41: Jen Herman of Earth, Wind, and Fuego

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About Jen Herman, MSW, COO & Co-founder

Jen Herman Earth Wind & Fuego Co-founder

Jen previously worked as the Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator in Dutchess County before co-founding Earth, Wind & Fuego in 2017. She received a Masters in Social Work at Adelphi University. Jen has worked and volunteered for human service agencies throughout Dutchess, Orange and Ulster counties and received the Asset Builder/Outstanding Youth Worker Award in 2015 from the Orange County Executive’s Youth Bureau Awards. She served as a commission member of the Dutchess County Human Rights Commission and volunteers with Poughkeepsie O+ and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County. As a poet and spoken word artist, Jen uses her writing and performance as a platform to shed light on systemic oppression and privilege, calling for unity among all people. She won the first ever Milkweed Poetry Slam in Sugar Loaf, NY, for her piece “Pulse” on the Orlando nightclub massacre.

About Earth, Wind & Fuego

Earth, Wind & Fuego is a social enterprise radicalizing hiring, training and workplace culture to create sustainable solutions to poverty through inclusive training and employment opportunities. As a social enterprise, we seek, build and sustain opportunities. We envision a community where everyone is able to live out their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and share their #POUGHTENTIAL with the world.

Every purchase from Earth, Wind & Fuego supports our mission to train and hire community members who face physical, mental & societal barriers to employment.

Website https://earthwindfuego.com/

Email earthwindfuego@gmail.com

Our Conversation

Jen and I met through the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory (a previous guest on the podcast), which is where Earth, Wind & Fuego is presently housed. PUF is a multi-purpose space that is a repurposed factory in Poughkeepsie. The space has a rentable commercial kitchen which is now home to Jen’s restaurant. As part of my inclination toward community revitalization, as opposed to the negative connotation of gentrification, I’m interested in finding ways we can live by the adage “a rising tide raises all boats”. So, with that in mind, I’m always interested when I hear of alternative business models that can make a social change and actually help people improve their lives. Enter, Earth Wind and Fuego – a restaurant that has a highly effective work training program that graduates employable people in food service.

We discussed:

  • How Jen went from being a social worker to a restaurant owner
  • Jen’s interest in social justice and progress
  • Jen’s personal health struggles and how she overcame them
  • Earth, Wind & Fuego… how and why it began, how it’s grown and where they are going
  • How to build work training programs to encourage skills development and turn those who have otherwise faced challenges in finding work into motivated and qualified employees
  • And more.

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44 episodes