Being a B Corp means working toward the goal of using business as a force for good. It also means being part of a collaborative, compassionate community that works together to make change happen.
In the case of veterans seeking to re-enter civilian life, community can make all the difference in successful reintegration. Several B Corps are coming together to ensure former Special Operations Forces — members of elite military units such as the Green Berets — have built-in avenues to translate their advanced training into the corporate and entrepreneurial world of the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Green Beret Foundation (GBF) is a national nonprofit charitable foundation that works to extend transition support services for U.S. Army Special Forces as they shift from military to civilian life. Former Green Beret Manny Parra, a Go-To-Market Manager at Future State, an Oakland-based management consultant firm and Certified B Corporation, got involved with the GBF after exiting the military in 2010 as a Staff Sergeant. “GBF executive director Jennifer Paquette was instrumental in expanding my professional network to support my next mission, completing a business degree at the University of San Francisco and beginning my journey down the path of entrepreneurialism,” Parra says.
“We’re highly adaptable, resourceful and professionally trained in how to build networks. It all starts with people, and putting them at the center of your design.”
After successfully completing his degree and finding business success with the networks GBF helped him establish, Parra became a GBF member and today is working to build the Bay Area chapter of the organization and GBF’s networking pipeline program, The Next Ridgeline, to help other veterans find success in the Bay Area. GBF and its network connections have found that Special Forces training is particularly adaptable to the tech sector and entrepreneurship, both in high demand in Silicon Valley.
“These people are selected to go through Special Forces training because they are adaptable, intelligent and self-reliant,” says former Green Beret and entrepreneur Scotty Neil. Their training focuses on complex operations, often involving a focus on humanitarianism and responsiveness in rapidly changing landscapes. The goal of Special Forces missions often has more to do with community-building, and furthering a better and safer world, than with combat. This makes veterans of these organizations particularly aligned with beneficial and impact business, where a huge diversity of variables are woven together to combine bottom-line success with the well-being of people and the planet.
Recognizing this inherent connection, several B Corps have gotten involved with the GBF and the Bay Area launch of The Next Ridgeline. Future State, named Best for Workers in both 2016 and 2017, enables its employees to dedicate many hours each year to nonprofit and passion projects important to them. Parra says the organization’s “people-first” model was a perfect fit with his Green Beret training. “We’re excited to build out a pipeline to connect Green Berets to Silicon Valley tech companies, and show the multifaceted abilities these special forces veteran bring to a team,” Parra says. “We’re highly adaptable, resourceful, and professionally trained in how to build networks. It all starts with people, and putting them at the center of your design.”
Through the B Corp network, Parra connected with fellow Certified B Corp and 2017 Best for the World honoree ScoutComms, the nation’s leading communications, advocacy and philanthropic strategy firm dedicated to providing services that support veterans and military families. ScoutComms CEO and Founder Fred Wellman, a retired Army Aeroscout Pilot and Public Affairs Officer, who is a former spokesperson for Generals David Petraeus and Martin Dempsey, was eager to team with a fellow B Corp and support another veteran-focused organization. “ScoutComms’ social mission is to support the veterans and military family community, so it’s just a natural fit for us to help in any way possible as GBF launches this new effort for our Special Operators,” Wellman says. “We have worked with a number of organizations looking to help with the post-military transition. SF soldiers face a different kind of challenge than most, so anything we can do is important to us.”
The Next Ridgeline San Francisco Bay Area is a new chapter of the Green Beret Foundation, and aims to help drive the ingenuity and humanitarian skills of Special Forces veterans into Silicon Valley and other innovative industries. Its program launch celebration will take place on Nov. 3, 2017, on the top floor of the Marriott Marquis, San Francisco, known as the View Lounge.
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