Jen Brady Gives us Hope

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This conversation gave me such a feeling of humility yet hope about our world. It’s an awful place sometimes but some people are truly awesome at making it better.

Jen Brady is the Executive Director of Oasis, a non-profit serving women and children in Paterson, NJ and this is her second appearance on the show. In the first show we talked about COVID and the poor. This time we’re digging right onto Oasis and its mission and how it’s doing.

Charity is incredibly similar to insurance. As I half joked once in comparing them: “One of them supplies resources to those in desperate need and hopefully enables them to pull themselves out of their difficult circumstances to lead a successful life. So does the other one.” Insurers could do well to learn from Jen. And she has a remarkable track record, doubling the size of Oasis during her tenure and initiating many fascinating experiments and new initiatives in Paterson, NJ. 

We discuss:
* How self-belief is the most important factor in women lifting themselves out of poverty
* How that feeling of self-belief is constructed, influenced and nurtured in and out of Oasis
* The difference between generational poverty and immigrant poverty
* What is the drop out rate (I was astonished) and how do they manage drop-outs
* Do the problems feel endless?
* What did they learn by extending Oasis into housing development?
* How to not create bureaucracy in solving problems
* How they handle the cultural complexity of women and children from 26 different countries (plus Paterson natives!)
* How the social consequences of COVID (lockdowns, etc) impacted poor families
* How much talent there is hidden in places like Paterson

Why did I do this show?

Jen Brady ( is a tremendously successful executive in an industry (non-profit) that I know virtually nothing about but which has a very many links to my insurance.

What did I learn?

A very many things. One that nearly everyone who enters these programs drops out. Working with that fact in a graceful way to bring people in and out is a cornerstone of succeeding at the very difficult work Oasis does.

What was my favorite part?

I was delighted to hear about all the experiments they’r running at Oasis and generally how similar the problems of delivering organizational impact (Learn as a team! Don’t create bureaucracy! Move fast! Focus on the customer!) are no matter what kind of organization you run.


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