Before she graduated with her MBA from Dominican, Maureen Sedonaen was a longtime supporter of Goodwill. She shopped there in her youth and later donated clothing and other items to Goodwill for more than 20 years.
“It was the place I went,” she says. “I had no idea that Goodwill utilized its retail to create jobs. That was fascinating.”
So is this: Maureen is not only a loyal patron of Goodwill. She is now in charge of it.
In July, Maureen became the Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. She leads a staff of about 700 Goodwill employees in enterprise, including 425 full-timers. (She previously served as Regional Vice President for Revolution Foods, a growing $40 million business committed to providing healthy and affordable meals to schools K–12 nationwide.)
Last year, Goodwill helped more than 600 local people get jobs, readied about 7,000 to join the workforce and hosted more than 34,000 visitors to its career center. Creating jobs to fight poverty, Goodwill was established almost a decade ago to help individuals facing significant barriers to employment to become employable by providing transitional work, skill training and long-term job placement.
“The opportunity here for me is take this 99-year-old nonprofit that is very much a hybrid between mission oriented services and a business that has to meet a bottom line and grow it and its impact and help lead its next decade forward,” Maureen says from her San Francisco office. “I’m just delighted to be here. I feel challenged, blessed, humbled and excited every day.”
She thanks Dominican for helping her along the way. Maureen graduated with her MBA in Strategic Leadership in 2008.
“I’ve learned a lot of skills I’d really like to take to the next level at Goodwill and I wouldn’t have done that without Dominican’s MBA program,” says Maureen, who returned to campus this summer to teach a class—“Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship”—in Dominican’s Green MBA program.
Maureen, a mother of three, enrolled at Dominican in 2006 when her son was still in high school in Marin. She wanted to climb the ladder to another level of leadership. After attending Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management, she was motivated to enroll in Dominican’s MBA program. The time and place were perfect to pursue her master’s.
“I always considered myself a lifelong learner, whether it was the school of hard knocks or academia,” says Maureen, a New Jersey native who was the 10th child in a family of 12 siblings. “I needed something that was going to fit the demands of a very demanding job, but also still challenge me with rigor. I really liked Dominican’s focus on leadership. That was a huge draw for me.”
At Dominican, Maureen connected with her cohorts and they participated in two international trips—to Spain/Portugal and Japan—during her two years in the program. She was inspired by her professors and developed enduring relationships with her classmates.
“For this small college of Catholic heritage in this sleepy little part of San Rafael, there is this whole range and spectrum of people,” she says. “There’s this cosmopolitan, diverse campus with very divergent thoughts and thinking and people find a way to come together. That’s what makes it special.”
Special leaders seek special jobs, but Maureen, equipped with her MBA, wasn’t looking to become CEO of Goodwill. She was happy at Revolution Foods, yet when friends notified her of the Goodwill leadership position and encouraged her to pursue it, Maureen thought it was a compelling opportunity.
“My entire career and trajectory have been about seeing the possibility in people and places and trying to create things to have an impact,” Maureen says. “The biggest thing I want to do is challenge the enterprise to find business opportunities that create jobs in all three communities that have high impact on people, planet and profits.”