Logan Herring: CEO of WRK Group
As a native Wilmingtonian, Logan Herring had a choice after graduating from Goucher College in Maryland: spread his wings or return home.
“Because I was afforded many opportunities that I think a lot of people who look like me and come from where I come from, I decided that I needed to pay it forward and make sure that other people had some of, if not more of, those opportunities that I had,” he said.
Herring founded a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring at-risk young men in Wilmington, and slowly grew to take on bigger roles, including executive director of the Kingswood Community Center in the city’s Riverside neighborhood in 2016. Two years later, he was tapped to lead the ambitious REACH Riverside initiative, which uses the national Purpose Built Communities model to revitalize housing, education and community services in the neighborhood. With the addition of The Warehouse, a teen-designed, co-working and service delivery space focused on serving the city’s teen population, the WRK Group was created.
In the past year, Herring’s organization has made major strides in supporting an underserved community’s health needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting children to remote educational resources, highlighting the racial inequity of the city’s residents and raising funds to break ground on dozens of new housing units in Riverside.
While the WRK Group set a capital campaign goal in 2019 of raising $20 million in five years, Herring’s organizations have already raised $33 million. They are now targeting a goal of $50 million by 2023 – but Herring is personally pushing to get it done this year.
“As I see kids being killed every day and as bullets are flying at our community center, that gives me the sense of urgency to not hold back and to push as hard as I can,” he said.
While the original Purpose Built Community near Atlanta is 26 years into its work, the WRK Group is already the largest of the initiative’s projects in terms of budget or staff, Herring said. Typically, one organization runs the numerous parts, but in Wilmington the WRK Group’s three entities operate independently with a shared mission.
“That’s allowed us to hire and retain the best talent, which then benefits all the organizations,” Herring said. “It’s way more complex having to report to three boards, but we’ve begun to figure out a way to make it work for the full benefit of all participating parties.”
Herring said that the WRK Group depends upon its “Thanksgiving Model” to find success in its varied efforts.
“We rely on partnerships to bring the best dish to the table,” he explained. “Instead of us trying to recreate the wheel or redesign a program, we do what we do well, but we also rely on our partners.”
To encourage his team, Herring includes everyone in the innovative brainstorming sessions and supports their pilot programs. They don’t hold meetings on Mondays and are required to spend half of that day in service as part of a weekly mental health break.
“If our staff isn’t taken care of, treated well, and compensated well, then our clients aren’t treated well,” he said.