslaved more than 1,200 Native American men, women, and children either in Massachusetts or in transport south to the Caribbean and beyond.[71] Colonial records sometimes showed the newly enslaved Native Americans being traded in the West Indies for enslaved Africans who were brought back to continued enslavement in Massachusetts.[72]

Reverend John Eliot was a rare voice in opposition to selling humans for profit writing authorities that: “This usage of them is worse than death.”[73] Massachusetts had begun its leadership in the Atlantic slave trade, the business of incarceration, and the establishment of race-based laws and commercial codes to remaining Nipmuc community to be acknowledged as a nation in 2004.[74] Nevertheless, the Nipmuc maintain themselves as an indefatigable force in their original Praying Indian community of Hassanamisco within Grafton…walking distance from the Nipmuc/Blackstone River.[75]
Incarceration of the Praying Indians: 1937 U.S. Post Office mural in the first Praying Indian town, Natick, near the Blackstone Valley. The mural includes the inscription on the stone: “John Eliot Speaks to the Natick Indians”. The inscription includes no explanation of the portrayal of entire families of Praying Indians assembled by an armed guard with the males chained by the neck as Reverend John Eliot speaks in protest of their incarceration.[76]

Photo Source: Massachusetts Secretary of State Website

Deer Island Boston, Massachusetts Sewage Treatment Plant

Photo Source: Massachusetts Water Resource Authority

The Nipmuc hold an annual Sacred Paddle[77] of remembrance to the Praying Indians being taken into bondage and onto prison boats down the Charles River and over to Deer Island.

Today, multiple monuments exist to honor Reverend John Eliot.[78] The monuments recognize Eliot’s leadership in the conversion of the Native Americans and in the integration of the Praying Indians into Central Massachusetts colonial communities.

Massachusetts has yet to fully create any official memorial to the Praying Indians or their imprisonment and death on Deer Island. The government has since converted Deer Island into a prison, immigration center, and most recently into Boston’s primary sewage treatment plant alongside the unmarked graves of
the Praying Indians.[79]

In 2004, the Mayor of Boston finally repealed the 1675 Indian Imprisonment Act,[80] which authorized the arrest of Native Americans who enter the city of Boston and prescribed that “None of that Barbarous Crew, or any Strangers not of our Nation” be permitted “to lodge in Town, unless in Prison.”

While the Blackstone Valley’s Community Connection Campaign does not begin to directly address the painful history of the Praying Indians or Native Americans in New England, the Sustainable & Inclusive Growth plan does connect to the Blackstone Valley’s past and resets the Blackstone Valley’s aspirations for the future. More fundamentally, the innovation along with Sustainable & Inclusive Growth better connects previously disconnected members of the community today.

Situational Awareness & Analytics[edit | edit source]

Fellows serve local chambers with the benefit of situational awareness by growing up or going to college in that geographic area. The Fellowship adds to the depth of each Fellow’s situational awareness by providing a combination of historical context and diagnostics to understand how each community can grow. Over time, the Fellowship aims for the sum of the community-specific contributions by Fellows to help revitalize the local chamber movement nationally.

As a first step, Fellows take on the responsibility of learning what their local chambers want to prioritize in the context of each chamber’s past and present assets and challenges. Specifically, Fellows help chambers evaluate
their Outreach & Engagement effectiveness as Community Commerce Hubs for Innovation. The evaluation relies on over 400 metrics that support a chamber executive’s efforts to help local businesses grow, create jobs and strengthen their community. In addition, the Fellowship team encourages each chamber to add a community-defined Sustainable & Inclusive Growth plan with chamber-defined and prioritized metrics. To support that process, Fellows take the time to learn how a chamber supports local women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned businesses.

Community Connection Campaign Precedents[edit | edit source]

There is nothing new about addressing Sustainable & Inclusive Growth challenges through Community Connection Campaigns. As one example, the program introduces Fellows to the 1899 Atlanta Conference study by pioneering American Civil Rights activist, W. E.B. Du Bois. His team’s extensive research detailed the experiences across the U.S. of 1,900 African American freedmen who had become business leaders themselves or whose children had become business leaders in the three decades after the Civil War.[81] This massive quantitative project, called The Negro in Business, culminated in multiple studies by Du Bois on community growth after slavery with thousands of African Americans.

First meeting of the National Negro Business League: presided over by Booker T. Washington from 1900 until his death in 1915.[82]

Photo Source: National Negro Business League

Du Bois and his team resolved at the 1899 Atlanta Conference that the U.S. needs a Negro Business League as an ”…organization in every town and hamlet where colored people dwell…and the gradual federation from these of state and national organizations.”[83] Tuskegee University founder, Booker T. Washington, established the National Negro Business League in 1900 which operated in hundreds of communities across the country during the years when the White-led chamber movement regularly excluded African American businesses.

At the close of his best selling 1901 autobiography, Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington recounts his vision for the National Negro Business League. Washington, who was formerly enslaved himself, explained how, only 35 years after slavery’s end, 300 African American delegates assembled in 1900 from their various “lines of trade or business in different parts of the United States. Thirty states were represented at our first meeting. Out of this national meeting grew state and local business leagues.”[84]

Each session of the first annual conference and subsequent annual conferences focused on best practice sharing across successful leaders in dozens of market categories. For example, Boston business leader, Alice Casneau spoke on rising to the general and race-based challenges of local and national success in every industry including her field of dressmaking.[85]

Casneau’s leadership in the business league followed her activism against lynching, unjust laws, and discriminatory commercial codes with several legends of her day (e.g., Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Mary Church Terrell, Elizabeth Lindsay Davis, and Professor Josephine Silone Yates).[86]
Under the motto “Lifting as we climb”, they rallied 100,000 members[87] into the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs whose growth coincided with the startup of the National Negro Business League in the early 1900s.

