Roy Soards, Enterprise Strategist
For over two decades, Roy Soards has been meshing market-based business practices with the missions of social change organizations, helping to alleviate poverty and create employment opportunities for the disadvantaged. His purpose and passion is creating new revenue sources via the sale and delivery of products and services, and in the process creating job opportunities for individuals left out of our economic mainstream.
Working for organizations that were completely dependent on always shifting public funding caused him to start seeking ways for organizations to become more economically self-sufficient while remaining true to mission.
In 1989, Roy seized an opportunity to run a small sheltered workshop in Portland with the mission of employing people with disabilities. As Chief Operating Officer, and later Chief Executive Officer, of St. Vincent DePaul Rehabilitation Services, he led that organization in one of the earliest forays into Social Enterprise. Over the course of 12 years, his team successfully grew the organization from $1.5 million in revenue, with half a million coming from sales of products and services, to $20 million in revenue with $19 million coming from sales of products and services. Employment of individuals with disabilities grew from 100 to 800 over the same time frame.
Roy was hired by Cascadia Behavior Healthcare to replicate that success from scratch and within four years he had established Wellspring Services, employing more than 200 individuals across three different business entities generating $4 million in revenue.
Roy has also worked in senior government positions and served as regional director for Bethesda Lutheran Communities. He was a founding board member of the Social Enterprise Alliance and also served on the board of Affirmative Business Alliance of North America, now Workability International. He created and taught the first course on Social Enterprise at the Portland State University School of Business and has spoken and taught seminars on the topic at conferences throughout the U.S.
Social Enterprise Solutions is the culmination of a career in which he created, funded, launched and nurtured 17 different Social Enterprises. He aims to apply that knowledge and experience to assist more non-profits in creating sustainable, self-reliant funding sources.
John Miller, Associate
For nearly 20 years John has worked in the non-profit trenches, leading organizations that deployed a variety of successful social enterprises. Prior to that, John worked in the for-profit sector, leading startup and established companies. In each organization John built his knowledge of management, leadership and the cultivation of socia
l enterprises to create thriving organizations.
After leaving the University of Oregon in the mid1980s John opened the first “commercial only” Kinko’s in the nation (i.e.not located next to a college campus with a captive market), located in Portland’s Lloyd district. I grew that store from a four-person shop to a 35 person “mega store,” boasting some of the top sales in the nation. It was at Kinko’s that John was bit by the “entrepreneurial bug.” After leaving Kinko’s John opened three small business ventures with mixed success.
Wanting to have a more positive social impact from his work, John joined DePaul Industries in 1997, where he created and operated business lines that employed people with disabilities. It was at DePaul that Roy Soards, Social Enterprise Solutions founder, mentored John in the intricate workings of social enterprise, and how to manage and grow both the mission and fiscal health of a non-profit. While at DePaul John managed four divisions of the organization, including staffing services, security services and DePaul’s training and workforce development programs, all which operated under an earned revenue “fee for service” model.
After leaving DePaul, John took the helm as Executive Director at HOST Development, a non-profit focused on creating first time home buyer opportunities for low and moderate income families Portland. They fulfilled their mission by building and selling homes. During his tenure HOST built and sold 300 affordable homes with little to no government support, and was recognized nationally as a leader in building a self-sustaining non-profit business model.
John is a passionate advocate of social enterprise and is excited to share his experience, knowledge and lessons learned as an associate consultant on the Social Enterprise Solutions team.