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The Inclusive Economy

Thank you, Jack Litzenberg!

By Lauren Williams and Jimmy Crowell on 05/11/2012 @ 11:00 AM

Tags: Entrepreneurship

Click to download a video clip of Jack accepting AEO's lifetime achievement award.

Last week, we had the chance to attend the Jack A. Litzenberg Lifetime Achievement Award Luncheon at the Association for Enterprise Opportunity’s 2012 National Conference “The Power of Microbusiness.” As newcomers to the field of microbusiness, we did not know much about Jack’s legacy or how much he contributed to the creation of the field. However, after attending the luncheon, meeting Jack and listening to the touching testimonials to his leadership, creativity and dedication, we feel indebted to Jack. For nearly thirty years, Jack Litzenberg’s grant making at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation played a fundamental role in the development of a movement to empower low-income entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and move up the economic ladder.

Leaders from all across the field of microenterprise, including CFED’s founder Bob Friedman, gave passionate remarks about Jack and his many years of work with the Mott Foundation funding amazing projects. Bob Friedman’s words especially resonated with us. The poem below, “Jack’s Hands,” written by Bob, expresses the awe-inspiring nature of Jack Litzenberg’s work:

Jack’s Hands

Calloused and rough,
Brave and bold,
Pointing to promise --
The product of reality’s sanding.

Cramped crafting the script,
Now piercing the sky,
Dancing with imagined possibility
That leaves millions more standing.

Jack’s heart,
Too big for his chest:
Embracing, understanding
Present and future.

Welfare moms,
Kids who deserve more,
Entrepreneurs but for lack of a seed,
Skilled workers but for a path,
Social entrepreneurs, imagining better:
To all, an encouraging and gentle lift,
That rarest and most valuable of gifts.

Jack’s head,
Brimming with ideas
Of a better world
And the ways there.
A furrowed, full and expansive brow,
A generous world to plow.

In Jack’s hands, heart and head,
We have been shaped and bred,
Taught, nourished, loved and fed
Freed, calmed, centered, led.

We are in the best of company.
Thank you, Jack.

Bob Friedman
March 30, 2012

The field that Jack helped build is the field in which we are now building our careers. Jack retired in January from the Mott Foundation, and as new entrants to the microenterprise field, we’re excited to have inherited a legacy as monumental, unique and celebrated as Jack’s.

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