How do social change-makers work together to make greater impact? In this episode of Add Passion & Stir, host Debbie Shore talks with KaBOOM! CEO James Siegal and DC Chef Mike Friedman (Red Hen, All-Purpose) about focusing on teamwork and community to help those in need. Siegal speaks of the marginalization of many neighborhood institutions and how successful nonprofits must bring these entities together. “You can’t do it alone… It takes everyone rowing in the same direction to make change happen,” he says. Friedman sees parallels to running successful restaurants. “I fell into cooking because I love the team mentality. Restaurants are a team sport… I was enamored with the idea of being a part of something that was bigger than me,” he recalls.
KaBOOM! leverages corporate funding to strengthen communities, building more than 3000 safe playspaces across the country for kids living in disadvantaged communities. Each playground build day brings together community partners and hundreds of local volunteers for a moving community experience. “If you want to get to a place where kids are better off, you need strong communities and strong communities are cohesive, safe, and they have a sense of pride,” says Siegal. For Friedman, giving back is part of the role of being a chef, an active member of his neighborhood, and a successful business owner. “My passions lie with children’s needs,” he says, and demonstrates this by supporting organizations like Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and March of Dimes.
Listen to this conversation about how teamwork can build strong communities and create lasting impact.
Resources and Mentions:
· No Kid Hungry (nokidhungry.org): Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.
· Root Cause Coalition: (rootcausecoalition.org) The Root Cause Coalition is a national, member-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of health disparities by focusing on hunger and other social determinants leading to nationwide epidemic of preventable chronic health conditions.
· James Siegal is the CEO of KaBOOM!, the national non-profit that seeks to give children the childhood they deserve filled with balanced and active play, so they can thrive. Prior to KaBOOM!, James served as Chief of Staff for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that supports citizen engagement to address community challenges through AmeriCorps, the Social Innovation Fund and other programs. James has broad experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors, including serving as Vice President of Nonprofit Programs and Practice at Independent Sector. He also served as Registration Section Chief and Assistant Attorney General at the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau and associate at the global law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. James and his wife enjoy spending time on the playground with their three young girls.
· KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to giving all kids– especially those living in poverty– the childhood they deserve through great, safe places to play. They believe that when kids play, we all win. The well-being of our communities starts with the well-being of our kids. Kids who live in low-income communities face many structural obstacles to play, such as a lack of safe play spaces or any place to play at all. One in five kids is living in poverty and play is too hard to come by as their families struggle to make ends meet. They want to make it as easy as possible for all kids to learn, explore, grow and just be kids. Play is the business of childhood and is essential to physical, cognitive, creative, social and emotional development. It’s how kids build strong muscles and healthy bodies; it’s how they learn problem-solving, conflict resolution and creativity; it’s how they make friends and build strong bonds with adults. Working across the country, KaBOOM! brings together people from diverse backgrounds– from cities and city leaders to corporations and non-profits– to create PLAYces for all kids. The communities they serve feel more engaged, connected and united by the common cause of ensuring our kids can thrive–every day; everywhere.
· Mike Friedman’s professional cooking career began as a prep cook with Mon Ami Gabi. Friedman spent three years with Rich Melman’s Lettuce Entertain You group, rising to sous chef in just eight months before enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduating at the top of his CIA class, Friedman began working for Jose Andres at Zaytinya. After two years, he left his mentor to travel the world. Eating through Italy, Greece, Turkey and Northern Africa, Friedman picked up the interesting and exciting nuances of each country. Back in the US, Friedman spent time staging in some influential kitchens, including San Francisco’s Incanto, Los Angeles’ Lucques, Philadelphia’s Vetri and New York’s Scarpetta. Friedman returned to D.C. as Executive Sous Chef of Proof, and under the tutelage of Executive Chef Haidar Karoum, he learned to hone his craft and simplify his style to let seasonal ingredients shine. Friedman opened up The Red Hen in 2014 and All-Purpose Pizzeria in 2016. In 2017, Friedman was recognized as a James Beard Award semifinalist.
· Red Hen is an Italian-influenced American restaurant locate in the historic Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, DC. Proprietors and long-time friends Michael Friedman and Michael O’Malley have introduced a youthful sophistication to the rapidly evolving dining scene in one of the most eclectic neighborhoods in the nation’s capital. All-Purpose serves up seasonally inspired pies, and hot & cold antipasti, just across the street from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.