Chief Executive Director, North Lawndale Employment Network
Brenda Palms-Barber never meant to start a green project. She just wanted to create jobs for the residents of Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, 57 percent of whom have been incarcerated or had some involvement with the criminal justice system. As chief executive director of the North Lawndale Employment Network, she hatched the idea for Sweet Beginnings, an urban honey farming business that trains and employs locals who would otherwise have a hard time finding a job. In addition to selling honey, Sweet Beginnings produces the beeline brand of all-natural personal-care products, which are now sold in Chicago Whole Foods stores, among other outlets. A sweet idea all around.