Celebration and Reflections
25 January 2019 - Michelle Geiss

Remarks and reflections from Co-Founder and Executive Director, Michelle Geiss, for the celebration of Impact Hub’s Third Anniversary:

“I am honored to be the Executive Director of this magical place, as well as one of the co-founders along with Pres Adams and Rodney Foxworth.

We’ve been building community since 2012 around social entrepreneurs and community leaders of Baltimore. I joined that crew in Feb 2013, so this really marks something like six years of incredible growth for us, which is a little mind-blowing.

At my first SocEnt breakfast, I felt like I barely belonged in that room. I was working all over the world at that point and still learning the landscape in Baltimore. I had learned the word “coworking” sometime around then. And no part of me identified as a social entrepreneur. I didn’t really even know what it meant to leap into that space. I was there because I had a few ideas.

I had met dozens of incredible community leaders and founders of cool projects and simply wanted to help them out.

Fast forward to this moment today, and I have now met hundreds and hundreds of those leaders, and had a front row seat to watch their ideas come to life in the real world. To make a real difference for real people.

There is something pretty incredible about watching ideas be born. And to see them grow up into integral parts of the fabric of our city interwoven with all the other dreamers and doers that make this city great.

I have no question that the thought leadership happening in Baltimore is some of the greatest in the world. Even when it is born out of all the immense struggles we all face, we should be tremendously proud of the integrity and creativity our grassroots leadership brings to the table. It truly has the power to change the entire world.

This morning I was reflecting on how this place has changed me. On the lessons I have personally learned from six years of building and running this space.

One tremendous thing I’ve learned from Impact Hub is how to transform some concept of who I am and what I need to do, to a daily practice of responsiveness. To learning to feel my environment and the people in it, and shift my energy towards the thing that needs it most. To hold space for hard things. To celebrate small victories. To lighten up even when the world gets to feeling heavy. Maybe especially then.

It has taught me that standing alone is only one kind of strength. And that leaning on one another is another kind of strength entirely. That being vulnerable enough to let people in creates a different set of possibilities. That strength born out of all that collective understanding is a force to be reckoned with.

In the past three years, I have seen our community move further and faster together. I have been filled with pride to see people realize their dreams. I have felt myself lifted up by that collective energy in this space. I have walked in feeling overwhelmed or stuck and had those feelings totally replaced by wonder and amazement at the work being done within these walls. Well beyond anything we could have imagined.

This is a space built on trust. In an era when we can be so easily defined by what separates us, this community of people is united by what they have in common. We feed each other’s ideas. We cheer each other on. And we hold each other accountable to grow. Even when that gets hard.

Impact Hub has taught me that trust is a powerful force, and that nearly anything becomes possible when you start there.

I am immensely grateful to our team for being in this work together; to all of our funders, supporters and partners; to all of the people who have invested their time, energy, and ideas to bring this space to life; to my husband Andy who lets me lean on him when the going gets tough; and to the beautiful community of members and friends who show up here every day. We love you. Thank you for trusting us and for trusting each other. It is no doubt a revolutionary act, and it makes all the difference in the world.”

On January 24, 2019, Impact Hub Baltimore hosted A Fancy & Funky 3rd Anniversary Fête! to celebrate its third year anniversary. A very special thank you to Clarence Ward III & Dat Feel Good for providing live jazz as we celebrated and raised a glass to all of the amazing people who have made this space come to life.