Below are the Innovator Profiles from those featured in the Quarterly Innovation Showcase
Second Quarter Innovators
About Mihai: Mihai Patru is the Executive Director of Caravanserai Project, a social impact venture working to support mission-driven organizations, and an Entrepreneur in Residence on Social Entrepreneurship at University of California in Riverside. Prior, he served as a Senior Fellow at the School of Public Policy, University of California in Riverside where he designed and launched the first social entrepreneurship pre-accelerator at the University. He started his professional career as a diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania and served in various positions from desk officer to advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Deputy Minister for Global Affairs. Later, he joined the Center for Transatlantic Relations, Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, as a Senior Fellow. He is a recipient of the U.S. State Department Transatlantic Diplomatic Fellowship (2013/2014 cohort). He has founded or advised for several social impact ventures in the US, Romania and Guatemala. He completed his graduate work at Central European University in Budapest (MA ’10) and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC (MIPP ’17).
About Graciela: Graciela Moran, External Affairs Officer Graciela joined Caravanserai Project in 2021. Prior, she served as President and CEO of the Associated Students Incorporated, the student government at California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB), advocating for all college students at the local state and federal level. In 2020, she was Majority Leader Eloise Gomez Reyes 30 under 30 Awardee and is the recipient of the CSUSB’s Association of Latino Faculty, Staff & Students Scholarship (2021) and of the Women in California Leadership Minerva Scholarship (2020). Graciela is a native Inland Empire resident. She graduated from California State University San Bernardino with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies. Currently, she is pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at San Diego State University and serves on the board of Latinx Professionals.
About Caravanserai Project: Caravanserai Project is a hybrid social impact venture striving to identify, mobilize and energize mission-driven leaders, whether they are explorers or advanced. We support their entrepreneurial journeys of building sustainable, relevant, future-ready and system-change ventures, for profit and nonprofit alike. Our work focuses on the development and implementation of accountability systems, supplying specialized skills and futures-thinking strategies and bringing together networks of individuals to help their ideas flourish, accelerate and change the world.
For more information visit: https://caravanseraiproject.org/
About Kevin: Kevin Meredith is a co-founder at The WESEE Collective; a united set of endeavors that are committed to find, foster, and enhance the meaning and outcomes of value around the world by simultaneously advancing Wellness, Education, Society, Ethics and Environment. Kevin directly leads two subsidiaries: 4th Sector Innovations and Prospour. Tapping into a network of global leaders and clients, these businesses enhance local efforts committed to making the power of innovation and entrepreneurship more accessible to those that can benefit from them the most. This work is defined by helping people, organizations, and communities they support better understand, build capability, and deliver value using a comprehensive systems approach in a resource savvy way. Kevin’s greatest learning and experience with innovation was forged while working at one of the world’s largest aerospace companies as an enterprise leader of multiple innovation teams. In this role, Kevin conceived, developed, and scaled a small pilot program into a company-wide network of connected employees and businesses that spanned the globe. He also united a coalition of diverse innovation efforts into a single enterprise network to augment traditional innovation mechanisms within the company. His perspectives on value creation were further enhanced when Kevin spent two years in the corporate venturing group, where he was responsible for early stage pipeline development and acceleration. In his nearly 20 years of professional service Kevin has supported amazing technologies that push the limits of possibility while accumulating a diverse set of experiences in program management, engineering, supplier management, process improvement (certificates in both six sigma and lean), supplier-quality, human factors, and auditing. Kevin received his engineering degrees (BS/MS) from the Industrial and Systems Engineering department at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a business degree (MBA in Entrepreneurship) as well as a certificate in Socially, Environmentally, and Ethically Responsible (SEER) Business Strategy from Pepperdine University. Kevin lives in Southern California with his wife, three kids, and dog Petey.
About 4th Sector Innovations: 4th Sector Innovations help organizations and communities build innovation and entrepreneurial capability so they can inspire and deliver for the people that are counting on them the most.