By the fourth annual session of the National Negro Business League held in Nashville, Tennessee, on August 19-21, 1903, ”over two hundred delegates were present…many of these delegates came as representatives of local business leagues, whose membership is often quite large…3,000 men and women of our race who are engaged in business.”[88]

In 2017, the Fellowship and Platform Development Team reconvened in Nashville with local chamber executives from across the U.S. and Canada where Booker T. Washington had gathered leaders near Fisk University over 100 years earlier. Together, more than 1,000 local chamber executives committed to a new set of priorities by 2025 beginning with “Belonging and Gathering” as their number one priority. According to the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, the new local business leaders “bring with them inclusive core values that challenge traditional perceptions of a chamber.”[89]


Business leader Alice Casneau from Proceedings of the First Annual National Negro Business League in front of design pages from her nationally recognized book on dressmaking techniques.[90] Photo Source: National Negro Business League

The Value of Constructive Benchmarks[edit | edit source]

Photo Source: New York World-Telegram & Sun

Fellowhsip & Micknucks

Photo Source: African American Registry

Little Rock Central High School students including teenaged Terrence Roberts being protected in 1957 by Federal troops enforcing the Supreme Court’s ruling to desegregate U.S. public education.[91] One of the inspirations to the Fellowship’s process has been the eminent Arkansan psychologist and professor, Dr. Terrence Roberts. His professional path was shaped by his choice as a teenager to be one of the “Little Rock Nine” teenagers who volunteered to integrate the all-White Central High School in the capital city of Arkansas. After the Arkansas governor deployed the National Guard to stop the students from entering Central High School in spite of the Supreme Court desegregation ruling, President Eisenhower deployed U.S. troops to accompany the students to school each day until the school year ended.[92] In a Platform planning workshop with Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Co-Chair for Training, Dean John McArthur, Dr. Roberts summarized why he saw data-driven Best Practices Scoring as a key to nationwide community mobilization:

“The Fellowship Program and platform contributes to Community Commerce innovation by combining tools that score business best practices with the simple principles of being constructive and non-partisan.Each of the local chambers of commerce could logically connect and upskill small businesses and their teams. But they need that common rating scale and benchmarking system like the Fellowship Program scores to bring the businesses and people together. Otherwise, we’re all human and tend to fall back on pride, shame, fear, greed, cowardice, and our other traits that get in the way of positive progress.”

Dr. Terrence Roberts, Psychologist, long-time professor, and author of Lessons from Little Rock, A Memoir of his experience as part of the Little Rock Nine.

Fellows rely on five approaches to guide their contribution to each community they serve:

1. Sustainable & Inclusive Growth Oriented
2. Transparent and Data Driven
3. Systemic and Measurable Impact
4. Long-term Partnership Focused
5. Constructive, Non-Partisan, and Respectful


Photo Source: Photo Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“In every country, diversity in the local business community is like the alloys that make steel strong. Iron on its own is brittle. But the alloys added make the combination much stronger and more valuable.”

Dr. Sanjay Sarma, Pioneer of digital supply chain commerce and Applied Learning & Teaching; MIT Vice President of Open Learning

1. Sustainable & Inclusive Growth Oriented.
The Fellowship Program and platform depends on each community to define its sense of Sustainable & Inclusive Growth that engages the diversity of its businesses across the range of market categories and its population demographics. The program depends on chambers to provide their own priorities and definitions for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth.

As a starting point for the Fellows, the Fellowship Program defines two terms:

  • Sustainability is the practice of maintaining processes of productivity indefinitely—natural or human-made—by replacing resources used with resources of equal or greater value without degrading or endangering ecosystems.
  • Inclusion is the process of building a culture for belonging that both seeks and welcomes the contribution and participation of all people. Inclusion recognizes that every person’s voice adds value and should be heard.

Sustainable & Inclusive Growth is the advancement of equal economic opportunity for all populations and resources across a community through the regenerative expansion of income & wealth driven by:

  • Safety, Wellness, & a Healthy Environment
  • Qualifications & Work
  • Goods & Services

2. Transparent and Data-Driven. By understanding the U.S. Census representation of small & local businesses currently and historically, Fellows help local chambers expand their impact through a strength-based approach to Sustainable & Inclusive Growth across their communities. The Fellowship Network platform uses Networked AI & Big Data to empower collaboration and ensure the more vital role of women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned businesses in local chambers in accord with the U.S. Census analytics.

3. Systemic with Measurable Impact. Fellows focus on helping small & local businesses grow revenue and jobs one step at a time. They multiply their impact through Networked AI & Big Data systems that accelerate the systemic progress that each local community prioritizes. At each step, the Fellowship Network platform measures that progress as the basis of success for the chambers, their members, their communities, and their Fellows.

4. Long-term Partnership Focused. As with any effective collaboration, the Fellowship Program’s Applied Learning methodology builds on strong partnering between the Fellows, the Fellowship’s Support Team, small & local businesses, their chambers, other business associations, and a combination of higher education and public service institutions. Each member of the partnership has responsibilities to the others and understands how mutual accountability maximizes growth in skills, revenue, jobs, and community strength across stakeholders.

5. Constructive, Non-partisan, and Respectful. The Fellowship focuses on progress and the development of shared pride across each individual local community. The program encourages Fellows to listen during that process as principled learn-it-alls rather than know-it-alls.

Strength-Based Community Commerce Innovation Process For Sustainable & Inclusive Growth[edit | edit source]

Three Core

Venly three core chamber and community questions for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth.

Source: Fellowship Team

The Fellowship’s approach builds its Strength-based Community Commerce Innovation process
on three core questions:

1. What are we most proud of:

  • as a community?
  • as chamber’s members?
  • as a chamber itself?

2. Given the answers to question 1, what potential resources for growth are available from:

  • the whole community?
  • the chamber’s members?
  • the chamber itself?

