Local First tapped Hanna Schulze to be its next executive director.
Schulze previously served as interim director after Elissa Sangalli stepped down in February. Local First’s board of directors formed a search committee for a full-time executive director but chose to offer Schulze the position in June.
“These last six months have made it clear to me we have a lot of advantages as a small nimble organization to adapt quickly and respond to the needs of our business communities,” Schulze said. “When the executive order came and shut down most of our businesses, we were able to pivot our services in a way that responded to the need of our business and our consumer base.”
Even when forced to work remotely during the COVID-19 crisis, the Local First team responded quickly to update consumers on what businesses were still serving customers how they changed their operations to keep employees and customers safe during the pandemic, Schulze said.
Under Schulze’s leadership, Local First also put out a call to local partners like CPAs and law firms to help businesses navigate the COVID-19 climate.
“What’s unique is because we have this network of businesses, we’ve been building out this community with the intentionality of creating local community-minded impact and business practices,” Schulze said. “We had a huge number of local businesses donate their time and expertise.”
Schulze was introduced to Local First as a part-time events assistant before joining the organization full time in 2013. She served in a variety of roles within Local First before becoming executive director.
In an earlier interview with the Business Journal, Schulze said, “The more time I spent researching and working for this organization, the more I understood the connectivity between the idea of a resilient local economy and all the other parts of the world that I wanted to affect for the better.”
Local First works with 600-800 businesses at a given time each year, helping them discover ways to grow and also helping individuals pursue their dreams of owning a business.