Entrepreneur and Foundation Board Member Alex West Steinman is embracing equity and accessibility with her work.
Alex West Steinman is the definition of a renaissance woman.
Powered by creativity, inspiration from her parents and The Get Down Coffee, Alex regularly balances parenthood with a career dedicated to establishing safe, open and supportive environments for those who are often overlooked.
Watch this upbeat, fast-paced and insightful interview to learn how this Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation board member’s resilience, drive and entrepreneurial spirit helped her launch a career in public relations, and become CEO and partner of The Coven – a digital and physical community for change makers in the Twin Cities, centered on the experiences of women, non-binary and trans folk.
Chris Garner: So as a working mom, what's your favorite go-to meal?
Alex West Steinman: Whew, as a working mom my favorite go-to meal is macaroni.
Chris: What's your go-to drink?
Alex: I'm a huge coffee drinker and so, and I love the Get Down Coffee Company by Houston White. I got a chance to be a part of his crowdfunding campaign and that was such an awesome experience and I love drinking his coffee, so um yeah I'm a huge coffee drinker.
Chris: What's your favorite hairstyle?
Alex: Well I love an afro. I usually wear my hair in an afro, but right now I have really short hair um and I'm wearing braids today.
Chris: I can relate.
Chris: Why do you think it's so important to create a safe and comfortable workspace for women and non-binary individuals?
Alex: We know that physical and psychological safety is a predictor for being able to take risks, so when you feel safe, you know, in your space, when you feel safe in your mind, like you will take risks and becoming an entrepreneur and stepping into leadership are risky things. The ability to feel like you belong makes it feel like you've got, you know, hands on your back and that you can step forward into a leadership position or start your own thing.
Chris: How has the pandemic impacted people such as the individuals you support?
Alex: I think one thing that is really different about our community is that we really emphasize joy in our space. We know there is so much going on in the world. Where we come in is being able to help people move through their days in a in a joyful way, not necessarily ignoring what's going on in the world it's like let's acknowledge the hard things that are out there and let's find joy and space and creativity within one another so that we can do better together.
Chris: What is equity to you specifically?
Alex: Equity is making sure that everyone has access to resources. I think equity is something that youhave to practice every day in your life is how can I make this more accessible? How can I create more opportunities? You know you don't have to be a DEI facilitator to embrace equity in your day-to-day.
Chris: So what are some of the ways you've helped implement diversity, equity and inclusion into your work at the Coven?
Alex: Everything that we do comes from a DEI lens, an equity lens, making sure that everyone has access.
We offer a five-for-one community funded membership so for every five paid members we gift one to someone in our community who needs it, and so we've been able to offer to date 300 free memberships to folks across our digital community and physical communities and that's something that we will always continue to do.
You know, every organization is trying in some way to include DEI in their mission and in their organization. What I love about the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation is that it's really ingrained in the foundation. It's really about providing access to as many people as possible to capital and resources and opportunities. You know, one thing I love about community foundations is that they're able to deploy funds to community.
Because there's so many organizations, you know, small nonprofits and really impactful businesses that are doing the work every day and they know their audience, they know their neighbors. You know, capacity building is a huge issue in small nonprofits and even big nonprofits.
So to be able to support those leaders who are on the ground every day is so important and I think that's the work of a community foundation, especially one as large as the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, is to make sure that those funds get in the right hands quickly so that those community organizations really can sustain long-term support for their communities.
Chris: What are your hopes for the future with this type of work that you do?
Alex: Yeah, I really hope that, you know, this work is, you know, legacy building. This isn't just a you know flash in the pan; it's not just, especially at the Coven, it's not just a cool co-working space, but it's really a space where, you know, my kids can, you know, come and work when they're of age and their kids can come and work and feel seen and represented. I hope that more spaces like this are invented and they get better and they're able to serve communities in a better way.
You know, this only gets better the more we listen to what community needs because we're able to respond directly to that, to those needs, so that people can have thriving lives in whatever that means for that individual. It might not mean that they're like the boss person, but it might also, it might mean that they're able to start their own um art in their homes or it might mean that they're able to, you know, have kids or it might mean that they're able to, you know, find a spouse that they really care about.
And so I think that's really what I care about is building long-term, creating legacy-building not just products but institutions that really support community long term and not just in the immediate.
Want to hear more from Alex? Tune in to episode 3 of I So Appreciate You! as Alex talks about her work, parenthood and how The Coven pivoted its services during the pandemic to establish a healthier work environment.
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