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Being a leader in the midst of chaos: How one Boston business is coping the day after

Dan Gorenstein Apr 16, 2013

Being a leader in the midst of chaos: How one Boston business is coping the day after

Dan Gorenstein Apr 16, 2013

Most days, Laura Perille shows up to the office, planning on a full day of fund raising, grant reviews and phone calls.

Perille is the executive director of Edvestors, a small non-profit that works to bring private investment to urban public schools.

But today isn’t one of those days. Today is the day after.

The day after two bombs went off in Boston, just a few blocks from EdVestors offices in the heart of Back Bay. The day after three people were killed and more than a hundred injured. Today, business is a lot less about business and a lot more about family.

“The number one thing people are looking for is information and reassurance and community,” Perille said. “In moments of great tragedy and damage, that’s what people look for. And so in our very small way, that’s what we were doing.”

So, today, coffee and pastry greeted workers at EdVestors as they came into the office.

And the usual meetings, calls and tasks were pushed to the side.

People in and around the city are rattled. One of yesterday’s victims – 8-year-old Martin Richard — attended Neighborhood House Charter School, a school Edvestors works with.

Richard’s mother and 6-year-old sister were seriously injured in the blasts.

Perille knows minds will wander, and they must.

“It’s a day to take time to reflect. It doesn’t have to be about getting the job done,” she says.

Yesterday after the bombs went off, Perille immediately began tracking her people down, including Rachael Alldian. She’s the youngest and newest staff member. She was running the marathon and had yet to cross the finish line.

“As soon as I saw [the explosions], the next thought was I have to make sure Rachael is ok,” Perille said.

She fired off a text.

“Are you OK?”

Thirty long minutes later, Rachael replied.

“I’m OK. We were right there. Was anyone else there? Is everyone OK?”

Perille told everyone to avoid the chaos of rush hour and come in late today, and if that was too much – the office is just outside the 15-block crime scene – it was fine to work from home.

Perille says from EdVestors earliest days, back in 2002 when it had just two employees, Perille has tried to create an atmosphere where people are valued professionally and personally.

“I am responsible. I don’t think of it as being the boss. I think of it as being the leader. It is the leader’s job to set the tone. That’s the culture we have. And that’s what my team would expect from me,” she says.

Perille says keeping people informed and demonstrating her care is one way to make sure her employees give their best effort when it comes to their job helping to improve Boston public schools.

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