… And how can we expand them?

3. Given the answers to questions 1 and 2, which past and present concerns could get in the way of progress and how could we address those concerns across:

  • the whole community?
  • the chamber’s members?
  • the chamber itself?

For example, Boston as a higher ed and high tech center has numerous strengths for the next Industrial Revolution based on networked intelligence. However, Boston has yet to address its centuries of glaring but under-acknowledged racial disparities that currently range from equal access to quality health care and education to equal opportunities for businesses bidding on municipal and state government procurements.[93]

The Fellowship and Platform Development Teams believe that acknowledging and addressing these concerns will make the local chambers and Boston stronger, not weaker. Indeed, the Boston area’s ability to attract a diverse workforce depends on acknowledging and addressing these challenges.

How Can a Shared View Acknowledge The Strength As Well As Contradictions In American Ideals[edit | edit source]

Before 1776, no country had declared higher ideals for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness than the United States of America. Today, the U.S. continues to reckon with profound contradictions in these national ideals.

At the center of these contradictions, the U.S. has been hallmarked from its founding by unparalleled free enterprise started and sustained by subjugation and oppression.

The U.S. free enterprise system has yielded enormous wealth, yet whole communities have been systemically excluded from sharing in that prosperity. This has not been a failure of the nation’s system. The U.S. has institutionalized exclusion by design, acquiescence, or negligence for particular demographics during specific time periods.

Against this backdrop, remarkable American precedents exist for fundamental and continued progress on Sustainable & Inclusive Growth through systemic changes that are purpose built for each U.S. community. The Fellowship Program and Fellowship Network platform were developed to support that progress one neighborhood, town, city, and region at a time.



“See your Declaration Americans!!!”[95]


Edwin Garrison Walker (1830-1901) became a skilled leatherworker who established a shop with 15 employees, a prominent abolitionist, one of America’s first African American lawyers, and a pioneering state legislator before being nominated as a state judge. Both David Walker and his son Edwin highlighted the contradictions between ideals in Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration and realities in the nation’s slavery and post-slavery laws/commercial codes.

Photo Source: Reverend P. Thomas Standford[97]

Appendix III. Continuing to Find the Right Founding Partners for the Platform Development Team[edit | edit source]

The Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform strategy and funding comes from a unique coming together of Platform Development Team Founding Partners who reflect the Peake Fellowship’s principles of constructive and non-partisan service. Each of the Platform Development Team Founding Partners has a specific skill set that the program depends on to support the efforts of the Fellows, local chambers, and member businesses. The group established the standard for leadership experience in commerce, education, service, and technology with the background of Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Founding Chair Andrea Jung along side the Platform Development Team Co-Founding Chairs for Training: Vice Admiral David Brewer (Ret.) and Harvard Business School Dean Emeritus John McArthur.

Andrea Jung, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Founding Chair[edit | edit source]

Andrea Jung Circle.jpg
Andrea Jung had wanted to join the Peace Corps after graduating magna cum laude from Princeton as an English Literature major. But her parents, who were recent immigrants, asked her to get a job in the United States. She went on to become the first female Chair and CEO of Avon, the largest distributed workforce in the world, engaging a team of more than five million representatives in over 100 countries.

Now, Andrea serves as the dollar-a-year CEO of the nonprofit micro-finance bank Grameen America, founded by Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus. (Grameen America is funded by the Robin Hood Foundation, which was an initial funder of the Peake Fellowship Network platform, the Gates Foundation, and Warren Buffett.) Andrea serves on the boards of Apple, Unilever, and Wayfair and has served on the boards of New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Princeton University.

Photo Source: Fellowship Team

Paul Horn, PHD, Platform Development Team Founding Partner, Executive Chair, and AI Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]

Dr. Paul Horn helped inspire the creation of the Peake Fellowship Network platform’s mass scale infrastructure during his longtime role as Senior Vice President of IBM Research which was a client of Benchmarking Partners, the Peake Fellowship Network platform’s predecessor. As the leader of IBM’s 3,200 technical employees across eight sites in five countries, Paul earned a reputation as a champion for translating technology-based research into marketplace opportunities. Under Paul’s leadership, IBM pioneered its Watson artificial intelligence system and a wide range of innovations and breakthroughs in big data and autonomic computing that the Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network platform benefits from today.

Prior to IBM, Paul was a tenured professor in the Physics Department at the University of Chicago and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow. After IBM, he served as the Senior Vice Provost for Research at New York University. Paul chaired the New York Academy of Sciences as it celebrated its 200th year and continues to serve on the Academy’s board. He holds a BS in Physics from Clarkson University and a PhD in Physics from the University of Rochester. Paul is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has received numerous industry and science honors for his contributions at the intersection of business and technology.

Photo Source: IBM

Vice Admiral David Brewer (Ret.), Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Training Co-Chair[edit | edit source]

Admiral David Brewer oversaw the training of more than 300,000 sailors during his service as Vice Chief for U.S. Naval Education before going on to become Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Raised in a family of educators from Virginia and Florida, he graduated from Jones High School in Orlando where he currently chairs the Jones High School Foundation to support local community empowerment. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for Bethune-Cookman University.

Admiral Brewer attended Howard University before graduating with a BS in Biology from Prairie View A&M University where he was commissioned in the first class of Naval ROTC established at a Historically Black College or University. As the leader of the Military Sealift Command (MSC), he managed the private sector relationships for the sea transportation needs of all military branches. His MSC role also included command of the Navy’s relief and hospital ships during Hurricane Katrina. His energy behind the Peake Fellowship’s mission and training was sparked by his observation of the inverse learning relationship around social media in which first year college students often arrive knowing more than college seniors.

Photo Source: U.S. Navy

Nancy Bekavac, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Training Co-Chair[edit | edit source]

Nancy Bekavac served 17 years as the first female president of Scripps College, one of the five Claremont Colleges in California. During her tenure, the Scripps’ student applicant pool doubled, median SAT scores of the incoming students increased almost 20 percent, and the endowment quadrupled.

