Greater Hartford is filled with stories about innovative and accomplished women in business. The MetroHartford Alliance will continue our “Women’s History Month” series throughout the year, featuring women in our region who are successful company leaders and team players.
Our latest story is about Connecticut native Emily Reisner, the new Impact Strategist at reSET, who moved from California back to Connecticut last summer. She spoke with Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about her position at reSET and what she sees for the future of the organization—and Connecticut.
NAN PRICE: What brought you back to Connecticut—was it this role specifically?
EMILY REISNER: I’ve spent a decade in the nonprofit world working in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. It was time to come back and I was ready for my next challenge.
When I moved back to Connecticut last summer, I was consulting nonprofits, which made me feel more connected to the place where I grew up. I started looking into jobs in the state and I was liking the people I was meeting in the business world here. However, I was not entirely convinced I was staying in Connecticut until I found reSET.
NAN: How did you become aware of reSET?
EMILY: I hadn’t heard of reSET before my job search. I was blown away by the co-working space, because I had grown up here and nothing came close to that back then.
I walked in and I just felt like I belonged here. It feels like it has all the pieces any space in a big city might have in terms of connections with very experienced specialists in different industries. One of the reasons I left Connecticut is because I felt unsupported as a young college graduate, and reSET is doing a lot of programming for young people that is very inspiring.
reSET felt like the innovation I was looking for. I wanted to work somewhere with a startup culture that’s flexible about employees’ needs and ways of creating and working together as a team.
I met reSET Managing Director Sarah Bodley and felt like she was a very like-minded individual. Sarah told me about everyone working together in the space generating interesting ideas and the opportunity to meet these change-makers in Hartford and co-create a movement with all these innovative new founders. I was sold!
NAN: Tell us about your role as Impact Strategist.
EMILY: The job title was created for me. The original position I applied to was development-based. Through conversations with Sarah, it felt like there was more I could be doing around general impact of the program. I was communicative with Sara that my passion is around strategic decision making and how we could create more quality outcomes with the work we’re doing.
The word “strategist” kept coming up in our discussion, because I felt that in my prior positions, I was always very strategically making a difference in each program. I was making a change, whether it was streamlining programs, creating key partnerships, or rethinking the organizational culture.
And I do feel like a strategist. I want to go into an organization and understand all the moving pieces so I can optimize the flow of resources into the organization and the flow of impactful services into the community.
I also want to effectively communicate what we’re doing here in a way that fuels the “business for good” movement at a larger scale. Because reSET is part of a paradigm shift that’s bigger than us. There’s a new world of business with a mission. It used to be that profit was the bottom line, but now stakeholders, especially customers, are demanding that businesses consider their environmental and social footprint. It’s exciting to be part of Connecticut’s journey in that shift.
NAN: What you see for the future of reSET and what you hope to accomplish?
EMILY: The two questions that drive my work are “How do we leverage our community to support more entrepreneurs just starting out?” and “How do we better communicate our impact to the community?”
I will be exploring ways to tap into more resources. Hartford is a hub of insurance, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing, so I think we have a huge potential to create more corporate partnerships. Part of our work is to show that diversifying the portfolio of businesses really helps Hartford and the state. It helps bring young people here—and keep them here to help move the state in a vibrant direction. More businesses also mean more jobs and greater economic vitality for our city.
In addition, diversifying the business sector with mission-driven business keeps Hartford and the state relevant in a larger national movement that is happening toward a more environmentally friendly and socially progressive world. reSET has been a champion for greater support of social entrepreneurs so they can stay in Connecticut and thrive, rather than taking their great ideas to Boston or NYC. If we can be an example to the country of how this kind of business makes an economic impact while addressing other issues, from compost to solar power, Hartford has the potential to make more of a name for itself at a national level.
As a young person myself, I was relieved to find a place like reSET because it meant I could stay in Connecticut where I grew up, be near my family, and still feel challenged and invigorated to make a positive change. I’m in a place where I feel I can make a real impact and be part of a national dialogue. I definitely want to be part of that conversation.