Anxiety about the changing world of work is rampant. In the retail sector – employer of 16 million workers – new technologies and changing business norms are profoundly impacting jobs and workers, causing both displacement and new opportunity. This event explored the future of work for frontline workers through a look at lessons learned in today’s rapidly changing retail sector.
Bringing together experts in the retail industry, workforce and economic development, and philanthropy, this event explored what the evolving retail landscape can tell us about the future of job quality and economic mobility for workers across sectors. It addressed the experience of workers and the role that both workforce development and economic development leaders can play in supporting economic mobility.
The event included a panel of philanthropy leaders – including Gayatri Agnew from the Walmart Foundation, Andre Oliver from the Irvine Foundation, and Jose Gordon from the eBay Foundation – sharing their perspectives on opportunities in the retail sector. Leaders of two innovative organizations, Pacific Community Ventures and San Diego Workforce Partnership, also shared recent work to improve worker livelihood. They were joined by local small business owner Jen Musty, who explained how she engaged with PCV to strengthen workforce practices. A reception with light refreshments catered by small local businesses followed panel discussions.
Senior Director, Walmart Giving
Gayatri Agnew is a leader in corporate and social impact strategy focused on human capital trends and future of work. Gayatri worked throughout her winding path to and through both her undergraduate degree and her MBA. She has dedicated herself to ensuring more people have access to meaningful work and to effective ways to learn and grow.
Gayatri serves on the leadership team for Walmart’s Global Responsibility division where she leads strategy and partnerships on economic mobility, specifically human capital, shared value, partnerships and philanthropy. Her team focuses on key issues such as changing employer practices, better serving the learning and development needs of frontline workers, and scaling work-based learning and skills-based hiring. Gayatri’s personal mission is for more people to be able find purpose and to learn through work and that this luxury of learning is equality accessible for all.
Raised by a strong a resilient single mom, Gayatri is a lifelong advocate for women both in the civic and social sphere. She is a former candidate for the Arkansas State House and was among the wave of working moms who ran for office in 2018. She’s passionate about ensuring all voices are heard in centers of power including in government and in business.
Prior to joining Walmart Gayatri lived and worked in California and Washington. She worked on the campaign and in the administration of former Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire. She served as Director of the Career Center at Seattle University and ran the Seattle-King County City Year (AmeriCorps) site. She lived and worked in India researching skills development pathways and employment technology and training tools.
Gayatri and her husband, Ryan live in Bentonville, Arkansas with their two young children, Rohan and Kamala.
President, eBay Foundation and Chief of Staff, Communications, eBay
Jose Gordon is President of the eBay Foundation, leading the company’s philanthropy in support of inclusive entrepreneurship. In addition, he serves as Chief of Staff for Communications, overseeing strategy and operations globally.
Jose joined eBay in 2017 from the Golden State Warriors Community Foundation in Oakland, where as Executive Director he built and led the NBA’s leading team foundation, targeting educational equity and youth development. Previously, Jose served as Senior Director of Development Communications for the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health in Palo Alto.
Jose graduated from Stanford University with degrees in Economics and American Studies and received the school’s James W. Lyons Award for Service, the Arthur Gray American Studies Scholar Award, and a Stanford in Government Fellowship.
Committed to furthering philanthropy and mentorship, Jose serves as an advisor to multiple organizations, including the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Northern California Grantmakers, Playworks, and Learn Fresh. He also coaches youth basketball and soccer, and chaperones as many of his daughter’s field trips as possible.
Senior Program Officer, Irvine Foundation
Andre Oliver was appointed senior program officer at the James Irvine Foundation in 2014. He played an instrumental role in developing – and now manages – the Foundation’s Fair Work initiative, which aims to expand the voice and influence of low-wage workers on the issues that affect their lives and livelihoods. Andre also led the Foundation’s Leadership Awards program from 2014 to 2018.
He brings more than two decades of experience in the public policy and advocacy arenas, holding senior positions within philanthropy, political consulting, and government. Prior to joining Irvine, Andre was a senior strategist for one of the nation’s leading political consulting firms, with a deep involvement in California’s ballot initiatives, statewide, and local elections.
Previously, he was Director of Communications for the Rockefeller Foundation, and served in various roles within the Clinton Administration, including Special Assistant to the President in the Office of Public Liaison, and Director of Communications and Strategic Planning at the U.S. Peace Corps.
