Two Boston nonprofits combine forces

Social Innovation Forum
Susan Musinsky

Critics complain Boston has too many nonprofits. Susan Musinsky and Vilas Dhar agree — so they’re merging their organizations, a move aimed at increasing their reach and impact.

Musinsky is executive director of the Social Innovation Forum, which strengthens nonprofits and socially conscious businesses by connecting them with training, funders, and volunteers.

Dhar is founder of the Next Mile Project, an incubator and accelerator for “social impact” organizations.


They decided that combining forces would let them offer more services and help more organizations. So they’re teaming up in a 5,000-square-foot co-working facility at One Congress Street.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

In addition to subsidized office space, nonprofits and “social good” companies will have access to legal services, executive coaching, data analysis, and possibly marketing, graphic design, and video production.

“Next Mile supports a lot of very early-stage organizations, and Social Innovation Forum supports organizations at the next stage of development,” Musinsky says, “and we felt like we could do that under one roof and be one organization versus two.”

They’re keeping their respective names, but Next Mile Project has dissolved its board and become a program of the Social Innovation Forum.

Several small groups are already based at the Congress Street site, including the Boston Shakespeare Project, Team Heart, Our Starting Point, South Asian Arts Council, Gift of Life, D-tree International, Exceptional Lives, and Step Up.


Organizations working with the Social Innovation Forum include Boston CASA, Citizens for Juvenile Justice, Community Economic Development Center, Institute for Nonprofit Practice, Julie’s Family Learning Program, Project Citizenship, and Room to Grow. — SACHA PFEIFFER

Pet project

Camelle Kent became a big fan of all-natural pet food when she realized it helped reduce skin irritations on her yellow lab, Rommel .

Kent has a good reason to be a fan, one that goes well beyond her dog’s health. She was promoted this month to be chief executive of WellPet, the Tewksbury company that specializes in natural pet food.

Kent succeeds Tim Callahan, who became chief executive of WellPet’s parent company, Philadelphia-based Berwind.

Callahan, in a statement, praised Kent for her “business acumen, understanding and appreciation of WellPet’s culture and customers.”


The move represents a major milestone in Kent’s career. She got her start working for Boston-based Gillette in her native New Zealand, joining the consumer products giant in the mid-1990s in marketing. She eventually relocated to Boston to take on additional responsibilities with Procter & Gamble-owned Gillette, before leaving the company in 2009. She then held marketing roles with Avon Cosmetics and Timberland before joining WellPet in 2013.

WellPet is perhaps best known around here for its Old Mother Hubbard brand, which originated in Gloucester then later moved to a Lowell plant. But now all of WellPet’s manufacturing is done out of state; about a quarter of its 350-person workforce is in Tewksbury.

Kent hopes to boost the company’s profile in 2017. One initiative: a “Battle of the Biscuits” competition for the Old Mother Hubbard brand. Consumers can suggest wacky treat flavors, and the company will produce three concepts for a limited release, with one top winner slated for wide-scale commercialization.

Gillette, she says, was a great place to work. But leading a pet food company brings with it a distinct kind of satisfaction: “It feels a lot more like you’re making a real difference in people’s lives.” — JON CHESTO

Can’t keep a secret? Tell us. E-mail Bold Types at [email protected].