“She preaches focus on growth, not fear, to anyone she can reach, and has made it her mission to assist business owners across the nation.”
Southern California Edison drives impactful local collaborations.
“Mindset is key. And the key to growth is forward thinking and reframing.” A wise observation from Schenae Rourk, President of Redwood Resources, a strategic procurement, diversity and inclusion consulting firm based in California. Rourk currently serves as a director of National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)–California. She is the immediate past president of the local chapter of NAWBO–Los Angeles, where Southern California Edison (SCE) is a longtime sponsor and supporter.
One of the largest electric utilities in the United States and a leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency, Rosemead, California-headquartered SCE has provided electric service in the central, coastal and southern regions of the state for more than 130 years, serving approximately 15 million people in a 50,000-square-mile area. The almost decade-long relationship between SCE and Rourk was born out of a connection made through NAWBO’s Peak Series Initiative, a program designed to help women-owned businesses achieve a $1 million revenue threshold.
SCE and Rourk have collaborated to great success and continue to work on projects together through NAWBO as well as independently of NAWBO when the opportunity arises. Unlike many entrepreneurs though, Rourk didn’t found Redwood Resources. She has, however, led and owned the company for nearly 20 years and is responsible for its current success and impact.
Rourk is, in fact, continuing the legacy of her friend and founder of Redwood Resources, Barbaretta Newton, who passed away in 2014. The company was established in the early ‘90s to help get minorities (minority-owned companies) more public agency contracts, something Newton did effectively and with great passion, according to Rourk. Much of that passion came from her husband Melvin Newton, teacher at Merritt College in Oakland, and brother-in-law Dr. Huey P. Newton, African American political activist and co-founder of the Black Panther Party, who inspired people to fight against racism, sexism and classism.
“What better way to fight all three by helping minorities scale, get more public agency and corporate contracts while making the case for community investment and good corporate citizenship in underserved communities,” says Rourk. The history of Redwood Resources explains a great deal about the company’s mission to help corporations increase supplier diversity spend and diverse small businesses scale. Today, with Rourk at the helm, the company is a resource of information, connections and good corporate citizenship and community investment messaging for companies looking to procure public agency contracts.
As with the rest of the world, Rourk has been confronted with COVID-19 challenges to her business, but she’s stepped up to face them and has gone the extra mile to help others by using her expertise and existing network. She preaches focus on growth, not fear, to anyone she can reach, and has made it her mission to assist business owners across the nation. Through her various organizational connections, Rourk has developed programming and partnerships to help stimulate the economy for small and diverse businesses, spending much of her time donating her skills and expertise to virtual meetings, discussing and sharing economic strategies that will ensure small diverse businesses have and hold a sustainable future.
Rourk is active in her small business community and in the community at large. Redwood Resources is certified as a diverse small business and Rourk serves as Chair of the Transportation Business Advisory Council (TBAC), a member of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Advisory Council, and the Advocacy Co-Chair Committee of BizFed. She is also on the California Department of Transportation Independent Office of Audits and Investigations (Caltrans IOAI) task force for small and diverse business growth and a member of the Los Angeles Business Council.
Additionally, Rourk partners with nonprofits to write, publish and distribute women of color programming, an initiative that is supported by founding partner SCE. The alliance will see many more successful outcomes as witnessed over the past 10 years. Rourk works tirelessly in her efforts to continue and grow what Newton began almost 30 years ago. Her accomplishments would make Newton proud.
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