Community work is in Logan Herring’s veins. Everything the Wilmington nonprofit CEO is doing, his grandfather did.
The late Rev. Otis Herring was a blind preacher and civil rights activist in Wilmington, as well as the founder of Union Baptist Church.
“He didn’t have sight, but he had vision,” Logan said.
Today, the grandson is CEO of “The Workgroup,” a collection of three nonprofit organizations. Their mission is to empower the community to its full potential by eliminating the barriers of structural racism and revolutionizing teen engagement.
“My grandfather would be happy that I’m doing this work,” Herring said, “but he’d be sad that I have to do it.”
Herring will be one of three keynote speakers when Delaware’s Millennial Summit, a conference focused on young professionals and their development, goes online Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Summit, normally held at the Chase Center at the Riverfront, is going virtual because of restrictions on gatherings as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Hosted by Spur Impact Association, a nonprofit focused on youth professional development, the summit grew out of an idea Spur executive director Charles Vincent and Robert Herrera had for a speaker series on economic development aimed at young people.
Wilmington had just been named Murdertown USA. Downtown was struggling. Market Street was a ghost town after 6 p.m. on a Friday night.
The speaker series morphed into the 2017 Millennial Summit with a variety of speakers and topics on all aspects of life. Last year, more than 1,000 people attended.
Millennials have forged a different generational identity than prior generations, said Sarah Fulton, associate director at Spur Impact.
“We are not defined by our day job as our parents were,” she said. “We essentially created the gig economy. I don’t know many Millennials who do just one thing … We need to utilize our talents to help stand out in the corporate workplace.”
The virtual conference offers a different focus each day. Monday, Aug. 3 is focused on entrepreneurship and how to build a business for success. Tuesday, Aug. 4 is focused on leadership and professional development. Wednesday, Aug. 5 is focused on nonprofits and community service, as well as building social media presence. Each day, there will be workshops. All the sessions can be replayed on the summit’s app.
The summit will feature more than 50 local, regional and national speakers and experts. It also will allow one-on-one connections with business mentors through the Coaches Corner and virtual meetings.
The featured keynote speakers for the summit include Herring; Kimmi Wernli, owner of Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter’ and John Henry, entrepreneur and co-founder of Harlem Capital, former host of VICE TV’s ‘Hustle,’ and listed on Forbes 30 under 30.
From a young age, Herring was interested in volunteerism and service to his community.
At the age of 14, he began as a camp counselor at the Boys & Girls Club in Elsmere, continuing every summer until he attended Goucher College in Towson, Maryland. While there, Herring continued to help underprivileged communities, focusing on youth in inner-city Baltimore.
When Herring graduated, he returned to Wilmington and founded Delaware Elite with his brother and Eugene Young, the Wilmington Urban League president. Delaware Elite focused on assisting student-athletes and giving them access to resources to succeed.
At Delaware Elite, he worked with the Boys & Girls club with BOSS (Beating Odds Studying STEM). Until 2016, he was the program director for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics).
All of that led him to his current role as the CEO of Kingswood Community Center, Redevelopment Education & Community Health (REACH) Riverside and The Warehouse.
REACH tries to foster community connections, helping residents gain access to resources. The changes are expected to include new homes.
“The entire project should take about 10 years, with 600 mixed units and eight phases,” said Herring. “At the end, the community should have new housing and the new community center.”
Herring was inspired to come to the Riverside community after he met a young man from Riverside involved with Delaware Elite.
The young man and his mother were both shot during a home invasion, and the son held his dying mother in his arms.
“I wanted to come into Riverside and support a failing community center,” Herring said. “I saw a good opportunity to help Riverside see the light. It was the best decision I ever made.”
However, he does not want REACH Riverside to become a crutch.
“In 10 years, I want to be out of business,” Herring said. “Nonprofits should not be in the business of seeing how to stay in business. I want to create a sustainable, vibrant, healthy community where people have upward mobility, and people can own their own homes.”
The Warehouse is the other large project of Herring’s.
“It will be a state of the art teen center, there are none around like it,” said Herring. The center is partnered with DHSS and Christiana Care for a Wellness Center and Kingswood Academy, a center for alternative students. “We take students that have been displaced from the surrounding six school districts, and we integrate them into the program.”
While the official opening was postponed due to CoVID-19, The Warehouse has been giving VIP tours and soon will be operational.
“Walking into The Warehouse is a constant inspiration of what is possible with dedication and hard work,” said Herring. “Every day is different. There are always new challenges. These are complex issues that require complex solutions, and I want to see those solutions through.”
Reflecting the COVID-19 restrictions, the the Millennial Summit partnered with the Delaware Restaurant Association to encourage participants to grab takeout from local restaurants. Posting on social media with the hashtag #lunchlocalde gives people who do the chance to win a prize.
Registration for the full summit is $69. Each day is $39 individually for $39. Register here. DelawareLIVE readers save 10% on the registration fees by using the discount code DelawareLIVE.
“Millennials are the next generation of leaders,” said Fulton. “They’re CEOs, they’re legislators. Millennials are as old as 41 at this point.”
And that aging has Summit planners thinking.
As Millenials grow older and Generation Z ages into the workplace, the Summit might need rebranding.
“We’ve been doing some soul searching,” Fulton said, “on how we can best maintain the brand, while also keeping up with our mission of helping young people.”