For more information visit: https://4thsi.com
First Quarter Innovators
About Stacy: Stacy Cumberbatch is the Founder and Managing Director of Blended Impact, a venture development firm and innovation lab focused on public-private partnerships to power the future of how we invest, earn, and live. In 2019-2020 she served as a FUSE Executive Fellow and Executive in Residence, leading the Opportunity Zone strategic plan and ecosystem development for the County of Riverside, California in partnership with the Riverside County Office of Economic Development. Previously, she served as a Principal at a $33M seed-stage fund and accelerator program. She joined in the launch of the Los Angeles office and led its accelerator program, while also operating as an integral member of the investment committee for seed-stage companies. She has over 12 years of corporate and consumer real estate finance experience, and has led teams focused on investor due diligence, loan origination and underwriting at Fortune 1000 financial institutions including First Republic Bank, Colony Capital, and Bank of America. She has underwritten over $1.7B in real estate loan transactions and an additional $4.5M in venture investment experience. Stacy holds a Masters of Science from the University of Southern California in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Georgia in Finance.
About Blended Impact: Blended Impact is the umbrella platform for integrated impact vehicles focused on the future of how we invest, live, and earn. We work at the intersection of venture capital and economic development building investment pipelines from the ground up via public-private partnerships thru our nonprofit and private entities. We specialize in working with partners to create blended capital stacks consisting of equity, debt, public funding, and philanthropic capital to create new opportunities for economic and social development in minority and emerging communities. We are unique in that we operate as a technical assistance provider, investor, and thought partner alongside the most forward-thinking entrepreneurs, fund managers, foundations, and public officials to advance access to capital in fintech, proptech, emerging consumer businesses and the built environment.
For more information visit: https://www.blendedimpact.com/team
About Joe: Joe Wallace is CEO and Chief Innovation Officer of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP) that operates the Palm Springs Innovation Hub where he also serves as the founding Managing Director. Wallace entered the world of mentoring entrepreneurs and businesses serving as the founding President and CEO of the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville and Innovation Pointe where entrepreneurship was the prime focus. Joe’s work has been honored with the CSU San Bernardino’s Spirit of the Entrepreneur Award, the R & D Top 100 Award, the Clean Air Award, and the Indiana University Growth 100 Award along with many others. Over his career Joe has been recognized as a creative leader who is not afraid to live his life outside the box. Wallace graduated from Stanford University with an MS in Mechanical Engineering and has earned technical certifications from both Harvard and MIT. With over 10 start-up businesses and experience mentoring over 100 others, Joe enjoys a reputation of a person with a depth of technical knowledge who applies common sense solutions that work to business and life.
About CVEP iHUB: The Palm Springs Innovation Hub (iHub), managed by the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, is a state-designed business incubator funded by the city of Palm Springs and Wells Fargo. The iHub focuses on early-stage business in the fields of renewable energy, health and medicine, and digital technology. The Palm Springs iHub also offers the Palm Springs Accelerator Campus – designed to mitigate start-up risks and increase the probability of business prospering and growing into the future.
For more information visit: https://cvep.com/palm-springs-ihub-and-accelerator-campus/
Randall Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Social Impact
About Kristan: Kristan is the LaFetra Endowed Professor of Teaching and Learning and Associate Provost of Graduate Programs and Regional and Online Campuses at the University of La Verne. She is a former Associate Dean in the LaFetra College of Education at the University of La Verne and served as the Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives and Evaluation and Professor of Clinical Education in the USC Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on college access and financial aid for low income students and students of color. Kristan’s specialties include: academic leadership, financial aid, college access, and qualitative research. Her research has appeared in various academic and practitioner journals; she has presented her work nationally and internationally, including to the United States and Canadian governments. She is a former American Council on Education Fellow and participated in the Hispañas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) Leadership Institute. Over the last ten years, she has been part of research teams that have resulted in more $10 million in external funding to support research and practice. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees at the University of Southern California.
