Social Venture Institute
True Confession Speakers
We call these True Confession sessions, where we encourage speakers to be open with the audience by telling their intimate and animated behind-the-scenes stories of business challenges and successes.
Judy Wicks is founder of Philadelphia’s landmark White Dog Cafe, which she operated for 26 years, developing a national reputation for environmental stewardship, community engagement, and leadership in the local food movement. Under Judy’s proprietorship, White Dog purchased only humanely and naturally raised meat, poultry and eggs, sustainably harvested fish, and fair trade chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, coffee and tea. Other sustainable practices included recycling and composting, solar heated hot water, eco-friendly soaps and office supplies, and 100% renewable electricity.
In order to help build a whole local economy that supported these practices, Judy founded Fair Food and the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, which she supported with twenty percent of business profits through her non-profit White Dog Community Enterprises.
Judy co-founded the nationwide Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) in 2001, and has become an international leader, speaker and author in the local living economies movement.
Judy has received numerous awards for combining business success and social action, including the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year and Inc. magazine's 25 favorite entrepreneurs.
Her memoir, Good Morning, Beautiful Business: the Unexpected Journey of an Activist Entrepreneur and Local Economy Pioneer, was published by Chelsea Green in March, 2013.
Michael K. Pearson, President, Founder, and Owner of Union Packaging, LLC (“UP”)
Established in 1999, UP is a Yeadon, Pennsylvania based maker of earth-friendly Food Service and Quick Service Restaurant paperboard packaging. Food is served around the nation in clamshell, folded, and nested cartons made by UP. Mike served in the United States military as combat duty Army Officer in the Persian Gulf War, where he received the Bronze Star. Prior to starting UP, Mike was employed with Pfizer, Inc., Wyeth, Laboratories, and Westvaco (known today as MeadWestvaco). He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
Mike has a prolific history of nonprofit service. He currently is on the board of directors for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (Executive Board of Directors), Public Health Management Corporation (Treasurer), ACHIEVEability, United Way of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey, and the Committee of Seventy. Mike is presently part of the Governor’s Manufacturing Advisory Council for Pennsylvania. Also, in May 2012, the Urban League of Philadelphia presented the Spirit of Innovation Award to Union Packaging.