Mills College Empowers Entrepreneurial Women with New Resource Center in East Oakland

Oakland, CA—March 22, 2019

Last Friday, the Women’s Social Entrepreneurship Center (WSEC) in East Oakland opened its doors for the very first time.

A crowd gathered at the corner of International and Seminary for the WSEC’s grand opening. Community members poured into the renovated space that will now serve and support women and non-binary individuals of color as they embark on their journeys to become social entrepreneurs.

Darcelle Lahr, director of the College’s Center for Transformative Action and the WSEC, and Angel Burns, the first-ever client of the WSEC, discuss the new center on KTVU 2 Fox News.

In an interview about the new center with KTVU 2 Fox News, Darcelle Lahr, Mills professor and director of the WSEC, explained the goals of this new initiative: “At a high level we’re providing consulting services.” What makes this resource center unique relative to other consulting agencies, however, is its commitment to supporting individuals who are historically underserved in the commercial and financial worlds, including immigrant, undocumented, and re-entering individuals.

“What’s most important is that we’re trying to provide a safe, trauma-sensitive, culturally sensitive growth opportunity for these women,” says Lahr, “in order to ground themselves and be able to launch forward.”

Incubated by students and alumnae of the Mills College Lorry I. Lokey School of Business & Public Policy, the WSEC is designed to provide an environment in which the center’s clients have the resources, guidance, and community they need to address and overcome structural challenges that typically confront women and non-binary individuals as they set out to develop new social ventures.

Founded and guided by women of color, the center’s leadership have faced similar barriers in the entrepreneurial world as the clients they now serve. Collectively, the WSEC program directors, advisory board, and staff bring a diverse range of skills and experience, purpose and passion to the center. Its mission is aligned with that of its parent organization, the Center for Transformative Action, which aims to put the College’s MBA-level training and thought leadership to work revitalizing and empowering the local community.