President Bekavac’s passion for the Peake Fellowship’s mission with small & local businesses emerges from her experience growing up in a family that owned a small business. Upon graduation from Swarthmore College, she was selected for a year of international field study as one of the first Thomas J. Watson Fellows, named in honor of IBM’s founder.

After completing her JD degree at Yale Law School and becoming partner at Munger,
Tolles & Olsen, she returned to education. First, she ran the Thomas Watson Fellowship as Executive Director, selecting each of the Fellows for two years. Then, she served another two years as Counselor to the President of Dartmouth College before going to Scripps. She also served on the Swarthmore College Board of Managers and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Most recently,
she taught aboard the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea.

Photo Source: Alie Muckenfuss

Professor Julie Reuben, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Training Co-Chair[edit | edit source]

Professor Julie Reuben directs the Center for Public Service and Engaged Scholarship at Harvard College and is a historian of American higher education. Her research supports the Peake Fellowship’s efforts to develop next generation training that combines in-person and online learning. Her scholarship addresses broad questions about the purposes of education, the relation between educational institutions and social concerns, and the forces that shape educational change.

As the daughter of a refugee from Iraq, she has written extensively on the historical development of U.S. civics education in promoting active citizenship. In addition to her teaching, Professor Reuben has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She holds a BA from Brandeis University and a PhD from Stanford.

Photo Source: Harvard Graduate School of Education

Mark Bezos, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Marketing Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]

Mark Bezos’ role builds on his experience in pioneering brand development and social enterprise. As Senior Vice President of Communications and Events for the Robin Hood Foundation, he helped establish Robin Hood as a role model for impact investing. Robin Hood established a unique approach to strengthening the economic health of all New Yorkers by measuring the new value to recipients created by each dollar invested by Robin Hood. From the Mayor of New York to the Harvard Business School, Robin Hood’s spectacular growth has been heralded as a benchmark for constructive, non-partisan, community change. Each

year, Mark helped rejuvenate Robin Hood’s efforts by rallying New Yorkers behind the Foundation’s programs with the help of leading performers from Beyoncé to Bruno Mars.

Mark started his career at the storied Madison Avenue advertising firm, DDB, before becoming CEO of Bezos-Nathanson, the ad agency he co-founded with DDB’s Chief Creative Officer. Bezos-Nathanson created campaigns for brand name corporations and public enterprises from Dom Perignon to Ramada Hotels to the New York City Economic Development Corp.

Mark’s most recent challenge has been developing the go-to-market communications for Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ revolutionary effort to make commercial space travel an everyday experience. Beyond Mark’s work in marketing, he serves as Captain of his local volunteer fire department. Based on lessons from that experience, Mark delivered a TED Talk which became a viral hit with nearly 1,500,000 views and a rebroadcast on National Public Radio. Mark’s vision and skills strengthen the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform’s ability to help small & local businesses to grow during good times and to rally their community when emergencies hit. Mark earned a BA in Advertising – Public Relations & minor in Spanish from Texas Christian University.

Photo Source:Felix Kunze

Mark Coblitz, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Roll-Out Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]

For more than two decades, Mark Coblitz served as Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning for Comcast Corporation. He founded Comcast’s New Media Development Group and co-founded Comcast Interactive Capital. He went on to receive a number of the highest awards for technology and innovation in the cable and broadband industries, as well as an Emmy.

His dedication to the Peake Fellowship’s mission and work with returning veterans goes back to his early leadership experiences. He graduated from what is now Case Western Reserve University on an ROTC scholarship and received an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University. When he completed his military service as an Air Force captain, he helped lead his family’s Ashtabula, Ohio, business where he was active in the local chamber and other community associations. Those formative experiences were as important to him as any he had in creating economic opportunities across the country.

Photo Source: Comcast

Perry Cohen, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Experiential Learning/Supply Chain Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]

Perry brings to the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform experience at the intersection of supply chain management and Applied Learning and Teaching. Perry spent ten years in a range of field management roles for C&S Wholesale Grocers, the largest grocery wholesaler in the United States.

C&S has been recognized internationally for its employee-led innovations as well as its support for independent supermarkets and grocers. With over 90 years in the supply chain industry, C&S delivers over 140,000 different products from more than 50 high-tech warehouses. All together C&S supports over 14,000 grocers including many of the nation’s largest supermarket chains as well as independent
stores. Perry’s roles at C&S included Director of Community Relations, Vice President of Regional Operations, and Vice President of Leadership Development and Education.

In 2014, Perry founded Venture Out, an Applied Learning and Teaching organization that runs backpacking and ski trips for the LGBTQ community. Venture Out brings Perry’s educational skills in professional and personal discovery from supply chain to the outdoors. The organization puts special attention on access for participants who might otherwise not yet have the skills, funds, equipment, or transportation to join a trip. In 2018, the Sierra Club’s national magazine highlighted Venture Out’s success as a national role model for diversity and inclusion. Venture Out’s strength in skill building provides a role model for how businesses and organizations could use their community connection campaigns for growth to better respond and recover during natural emergencies.

Perry is a certified wilderness first responder. He also served as a Division I and Division III college soccer coach. Perry holds a BA in Fine Arts and a Masters in Education for Leadership Development from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Sports Administration from the University of New Mexico.

Photo Source: Diversify Outdoors

Professor David Cooperrider, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Strength-Based Campaign Lead[edit | edit source]

Dr. Cooperrider’s decades of strength-based community commerce innovation expanded the blueprint for the Peake Fellowship’s mobilization to help small & local businesses grow. David is a Case Western Reserve University Distinguished University Professor and holds the Fairmount Santrol – David L. Cooperrider Professorship in Appreciative Inquiry at Case Western’s Weatherhead School of Management. At Weatherhead, he serves as the faculty Founder and Director of the Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit.

