Since launching locally in December 2019, Life Science Cares Philadelphia (LSC) has become known for connecting life sciences companies to poverty-reducing causes. With its former executive director Pete Wolf retiring, the nonprofit has found a new ED in entrepreneur Morgan Berman.
LSC connects local life science companies to nonprofits through volunteering opportunities such as clothing drives and mentorship. That includes its Project Onramp program that brings paid life science internships to low-income, first-gen college students. Meanwhile, MilkCrate launched in 2013 as a single app that allowed users to track their sustainability efforts, then pivoted to building custom apps for nonprofits and other mission-driven orgs, with an emphasis on tracking engagement.
Berman told Technical.ly her decision to join LSC as executive director was an extension of the work she has done with MilkCrate, through which she’s consistently looked for ways to find solutions to community issues through a for-profit model. A recent example is the Glitter app, a collaboration with social advocate and sanitation worker Terrill Haigler to incentivize Philadelphians to keep their neighborhoods clean.
“LSC is a funder of projects and programs that are directly attacking poverty in Philadelphia,” she said. “There are a lot of words in that sentence that resonate with who I am with MilkCrate.”
“Morgan’s passion and energy along with her depth of professional experience and connection to the Philadelphia region will accelerate our mission to leverage the intellectual, financial and human capital of the life sciences industry,” said Vin Milano, chairman of LSC Philadelphia and CEO of Idera Pharmaceuticals, in a statement. “As we learn to navigate our lives through the COVID-19 pandemic, we in the life sciences community are more eager than ever to step up and support our neighbors in need.”
With the expertise she gained in her eight years working on MilkCrate, Berman said she looks forward to combining her entrepreneurial background with her ability to measure impact — something LSC prioritizes, too.
LSC is an “amazing combination of everything that I do,” she said. “We’ve worked with a few foundations [before] with MilkCrate but it’s exciting to move into a role where that is the primary focus.”
In a letter announcing the leadership transition published on MilkCrate’s website, Berman also alludes to past frustration with funders not prioritizing the type of work MilkCrate offers as being an inspiration for changing her own professional focus.
“The funders didn’t want to partner with us because standardized metrics or tools were things that didn’t resonate, especially from an unknown for-profit vendor,” she wrote. “I had that same fire in the belly feeling before I started MilkCrate and Glitter — that feeling that something big needed to change and I was going to be a part of that change.”
(Psst, peep the letter to see shoutouts to social impact folks across Philly, from former Generocity head Mo Manklang to ROAR for Good founder Yasmine Mustafa to ImpactPHL Executive Director Cory Donovan.)
Her lesson for other entrepreneurs thinking of leaving operational roles at the companies they founded? Plot a contingency plan to ensure the long-lasting health of your company before making the leap. In taking on the new role, Berman will be succeeded as CEO by Darryl Moser, most recently MilkCrate’s COO, whose CV includes leadership roles at Horsham’s SofterWare and Berks County’s Gateway Ticketing Systems. She will also become MilkCrate’s new board chairperson.
As a career entrepreneur, Berman said making the decision to pivot from her role as CEO of MilkCrate required a ton of planning and strategy to make sure her move would be in the best interest of MilkCrate’s long-term trajectory. In addition to talking to advisors and MilkCrate investors to make sure the move was right for her, Berman wanted to ensure MilkCrate had a smooth transition in leadership.
“Darryl and I have known each other for two and a half years,” she said. “He came on as COO formally in February. We’ve been talking about what a transition would look like.”
As Berman prepares for the next step in her professional journey, she is most immediately focused on getting to know her new peers at LSC. In addition to Philly, the organization has branches in four other cities with their own respective executive directors, boards and nonprofit boards. Berman said she’ll look to learn from them about what has worked and what hasn’t in forwarding the goal of reducing poverty in their cities.
Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-