Economic Development and Nonprofits

Executive leaving Local First

January 23, 2020
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Elissa Sangalli. Courtesy Local First

The executive director of a nonprofit that supports local businesses is stepping down.

Elissa Sangalli announced her plans to leave her role as executive director of Local First. She is taking a leadership role at “another venture” beginning in March. She plans to share her future plans next month.

Hanna Schulze, development manager for Local First, will serve as interim director starting Feb. 14 while the board conducts a search for a full-time executive director.

Four years after its founding, Sangalli was hired in 2007 as Local First’s first full-time executive director. Under Sangalli’s leadership, the organization has grown over 700% to more than 800 member businesses and organizations throughout West Michigan.

“Serving in that role for the last 13 years has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” Sangalli said in a statement. “I’ve been privileged to work alongside passionate entrepreneurs, community leaders, and social justice and sustainability advocates. Together, we’ve cast visions and developed them into reality.”

Under Sangalli’s leadership, Local First has made several significant achievements over the years, including hosting the 2012 BALLE Conference and completing the 2008 “Local Works!” study, which makes the business case for locally based economies.

Sangalli created the Measure What Matters campaign and Quick Impact Assessment tool in partnership with B Lab, the creator of the Certified B Corporation standard. This campaign allows main street businesses to quantify and benchmark their impact on their employees, community and environment.

Now known as Good For Michigan, more than 300 West Michigan businesses and 50,000 others worldwide have used the assessment to measure their impacts.

“While I’ll be leaving the organization, I will not be leaving our region or our shared commitment to growing an economy that puts people first,” Sangalli said.

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