2017 Leadership Awards: Business Leadership: Mike Brady; Greyston Bakery and Greyston Foundation
Mike Brady, 48, is the president and CEO of the nonprofit Greyston Foundation and its for-profit arm, Greyston Bakery, a Yonkers-based, mission-driven enterprise that seeks to change the lives of the formerly incarcerated and other hard-to-employ people.
“It’s a combination of a good business practice with a social justice model,” Brady says. “We are working to inspire other food businesses, or more broadly, any business, to take on these social practices in the future.”
At Greyston Bakery’s founding in 1982, in the Bronx, all a person had to do to potentially be hired was write a name and contact number on a sheet of paper, no resume or background check required. Over the years, this nonjudgmental practice has created more than 3,500 living wage jobs. Currently, the bakery employs more than 150 full-time workers.
Brady pointed out that an estimated 700,000 men and women are annually released from prison without an opportunity for employment. He cited a supervisor named Dion Drew as one of Greyston’s many success stories; for years he’d been cycling in and out of prison for selling drugs. “He was committed to turning his life around but wasn’t able to find work,” Brady says. Eight years ago Drew put his name on a list at Greyston Bakery and worked his way up, proving to himself and his family that he could have a legal life. Now he participates in speaking engagements with Brady, including a TED Talk.
Greyston Bakery’s products are significantly expanding in the coming year, launching a brownie on all Delta flights from the U.S. to Europe and Asia and also grab-and-go cookies at Whole Foods. “The organization and its vision is more powerful today than it was 34 years ago,” Brady says. “It’s amazing to see people change their lives and be able to help them be thriving members of the community.”
1995—Greyston Bakery broke ground on a community garden program in Yonkers, growing to 10 gardens today.
1998—Issan House and Maitri Center opened as housing for those living with HIV/AIDS.
2004—Maya Lin-designed 21,000-square-foot bakery opened in Yonkers.
2008—Launched WD 2.0 (Workforce Development program) serving hard-to-employ Yonkers residents, doing background checks for security and child care jobs, required by law.
2010—Mike Brady joined Greyston Foundation’s board of directors.
2012—Brady named as president of Greyston Bakery. The company became the first in New York State to register as a Benefit Corporation (B Corp).
2013—New $32 million multifamily housing development opened in Yonkers to provide 92 apartments for local working families. Installed solar panels to source cleaner energy at the facility.
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