David is best known for his establishment of Appreciative Inquiry with his mentor Suresh Srivastva. Leaders in business, the public sector, education, faith-based organizations, and nonprofits attribute their innovation and measurable growth to their use of David’s strength-based methodologies. David has been brought in for multi-stakeholder innovation projects by U.S. Presidents, the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations, and the General Secretary of the United Nations. His corporate clients include Apple, Boeing, Cleveland Clinic, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Johnson & Johnson, McKinsey, Smuckers, National Grid, Verizon, and Walmart. Jane Nelson at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government recently wrote, “David Cooperrider is one of the outstanding scholar-practitioners of our generation.”

Photo Source: Weatherhead School of Management

Sarah Hancock, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Community Experience Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]

Sarah Hancock brings to the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network an understanding of powerful user experience from her own work in IT and entertainment. She began her career as a programmer at IBM before becoming an arts innovator on the board of multiple theater companies including the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.). With Sarah’s support, A.R.T developed three successful productions that went to Broadway: Pippin, Porgy and Bess, and All the Way. Sarah holds a BS in Computer and Information Science from The Ohio State University.

Photo Source: Shakespeare & Company

Robert S. Kaplan, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Scorecarding / Cost Management Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]

Industry pioneer, Professor Robert Kaplan, co-developed the Balanced Scorecard and Activity-Based Costing measurement and management systems that helped inspire the Peake Fellowship Network for Community Commerce growth and innovation. Professor Kaplan guides the Peake Fellowship’s support of small & local businesses, helping them to grow and strengthen their communities. In his ongoing Harvard Business School (HBS) role, he co-leads two major national and international efforts. First, he and fellow HBS Professor Michael Porter are guiding the restructuring of healthcare delivery in the U.S. and globally in order to deliver markedly improved patient outcomes at significantly lower total cost. Professor Kaplan’s contribution to this effort includes the introduction of Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing and Value-based Bundled Payments to the sector.

Professor Kaplan’s second work stream helps corporations and foundations introduce Inclusive Growth strategies that connect residents of low income regions to global supply chains for their products, services, and talent. This progress has been accomplished through for-profit regional ecosystems that improve community-wide social and economic conditions.

Although best known for his industry impact, Professor Kaplan’s academic record includes 14 authored or co-authored books and 200 papers, including more than two dozen in the Harvard Business Review. His book, The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action, has been translated into 24 languages. Professor Kaplan has received multiple honorary doctorates after earning his BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from MIT and a PhD in Operations Research from Cornell University. In 2006, he was inducted into the Accounting Hall of Fame for contributions that “…revitalized the role of accounting in business management and strategic planning.”

Photo Source: Fellowship Team

Evan Malone, PHD, Platform Development Team Founding Partner; NextFab CEO and Jill Weber, PHD, Platform Development Team Founding Partner; Restaurateur[edit | edit source]

Husband and wife team, Evan Malone and Jill Weber are finding new ways for communities to connect education, entrepreneurship, arts, and entertainment. Evan founded NextFab, which grew out of the MIT Media Lab’s Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory a.k.a. “makerspace”) movement for next generation training, education, and production. NextFab accelerates innovation by offering friendly and accessible advanced manufacturing facilities, training, and services to individuals and hardware technology startups through a membership model. Evan did groundbreaking development of the Fab@Home open source 3D printer as part of his PhD in mechanical engineering at Cornell. His work on Fab@Home connected him to MIT colleagues creating Fab Labs for community development outside Johannesburg, South Africa. To start NextFab, he came back to Philadelphia where he had been a physics undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania and also met Jill Weber,

who had received her PhD in archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania. Jill combines excavations as a professional archaeologist across the Middle East with her entrepreneurial work with restaurants. She has created three restaurants in Philadelphia that work in conjunction with NextFab’s community revitalization efforts.

Photo Source: Danya Henninger, Imagic Digital

Allison Mnookin, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Industry-Specific Best Practices Lead[edit | edit source]

Allison Mnookin brings to the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform two decades of experience as a technology executive for successful cloud and business software companies. She currently teaches at Harvard Business School after serving as CEO of Quick Base Inc. where she continues to serve on the company’s board.

At Quick Base, Allison was responsible for setting the business strategy and overseeing a client base of more than 500,000 business subscribers, including more than 50 percent of the Fortune 100. Prior to Quick Base, Allison held several leadership positions at Intuit. Most notably, she served as vice president and general manager of a $500M portfolio of small business products, including QuickBooks, which served more than 3 million small businesses at the time. Allison was also instrumental in the early formation and growth of Quicken Loans.

Prior to joining Intuit in 1998, Allison Mnookin held several sales and marketing positions with Oracle Corporation. She also served on the Board of Directors of Fleetmatics (NYSE:FLTX), a leading global provider of fleet management solutions for small and mid-sized businesses, prior to the company’s profitable sale to Verizon for $2.4 billion. Allison holds an AB with honors from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Photo Source: Harvard Business School

Pamela Passman, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Platform Risk Management Best Practices Lead[edit | edit source]

Pamela Passman brings a unique understanding of how individuals and organizations can improve their adoption of current best practices as they jointly invent new ones. She began her own career as a Thomas Watson Foundation Fellow, learning how Japan dealt with environmental problems. After 15 years serving as a Microsoft corporate executive in Asia and the U.S. with global responsibilities for managing risk, regulatory compliance, Pamela founded the nonprofit Center for Responsible Enterprise and Trade ( develops policies and practices that drive greater compliance and responsibility along global supply and demand chains as a way to create more sustainable jobs, growth, and innovation.’s effective approach to helping companies measure internal capabilities and manage risk led to the spin-off and sale of CREATe Compliance Inc. to another industry leader, The Ethisphere Institute.