About Kerop: Kerop Janoyan is the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of La Verne. Prior to that, he served as the dean of the Graduate School and was a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University, where he also served as interim dean of the Lewis School of Health Sciences and director of distance learning. Janoyan is a seasoned administrator and an accomplished educator and researcher with experience in leading complex and expansive portfolios. He has a record of building trust through responsive communications along with a consultative and inclusive process. His research and development expertise covers a broad range of related and interdisciplinary topics with a strong focus on aspects of intelligent and sustainable infrastructure and clean and renewable energy systems. He has an extensive history of participation in academic and joint industrial projects. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 technical papers and reports and his research and development efforts have garnered over $5 million in external funding. He received his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
About the Randall Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Social Impact: The mission of The Randall Lewis Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Social Impact is to inspire leaders to achieve success by teaching an entrepreneurial mindset. We improve opportunities and outcomes for partners at local, regional, national, and international levels. We enable creators to alter the disparities that affect historically marginalized groups and teach students to value and respect the cultural context of the communities in which they operate. Through innovative thinking and deal-making, the center strives to build a better world for future generations. We are the largest entrepreneurship center in Southern California, and nine regional University of La Verne campuses connect through the Randall Lewis Center for
For more information visit: https://laverne.edu/entrepreneurship/
About Reggie: Reggie Webb was born in South Bend, Indiana in 1948. During his early years he lived in Fort Hood, Texas and Madison, Arkansas. In 1959 he moved with his grandmother to the south central area of Los Angeles where he grew up attending public schools. He has served in many elected franchisee leadership positions, including Chairman, National Black McDonald’s Operator Association; Chairman, National Leadership Council (representing all McDonald’s franchises in the U.S.); Founding Chairman, Global Operator Leadership Council (representing McDonald’s franchisees worldwide). Reggie has served on many Boards of Directors over his career including the Los Angeles Urban League, Pomona Valley Hospital, and the Los Angeles County Fair Association.
About Kyle: Kyle is the radical expression of community through service. He serves as Chief Executive Officer of both Webb Investments and CEEM (the Cooperative Economic Empowerment Movement). Everything he and the Webb family do is to create parity – an environment and expectation where everyone has the same opportunity for success. Kyle graduated from Morehouse College, with a degree in Business Administration-Finance, and earned his Masters in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. Kyle serves on non-profit boards including: Bright Prospect, a college access organization that sees young people to and through college, the CEEM IE Coalition for Cultural Change (CC4CC), and USC’s Black Alumni Association. Kyle is the youngest of Reggie and Rene Webb’s three children, and married with his amazing wife, Amy.
About CEEM: In 2012, CEEM founder and CEO Reggie Webb nearly died. He was rushed to the hospital just in time to receive life-saving interventions to stabilize his condition. As he spent weeks in recovery, one word kept echoing in his mind: legacy As a former executive with the McDonald’s Corporation, Webb helped people from underrepresented communities become franchisees with one of the world’s most iconic brands. However, he wanted to do more to help African-Americans achieve financial independence. Through his research, Webb learned about the Mondragon Cooperative, a worker-owner co-op in the Basque region of Spain that grew from a handful of initial participants into a massive federation of more than 260 businesses and cooperatives, 80,000 workers, and more than €12 billion in revenue. After learning how the Mondragon Cooperative helped transform its town, Webb wanted to replicate a similar model in Black communities in America. A chance meeting with Ratibu Jacocks, a community organizer in Rialto, Calif., helped Webb formalize his idea for an economic cooperative. After visiting a Westside Action Group meeting to discuss entrepreneurship in the Black community, Webb attended a retreat where he outlined the vision for CEEM. In 2016, CEEM was officially born. At first, Webb brought in his children — who help run Webb Family Enterprises — then he extended the offer to business and community leaders in his local area. Today, CEEM is a legally formed cooperative in the state of California and brings community members together to keep more of the business revenue generated by African-Americans consumers in the Inland Empire in the hands of the Black community.
For more information visit: https://www.ceem.coop