Deborah Frieze is an author, entrepreneur and social activist. In 2013, she co-founded the Boston Impact Initiative, a place-based impact investing fund that seeks to create systemic shifts in opportunity for urban communities. The fund takes an integrated capital approach, combining investing, lending and giving to help build resilient local economies.
Deborah’s focus on resilience began during her tenure as co-president of The Berkana Institute, where she worked to support pioneering leaders who were walking out of organizations and systems that were failing to contribute to the common good—and walking on to build resilient communities. These leaders are the subject of her award-winning book, Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now, co-authored with Margaret Wheatley.
After writing Walk Out Walk On, Deborah decided to build an urban learning center modeled after the pioneering leaders she wrote about. In August 2013, she founded the Old Oak Dojo in Jamaica Plain, MA, a place where neighbors gather to rediscover how to create healthy and resilient communities. This small studio, which shares a half-acre residential lot with a community home, is an experiment in dissolving the boundary between public and private. Its purpose is to provide a space for community to meet, learn, eat, celebrate and play—and thereby restore our wholeness as citizens.