Until October 2011, Pamela served as Microsoft’s Deputy General Counsel and Corporate Vice President for Global Corporate and Regulatory Affairs. In that role, Pamela led Microsoft’s regulatory compliance work in 100+ countries, addressing a range of issues including privacy, cybersecurity, law enforcement, national security, telecommunications, and issues related to cloud computing. She also led Microsoft’s public policy work on these issues as well as the company’s corporate citizenship and philanthropic efforts globally. Pamela joined Microsoft in 1996 and until 2002 led Microsoft’s Legal and Corporate Affairs organization in Asia, focusing on Japan, China and South Korea.

Prior to Microsoft, Pamela practiced law with Nagashima & Ohno in Tokyo and Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. Pamela is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the boards of Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) and Lafayette College. Pamela also served as 2011 Chair of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) which represents industry leaders including Microsoft, Google, SAP, and Oracle. Pamela earned a BA in Government and Law from Lafayette College and a JD from the University of Virginia Law School.

Photo Source: Twitter

David Sandberg, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and General Counsel[edit | edit source]

David Sandberg began his career after graduation from Princeton (magna cum laude) and Columbia Law School as an attorney at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York, and then with Edwards & Angell in Boston. In 2000, David became the founding VP – General Counsel of ITA Software, started by MIT scientists to transform airfare search. When Google acquired ITA in 2011, David stayed on as a business development manager.

In 2013, David and his wife Dina Mardell became the owners of Porter Square Books near their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Under their leadership, this classic neighborhood bookstore has become an even stronger community hub. The store features author talks and performances several nights per week supported by an in-house café as well as social media engagement with an international fan base.

Photo Source: David Sandberg

Professor Len Schlesinger, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Business Metrics Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]

Professor Len Schlesinger’s connection to the Peake Fellowship starts with his commitment to the program’s goal of field-based business certification for recent graduates, returning veterans, and each of the small & local businesses they serve.

For over three decades, Professor Schlesinger has pioneered entrepreneurial, organizational, and service best practices that bridge the gap between academia and business. As President of Babson College, his development and expansion of experiential methods of teaching and learning extended the school’s top ranked programs for educating entrepreneurs. In his role at Babson, he advised the development of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program.

He began his academic career at the Harvard Business School where he now serves as Baker Foundation Professor and teaches in both MBA and Executive Education programs. As a special focus, he leads a new Harvard Business School course on supporting neighborhood businesses. Professor Schlesinger earned his Bachelors from Brown University, an MBA from Columbia University, and a doctorate from Harvard Business School.

Outside of academia, he has held several roles in the private sector. From 1985-1988, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Au Bon Pain (a chain of French bakery cafes). From 1997-2007, he served in various executive positions including Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer with the retailer Limited Brands (now L Brands), which owns and operates numerous retail concepts including Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works. He was also a leader in the design and development of the “Work-Out!” initiative at General Electric, is the author or co-author of 13 books and numerous articles in leading journals and
has served as an advisor or board member for more than 200 organizations around the

Photo Source: Harvard Business School, Shawn Henry

Don Bulens, Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]

Don Bulens provides the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform with a unique understanding of web services as a successful startup CEO. Most recently, Don led Unidesk, a desktop virtualization software company. In 2017, Unidesk was acquired by platform provider Citrix, which is used by more than 400,000 organizations and over 100 million users globally.

Before Unidesk, Don was CEO of EqualLogic, a data storage systems company that employed disruptive product and go-to-market strategies in the storage industry prior to the company’s $1.4B acquisition by Dell. Don was previously the CEO of Trellix, a provider of widely-adopted website publishing tools acquired by Interland which is now Don was recruited to Trellix by the startup’s founder, Dan Bricklin, legendary co-creator of the electronic spreadsheet and Visicalc while Dan was an MBA student. Earlier, Don served as an executive at Lotus Development, where he led the creation of the channel and developer community that contributed to the extraordinary growth of Lotus Notes. Don holds a BA from the University of Massachusetts and an MBA from Suffolk University.

Photo Source: Unidesk

Governor Gaston Caperton, Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]

Long before his active part in the Peake Fellowship’s launch, Governor Gaston Caperton served as a role model for bi-partisan, community-led support of small & local businesses. After his two terms as West Virginia Governor, the state named its Tamarack Center showcase for locally made products in his honor. Governor Caperton went on to serve for 12 years as President of the College Board, the not-for-profit membership

association of 5,000 leading schools, colleges, and universities which manages the SAT and Advanced Placement Program. Governor Caperton also taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Columbia University. He began his career as an entrepreneur in West Virginia where he built his small family-owned insurance company into the tenth largest private insurance broker in the United States. Governor Caperton has received ten honorary degrees and has served on several boards including Owens Corning, Prudential Insurance, Prudential Financial, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and United Bankshares.

Photo Source: PR Web

Kelly Conlin, Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]

Kelly Conlin has a long history with mission-driven, media content companies and the way they can transform an industry. His connections to the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform go back to his role as the longtime CEO of Pat McGovern’s International Data Group (IDG), a multi-billion dollar enterprise that helped define the technology publishing space. IDG produced more than 500 publications in over 85 countries and also developed specialty content such as the “For Dummies” book series.

Today, he works with the Peake Fellowship on how small & local businesses can meet new expectations so that they can be “social media content broadcasters” every day. Kelly began his career as assignment desk editor for CNN and went on to senior roles at the New York Times. Business Week included Kelly on its list of the Top 25 “Next Generation” media executives. He earned a Bachelors from Carleton College and MBA Harvard Business School.

