Unsung Hero Spotlight: Henry Rael, Albuquerque, NM

To you, what is an Ecosystem Builder?

An Ecosystem Builder is someone who:

  1. looks at challenges and opportunities in the context of the larger systems in which they occur;
  2. designs solutions that are grounded in self-sustainability; and
  3. takes actions to connect stakeholders and seek funding to enable local leaders to do the work.

What motivates you as an ecosystem builder?

My ancestors in New Mexico survived and persisted through cooperation, a concept that can enable a new, more inclusive economy. I can’t think of any other way.

What is the most successful/impactful program/event/thing you do/have done in your ecosystem?

Co-founded Agri-Cultura Network, a local food platform, including the La Cosecha community supported agriculture program.

What is your biggest challenge as an ecosystem builder?

Aligning funding among foundations.

What is your biggest frustration as an ecosystem builder?

The slow pace at which things in the public/non-profit sector can move and the occasional failure of partners to follow through on agreed upon strategies and goals.

What ecosystem building skill/knowledge do you want to gain?

How can we accelerate enterprise development?

What are the most important things that need to happen to advance the field of ecosystem building?

Broader adoption of shared data systems.

What others say about Henry:

Henry is just one of those guys that you can’t help but love. His heart is all in, and his passion for supporting traditionally underserved entrepreneurs is what he is all about. What I admire about Henry is his unique perspective and background. While he has been with the McCune Foundation for the last many years doing incredible work with the Molino Project, Asset Funders Network, and more, he also has been a community leader and entrepreneur himself; he was director for an organization that sought to aggregate local farmer’s products for distribution through various farmer’s markets, restaurants, and the La Montañita Food Cooperative. More than all of this, Henry has taught me a whole lot about how to build ecosystems. Everything from how culture and history impacts ecosystem development, the importance of creating and sharing a common language among ecosystem players, why you have to meet entrepreneurs where they are, and how to be a selfless champion for others and for the success of the network. Truly, Henry is one amazing guy. Did I mention he also has a TED talk?

Connect with Henry at the McCune Charitable Foundation!


Anika Horn

Anika Horn is an ecosystem builder for social change, social enterprise advisor and storyteller. She is on a mission to equip ecosystem builders with the insights, resources and community to lead fulfilling lives and purpose-driven careers. Learn more about her work at SocialVenturers.com and AnikaHorn.com.

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