JayJay Rico, 35, director of social enterprise for Becoming Independent in Santa Rosa, is one of North Bay Business Journal's Forty Under 40 notable young professionals for 2019.
How do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty Under 40 professional?: I play an active leadership role within the organizations that I am involved with and leverage my involvement to foster partnerships that benefit our community.
Years with company: 6.5
Length of time in current position: 2 years
Number who report to you: 15
Greatest professional accomplishment: Increased BI’s Social Enterprise revenue by 10 fold in the last 2 years.
Greatest professional challenge: Building social enterprises that are community based and financially sustainable, while simultaneously allowing for vocational training and employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.
Best advice received: Everything we do has a multiplying effect -- on individuals, groups, organizations, and the world. We must maintain awareness on many levels, and act in accordance, to make a real difference in this fragile yet wonderfully resilient world.
Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months
Opening the BI Buzz Cafe, which provides job training and employment for people with disabilities.
What steps is your company taking to sustain your organization and morale in the current economy?
As a nonprofit, garnering the resources to provide wages that compete with for profits has always been challenging. Recruiting and retaining talent in the current economy, with a historically low unemployment rate, remains one of the company’s primary challenges.
In order to mitigate this situation, we take a proactive stance when it comes to attracting talented staff by offering a robust set of benefits and professional development opportunities. We also pay close attention to the outward and inward expression of our culture. Nonprofit organizations are particularly susceptible to operating from a scarcity mindset as a result of having limited resources, which may be real or imagined.
At BI, we challenge that notion through creativity and innovation. We have also benefited from what appears to be a cultural shift among young people entering the workforce. This most recent generation appears to place a high level of importance on contributing to the health and vitality of their community. Over the past several years, we have seen an influx of new hires who are motivated by the opportunity to spend their days making a tangible, positive impact on the lives of others.
Drawn in by Becoming Independent’s strong and compelling organizational culture, innovative mindset, and opportunities for professional development, we are managing to retain this new generation of employees at a higher rate.
Next professional goal: I would like to be the chief of operations or executive director at a nonprofit that serves our community in a meaningful way.
Education: I am currently a graduate student in the master's degree in organization development program at Sonoma State University. I will be graduating in May.
Hometown: Rohnert Park
Community/nonprofit activities: I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to engage in a variety of community activities with both for profit and nonprofit organizations throughout our community. Critical to Becoming Independent’s (BI) ability to flourish over the past 52 years are partnerships that continue to be created with organizations throughout our community.
Forty Under 40 winner
Director of Social Enterprise
1425 Corporate Center Pkwy., Santa Rosa 95407