Photo Source: Kelly Conlin

Harriet Edelman, Platform Development Team Founding Partner; Bed, Bath & Beyond Chair[edit | edit source]

Harriet helped inspire the Peake Fellowship’s creation as a social enterprise going back to her

25 years at Avon where she served with Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Founding Chair, Andrea Jung. Together, they were supported by Benchmarking Partners, the Peake Fellowship Network platform’s predecessor. Harriet’s roles at Avon included Senior Vice President of IT and Supply Chain. She also served as a member of the Avon Executive Committee and member of the Finance Committee. Harriet currently serves as Chair of Bed Bath & Beyond. She previously served as Vice Chair of Emigrant Bank, a family-owned and run community bank which is one of the ten largest privately held banks in the United States.

Harriet joined Emigrant Bank in 2008 and had responsibility for Finance Operations, Information Technology, and Credit Administration. Harriet also serves on the public company boards of restaurant industry conglomerate Brinker International and insurance risk services provider Assurant as well as serving as Vice Chair of Bucknell University. Previously, Harriet served on the boards of Hershey, global biopharmaceutical company UCB, mail order retailer Blair Corporation, e-procurement software firm Ariba, and the New York Blood Center. Harriet holds a BA in Music from Bucknell University and an MBA from Fordham University in Marketing and Operations Research.

Photo Source: Assurant

John Esler, Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]

John Esler is a lifelong entrepreneur with a passion for community service and designing scalable processes for local innovation and growth. He leads the Greater Worcester, MA introduction of Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) to provide more opportunities for launching and scaling up businesses through grants, training, and mentorship.

John’s own entrepreneurship experiences started as a student working at the Saratoga Springs horse racetrack in upstate New York before attending Hudson Valley Community College on the way to the State University of New York. Through a disciplined team innovation process, he led the creation and growth for the largest national affiliate for Renewal by Andersen, the replacement window division of
Andersen Windows, America’s 100+ year old benchmark for quality window manufacturing. After growing Esler Companies to 2,000 employees, John passed the torch of operational leadership and ownership. John credits the growth of Esler Companies to the basic social enterprise formula: teammates who do the right thing for a worthy mission will create a profitable, sustainable organization.

John serves on the Entrepreneurship Advisory Board at Worcester State University where he guest teaches and mentors students. John does the same at Babson College where he earned his MBA.

Photo Source: Esler Companies

Richard Joseph, Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]

Richard Joseph was the CEO of Charleston, South Carolina-based Arcadia Publishing, the largest local and regional history publisher in the United States. Family-owned Arcadia is a strategic partner in the Peake Fellowship’s campaign to drive community innovation based on each area’s past achievements and pride of the locals. Best known for its Images of America series, Arcadia has published more than 13,000 titles on communities across America written by more than 9,000 local authors. Arcadia has worked with the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform as a strategic partner for collaboration and Community Commerce.

Richard is a third generation bookseller. His mother and grandmother owned a successful secondhand bookstore in South Africa in the 1950’s. His father later joined the family’s business and opened Exclusive Books, which became South Africa’s leading bookseller. After relocating to England, Richard and his father acquired four bookstores, which they grew into a 40-location market leader.

Photo Source: Arcadia Publishing

Robert Keith Jr., Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]

As a longtime internet venture capital innovator, Bob Keith served as an early advisor and funder of Benchmarking Partners, the Peake Fellowship Network platform’s predecessor. He currently chairs the investment committee for Spring Point Partners, the social impact fund for one of the nation’s oldest family offices, led by the fifth generation Berwind family. During the 19th century, the family ran the world’s largest coal operations and today leads learning innovation and clean water initiatives.

After a successful career in banking, Bob held a range of executive roles for pioneering venture funds: Co-founder and CEO of TL (Technology Leaders) Ventures, which managed $1.5 billion in capital; Chair of The Reinvestment Fund, a $400 million not-for-profit community investor which focuses on rehabilitating neighborhoods, real estate, charter school lending, and renewable energy; Chair of Ben Franklin Technology Partners, a leading social impact funder of seed-stage investments. Bob served as a board member of the National Venture Association and has been recognized with the Visionary Award of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NIFTY). He is a graduate of Amherst College and Temple University School of Law.

Photo Source: Nouveau Capital

Vani Kola, Platform Development Team Founding Partner; Kalaari Capital CEO[edit | edit source]

Vani Kola began her career training as an engineer then as the founder of Silicon Valley eProcurement software vendor, RightWorks. She went on to sell RightWorks for $700 million dollars before going back to India and pioneering the venture capital industry there.

Her connection to the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network Platform goes back to her time as a RightWorks client for go-to-market services offered by Benchmarking Partners, the company that formed the Peake Fellowship Network platform. Despite her prominence as a global business leader, Vani has been a champion of small & local businesses in the U.S., India, and worldwide. In that spirit, she helps guide the Peake Fellowship Program’s strategy of helping local businesses be glocal successes at home and abroad. Vani holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Osmania University and a MS in Electrical Engineering from Arizona State University.

Photo Source: Vani Kola

Ed Lange, Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]

Ed Lange is SAP’s former Chief Customer Officer of SAP Worldwide and longtime client of Benchmarking Partners. Ed began his career at Accenture as a director for the software products division where he advised clients on manufacturing, distribution and financial software decisions. Ed was appointed to the Board of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). He earned a BS in General Business from Michigan State University.

Photo Source: SAP

John Malone, PHD, Platform Development Team Founding Partner; Chairman, Liberty Media[edit | edit source]

Dr. John Malone is a cable and entertainment Internet pioneer. He is founder and Chairman of Liberty Media where his son Evan is a board member. John currently serves on several boards including Discovery Communications, Charter Communications, Expedia, Lions Gate Entertainment, and Cato Institute. John received a BS in Electrical Engineering and Economics as a Phi Beta Kappa and merit scholar at Yale University. He went on to receive his MS in Industrial Management and a PhD in Operations Research from Johns Hopkins where he also received an honorary doctorate in 2012.