In the mid-1990s, Andre took a hiatus from government to serve on the United Nations election team in South Africa’s historic presidential elections. He has also worked extensively in southern and western Africa, including development and electoral work in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
President and CEO, San Diego Workforce Partnership
Peter had led nonprofit organizations in the San Diego region since 1986 including services to people with disabilities, the homeless, and under-represented job seekers. He joined the SDWP as CEO in 2012. With an annual budget of $30 million from multiple sources and investors (public, private sector and philanthropy), the SDWP funds, oversees and delivers workforce programs to empower job seekers to meet the needs of regional employers. The SDWP conducts in-depth labor market research, releasing numerous studies in order to understand the needs and trends in our economy. With an emphasis on underserved populations and people with barriers to employment, but available to all job seekers, the SDWP and its funded partners services reach 100,000+ job seekers annually. The SDWP directly administers Connect2Careers and the Life Sciences Summer Institute, young adult internship/job programs that reaches 15,000+ youth with robust work readiness and job placement services. Leading the effort in their region to address the crisis of disconnected/opportunity youth, the SDWP has created a broad-based initiative (large annual conference – OpportunitySD.org, ongoing work groups, extensive research, online tools and more). SDWP launched an Income Share Agreement (ISA) fund in 2018 – an innovative student financing model to create post-secondary pathways – the first workforce ISA in the country. Recipient of the “WIOA Trailblazer” award in 2018 (of 550 workforce boards around the country) by the National Association of Workforce Boards, the SDWP is a nationally recognized leader in due to many innovations, new programs, convenings, community partnerships, use of technology, and creative marketing as they aspire to redefine workforce development.
Mary Jo Cook
President and CEO, Pacific Community Ventures
Mary Jo Cook is the President & CEO of Pacific Community Ventures, a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that envisions a world of thriving communities where everyone has a fair shake. PCV’s mission is to invest in small businesses, create good jobs for working people, and make markets work for social good.
Mary Jo believes that as a society, we simply must do more to create jobs that are good for workers, good for businesses, and good for communities. Under her leadership, PCV has created an integrated model to help small businesses grow and create higher quality jobs by combining affordable loans, pro-bono mentoring, quality jobs tools and incentives, paired with impact measurement and management. As part of this model, PCV has developed and launched Good Jobs, Good Business: A practical toolkit to help small business owners create jobs that boost the bottom line. In addition, as an Aspen Institute Job Quality fellow, Mary Jo is collaborating with others to improve job quality across the country.
Mary Jo currently serves as Board Chair for Ganaz, a social enterprise connecting farmers who need good workers with workers who need good jobs, and serves on the advisory board of Sustainable Brands, an organization that helps companies integrate social and environmental sustainability into their business models. Prior to joining PCV, she was Chief Impact Officer at Fair Trade USA, where she engaged businesses and consumers to improve the livelihoods of farmers and workers. While Vice President at the Clorox Company, she held senior management roles in Innovation, Sustainability, Strategy and Marketing. Throughout her career, Mary Jo has been passionate about using business as a force for good.
Owner, Batter Bakery
Batter was created out of a lifelong passion for baking; a unique creative energy; and a love for bringing people happiness through wonderful food. Owner & founder Jen Musty has been baking for as long as she can remember – standing on a chair next to her mother before she could even reach the counter. After a year of a “practical” career of public accounting, there was no question that the future plan was to create a business out of baking. With no formal training or experience, Jen dove headfirst into pursuing a true passion project. Batter was launched full time in May of 2008, and has grown from a one-woman business to a full-fledged local bakery, making a name for itself alongside iconic San Francisco favorites. Today, Batter operates two full-time retail locations (the kiosk + a flagship bakery & café); a farmers market stall at the famed Ferry Plaza Farmers Market; a bustling wholesale business; and catering for special events.
Batter Bakery is the quintessential combination of nostalgia and innovation. Classic, memory-evoking treats highlight unique local produce and unexpected flavor combinations, impeccable presentation, and a sophisticated flair. Batter uses the best of the farmers market to create baked goods with bright, seasonal flavors. Paired with organic grains, local dairy, and premium chocolate, these seasonal flavors create irresistible treats. Jen is a strong believer that baked goods should be a daily indulgence, not reserved only for special occasions!