When it came time to name the organization’s first executive director, the leaders at Rising Tide Capital looked inward. To one of its graduates.
Gillian Sarjeant-Allen was named to lead the national nonprofit organization based in Jersey City that aims to help entrepreneurs from underserved communities.
In this role, Sarjeant-Allen joins RTC’s executive team to lead its New Jersey operations, managing programs, fundraising, communications and strategic partnerships within the state. She will steward the development and growth of RTC’s pioneering entrepreneurship program model, furthering the organization’s work in New Jersey as it continues its national expansion.
In addition to building strategic partnerships to benefit Rising Tide Capital’s community of entrepreneurs, Sarjeant-Allen will spearhead the external relations for 311 MLK, the organization’s new headquarters in Jersey City, which will be a first-of-its-kind, community-based model for inclusive entrepreneurial development and collaboration. Upon completion, 311 MLK will combine affordable housing, classrooms and coworking space in order to provide underserved entrepreneurs with the support and resources needed to develop sustainable businesses that build their community.
Sarjeant-Allen will report to co-founder and CEO Alfa Demmellash.
“Gillian brings leadership experience from the government, nonprofit and corporate sectors, but, more importantly, she is a respected leader in the community that Rising Tide Capital has called home for the past 15 years,” Demmellash said in a statement. “We have watched with pride as Gillian, a graduate of our nationally recognized Community Business Academy, launched several business initiatives geared towards creating access and opportunity in our community. She is already a part of the Rising Tide Capital family, and we know that our New Jersey programs are in safe hands.”
Demmellash said the announcement comes at an important time.
“This is an exciting new stage of operations for Rising Tide Capital,” she said. “With the continued expansion of our programs both nationally and globally, we felt the need to invest in the strength, resilience and integrity of our New Jersey program.
Sarjeant-Allen said she feels her experience with the program will be a plus.
“Rising Tide Capital has played an important role in my leadership as an entrepreneur, and I’m excited and deeply honored to be entrusted with the stewardship of its incredible work in the state of New Jersey,” she said. “Our work in New Jersey is the linchpin in the expansion of the organization, and I’m looking forward to connecting with our government stakeholders, community partners, funders and our entrepreneurs to continue building on our reputation for innovation and excellence.”
Sarjeant-Allen’s involvement with Rising Tide Capital began over a decade ago. After graduating from the Community Business Academy, she started her first social enterprise, the Jersey City Food Cooperative, to increase access to affordable, locally sourced, healthy food to Jersey City residents.
Her leadership and community engagement skills also led her to spearhead Black Wall Street Jersey City, a networking association focused on building wealth for historically marginalized demographics. Sarjeant-Allen’s relationship with RTC came full circle on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when she welcomed 223 new graduates of the organization’s nationally recognized Community Business Academy to the existing community of more than 3,000 graduates.
Prior to joining Rising Tide Capital, Sarjeant-Allen served in leadership at Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corp., where she supported the planning, development, and management of a $50 million investment from the private and public sectors to revitalize underinvested communities with a deep focus on affordable housing and economic development. At Garden State Episcopal CDC, she also led the “I Love Greenville” Community Plan, a neighborhood revitalization tax-credit program. She collaborated with corporate and municipal investors to secure more than $2.7 million in New Jersey government funding to support the plan.
Sarjeant-Allen started her career at American Express, then later managed the Healthy Food Access Program at the City of Jersey City’s Health and Human Services Department, where she built and leveraged a coalition of private-public stakeholders to provide nutrition education for approximately 3,500 Jersey City adults over an 18-month period.