Dr. Malone began his career in 1963 at Bell Telephone Laboratories/AT&T in economic
planning and R&D before joining McKinsey. He later became Group Vice President at General Instrument Corporation, President of Jerrold Electronics, and then the longtime President, CEO, and later Chairman of Tele-Communications Inc. He has received numerous awards and is frequently profiled as a role model for innovative CEOs who shape an industry.

Photo Source: Liberty Media

Charlie Martin, Platform Development Team Founding Partner; Healthcare Industry Innovator[edit | edit source]

Charlie Martin has been a career-long catalyst for improvements in healthcare, and his vision for distributed networks helped to shape the Peake Fellowship. Most recently, Charlie served as Vanguard Health Systems’ Chairman and CEO from its founding in 1997 to acquisition by Tenet Healthcare in 2013 for $4.3 billion.

Prior to forming Vanguard Health Systems, he served as Chairman, President and CEO
of OrNda HealthCorp. Under his leadership, OrNda grew from $450 million to $3 billion in revenue over four years to become the nation’s third-largest investor-owned hospital management company. He has also served as President, Director, and COO of HealthTrust Inc; Executive Vice President and Director of Hospital Corporation of America; and COO and Director of General Care Corp.

Photo Source: Nashville Business Journal

Brad Perkins, M.D., Platform Development Team Founding Partner; Former CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer[edit | edit source]

Dr. Brad Perkins helped to craft the vision for the Peake Fellowship’s efforts in community healthcare innovation when he was the Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Innovation Officer for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. He currently serves as Chief Medical Officer with genetics pioneer Dr. Craig Venter at Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI) and is responsible for leading HLI’s clinical and therapeutic operations. Prior to joining HLI, he was Executive Vice President for Strategy and Innovation and Chief Transformation Officer at Vanguard Health Systems, a multi-state, for-profit, integrated health services provider with nearly 46,000 employees.

Before entering the private sector, Dr. Perkins served two decades in the U.S. Public Health Service and the CDC where he led the Meningitis and Special Pathogens Branch and investigated global bacterial disease epidemics. He co-discovered the bacteria that causes Cat Scratch diseases and conducted research leading to development of several new bacterial meningitis and pneumonia vaccines, now the global standard for vaccine therapy. In 2001, Dr. Perkins led the field and laboratory investigations into U.S. anthrax attacks and helped build the nation’s emergency response capability. He also led CDC efforts to improve population health for specific demographic groups. Brad earned a BA in Microbiology and an M.D from University of Missouri. He did his residency at Baylor College of Medicine and earned an MBA from Emory University.

Photo Source: HLI

John McArthur In Memoriam (1934-2019), Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Co-Chair for Training; Harvard Business School Dean Emeritus[edit | edit source]

Known for his quiet but effective leadership style, Dean McArthur served as founding Co-Chair of Partners HealthCare System that brought together two leading Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals: Brigham and Women’s Hospital which John chaired and Massachusetts General Hospital. Partners grew to become the largest private employer in Massachusetts.

In addition to his decades of service to the Harvard Business School (HBS), Dean McArthur also served as Senior Adviser to the President of The World Bank and as Chair of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Other organizations where he served as a director or senior advisor included Benchmarking Partners, Chase Manhattan Corporation, Duke University Health System, GlaxoSmithKline, Partners In Health, and Thomson Reuters Founders Share. In recognition of his service, HBS established the John and Natty McArthur University Professorship and dedicated McArthur Hall; Brigham and Women’s Hospital established the John H. McArthur Fellowships in Medicine and Management; and the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada created the John H. McArthur Distinguished Fellowship. With one of his mentors, John C. Whitehead,
Dean McArthur co-founded the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative which has become a role model for similar programs at business schools around the world.

John McArthur

John McArthur celebrating his 80th birthday with Platform Development Team Founding Partner John Whitehead and Platform Development Team CEO Ted Rybeck. From left to right: Ted Rybeck, John Whitehead, and John McArthur.

Photo Source: Fellowship Team/Cynthia Whitehead

In turn, John Whitehead and John McArthur worked together to develop the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network Platform team. Dean McArthur drew particular inspiration for the Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network platform’s applied learning methodology from how John Whitehead led Goldman Sachs after serving at D-Day and receiving a GI Bill scholarship to HBS. Dean McArthur helped define field-based education systems at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Switzerland and then at other universities worldwide. Even into the final few weeks of his life, John traveled back and forth to Istanbul as part of efforts to strengthen university programs in Turkey.

Along with all his other accomplishments, Dean McArthur was legendary in part because, at the time of his passing in 2019, HBS had existed for 111 years and John had been there for 62 of them. He might never have gone to university, but the owner of the Western Canada sawmill where John worked in high school heard that John was staying on at the mill instead of going to college. The mill owner encouraged John by telling him that the larger community needed the contributions that would come out of his education and offered to pay for his schooling.

For all Dean McArthur’s global experience John often cited that high school job at his hometown sawmill as the pivotal opportunity of his career. A native of Western Canada, John earned a Bachelor of Commerce in Forestry from the University of British Columbia, his Doctorate from the Harvard Business School, and a number of honorary doctorates. Dean McArthur shaped the Peake Fellowship’s mission to provide a one-year program for recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses to develop next generation leadership skills as they coach small & local businesses to succeed in a Networked AI & Big Data-driven world. He found meaning through the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform’s community commerce innovations by inventing with people he loved. The feeling was definitely mutual, and John’s culture setting role makes a difference every day.

Photo Source: Harvard Business School


How will Main Streets across the entire country rise to America’s small & local business challenge as each neighborhood, town, city, and region tries to mobilize their Post-COVID recovery and reinvention? By adopting Networked AI & Big Data-based capabilities for 24/7 responsiveness and innovation, small & local businesses across the country can upskill for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth through Community Commerce.

Photo Source: Arizona Daily Independent News Network, Fellowship Team