Women At The Helm 2013

Today, business owners incorporate their beliefs in fairness and equality into their work. Nonprofit directors combine their passion for social justice with managerial prowess. Meet the new wave of out leaders who talk the talk and walk the walk.

CEO, Boston Community Capital; President, Boston Venture Fund, Aura Mortgage Advisors and NSP Residential

If you’ve been watching the news, you’ll likely recognize Elyse Cherry, the visionary finance wizard and CEO behind Boston Community Capital. Under Cherry’s leadership, the BCC—a financial group that finds effective, real world solutions for challenges faced by low-income communities in Massachusetts—has risen to a new level of unprecedented growth. They’ve increased assets under management by 3500% and invested more than $900 million in low-income communities through programs that support housing, childcare and job creation in contemporary, sustainable fields. Even better, BCC’s groundbreaking Stabilizing Urban Neighborhoods (SUN) Initiative is gaining nationwide attention. Its foreclosure-avoidance program has helped over 450 Massachusetts homeowners stay in their homes, and Cherry recently appeared on PBS NewsHour, CBS Evening News, NPR’s All Things Considered and All in With Chris Hayes on MSNBC to discuss the program’s success. As a nationally recognized leader in affordable housing, community development and social entrepreneurship, Cherry is looking to expand, to prove the SUN program a scalable, national solution. “I grew up in a working class community and I heard a consistent message from my teachers—that the true measure of a successful life is not what you’ve gained but what you’ve contributed,” Cherry says. She advises other business and nonprofit leaders to stay at the heart of the action: “Position yourself at the intersection, in the traffic of ideas and people, where multiple streams cross. It’s the most interesting place to stand and it’s where the best ideas come from.”