One of the borough’s most venerable not-for-profit organizations that helps small businesses and manages affordable housing, among other endeavors, has a new leader.
The baton of leadership has been passed at SoBRO to Steven Brown, who was named the new president and CEO of the 45-year-old organization based in the Hub. He replaces Phil Morrow, who left in March.
Until recently Brown, who has an extensive experience in non-profits, was the interim president and CEO at SoBRO.
Jean Smith, SoBRO’s chairwoman, said that Brown is well prepared to lead the organization, which is doing “great work for the residents and small business in the Bronx community.”
“As the organization celebrates its 45th anniversary and prepares for the next 45 years, we believe Steven Brown has the experience, business acumen and vision to build upon our foundation to bring SoBRO to the next level,” said Smith, adding “His compassion, authenticity and collaborative nature make him a perfect fit for SoBRO as we thrive to achieve common goals alongside nonprofit, government and corporate sector partners.”
Brown has worked at a plethora of non-profits, including: Building Skills NY, which helps people in low-income situations obtain construction jobs; the Jackie Robinson Foundation that provides college scholarships; Greyston Foundation, a large non-profit that provides social services and housing in Yonkers and New York City Housing Partnership.
Brown believes that his decade-long experience at Greyston prepared him well for his new role because that organization provides a similar array of services as SoBRO and has a similar and complex financial structure like SoBRO’s, he said.
The focus of SoBRO, which originally was business development and retention and job creation in the south Bronx in the 1970s, has several top priorities which he plans to address going forward, said Brown.
For the past 10 to 15 years, the organization has been very focused on affordable housing, as well as youth employment and programing.
“We have focused a lot on housing, and I think we will continue to, but we will also focus on job retention, commercial and industrial development and (with our partners) on how to prepare Bronx residents for 21st century jobs.”
SoBRO’s commitment to fostering small and minority owned business development and retention will not waver, nor will a commitment to doing everything possible to make sure that higher paying jobs that will hopefully be coming to the borough are filled by local people, he said.
The new president and CEO said that for many years, investment in the borough was publicly driven.
The new wave of private sector investment in in recent years now means that there are new opportunities and new challenges, he said.
“We have to be careful that the people living here benefit from the incoming investment,” he said. “That is a challenge that all non-profits and the public sector have to figure out how to address.”
Helping small and minority-owned businesses will include helping them gain and retain access to capital, as well as making sure they can obtain insurance and meet other benchmarks that help them be able to compete for federal, state and city contracts, said Brown.