Written by The Business Journal Staff
Founder & executive director
Education: I attended Fresno State, but found most of my education stemmed from books, TedTalks and mentors.
Family: My fiancé Josh and our yorkie Benji
WHAT I DO: Founder & executive director of Common Space, Founder of MY LGBT PLUS
What has prompted Common Space to move into the Fulton District?
Common Space started in a 1,300 square foot prototype model on Tulare Street in Downtown Fresno and found a great support system within the local community. Starting and staying in Downtown Fresno through the revitalization efforts was always our goal. We thank our broker Veronica Stumpf and current building owner Mario Gutierrez for re-igniting the spark of what Fulton District can, and will, be. Our goal is to bring life back onto Fulton Street with special programs/events and a future coffee shop that the community can utilize.
What are some of the new organizations in incubation that you’re the most excited about? What are some of the more notable nonprofits to come out of Common Space?
We currently have two organizations that are incubating in Common Space in our first year and a half of operations: (1) RAWW – Real Authentic Women Wellness and (2) Wellness Central Valley. As a newer nonprofit that supports the growth of other nonprofits, it’s exciting to see diverse young people stepping up to live passions they’ve had that will ultimately benefit others.
Currently, over 14 nonprofit organizations call Common Space their home. Uniquely, we have both statewide chapters and locally established organizations here with us. To name a few: Californians for Justice, MY LGBT PLUS, Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) Network. As with business incubators, larger nonprofit organizations use our location as a test site for expansion of services, as well as supporting the work of startups through uniquely crafted persona and professional development.
How do you measure the success of an organization in Common Space?
Success for us is measured by the effects the work has on an audience. For Common Space, we do not measure the number of people nor the amount of money as success. We want to see that nonprofits are creating an experience with the community, accessible for all people to utilize services and tell the story of the people of Fresno.
How did you come up with the idea of a coworking space for nonprofits?
I first started in the nonprofit sector when I was 15. An amazing opportunity to learn how to fundraise to build a school in rural Cambodia, my mother’s home county, showed me how the sector works and doesn’t work. The idea of a co-working space for nonprofits made local leaders have to work together. We’ve seen that if one individual is sitting at a table, the other on our couch, eventually they will have to talk with one another and that’s how collaboration begins. Many times the nonprofit sector has competition to gain supporters. In turn, sometimes nonprofits do not work well together. This space makes us have to work together.
What do you think it is about coworking spaces that are making them so popular?
Coworking spaces are popular because productivity stems from being around other like-minded people. Nowadays, nonprofits and businesses are more virtual-based, where we work from home or coffee shops. Coworking spaces like ours bring people together to build opportunities to collaborate and create incredible possibilities.
What are your roots in the Central Valley?
I grew up in the San Jose/Bay Area. It was in 2008 that I moved to Fresno with my family. When people ask me where I’m from, I always say Fresno. Why? Because Fresno has given me the opportunity to create roots with an amazing community. Since 2008, I’ve lived in both the Fresno County and Tulare County area, and worked all over our region from Merced down to Bakersfield.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to be in the kitchen! In my past career, I had the opportunity to be a partner in a bakery/bistro business that sparked my love for cooking and baking. Many friends will tell you I can throw an amazing dinner party, and fantastic brunch!
What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?
No matter what your title or roll is, never forget that we are all humans and there is no job too small or too big to do. This is a philosophy we have at Common Space. As an executive director, you’ll see me doing everything from creating marketing packets to cleaning toilets. There is nothing I, as a leader, would not ask our team to be involved with that I have not done before.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?
My very first job was working at the Holiday Inn Santa Clara as an executive assistant. I was 14, had to get a workers permit from my school, and helped organize a brand transition from a global franchise to a local boutique hotel. The hospitality field is where I’ve dabbled many times throughout my career and there is where I learned to take care of a customer. Hospitality and customer service are traits that stem in all sectors of work because when we focus on building a relationship, then begins the opportunity of partnership.