Mossier Social Action and Innovation Center prides itself on the LGBTQ+ work they do. Mossier is a social enterprise consultancy that helps Minnesota employers develop LGBTQ+ inclusive workplaces and grants profits to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs around the world. All the work Mossier does today started with their namesake: Kevin J. Mossier, a visionary and social entrepreneur.
It was 1982 and Kevin had earned a vacation. Tropical breezes and sandy cocktails seemed fitting for a vacation, so Kevin and his partner headed to Key West, Florida. At the time, Key West was a culturally understood “safe” place for gay men to vacation at. But, while there, Kevin and his partner faced discrimination as a gay couple. Their trust in Key West as a safe space for gay men was broken. To combat that, Kevin founded RSVP Vacations, a tourism business that put the safety of LGBTQ+ folks at the forefront. Kevin ensured safe vacations for folks, and because of that, he also created opportunities for visibility in the places they vacationed. When cruise ships full of LGBTQ+ folks would dock, they would enter local communities, boost their business and expose them to the LGBTQ+ community. It was a win-win.
Sadly, in 1996 Kevin passed away due to complications with AIDS. From all of his success, his money was put into the Kevin J. Mossier Foundation which provided scholarships, grants, and funding to LGBTQ+ movements and advancements.
The question then was, who was to manage the foundation? Kevin’s good friend, Charlie Rounds, was the answer. When Kevin passed, Charlie was chosen to help manage the Kevin J. Mossier Foundation as a trustee.
This is where Nick Alm, current Executive Director of Mossier, enters. In the summer of 2016, Nick, while in business school at the University of Minnesota, accepted an internship at Conlego Consulting. It was at Conlego that Nick and Charlie first crossed paths. Nick worked with Charlie on securing funding for LGBTQ+ businesses in East Africa. For six months, the two men interviewed LGBTQ+ activists, learning about what was needed to ensure this project’s success. From these conversations, Nick and Charlie learned that the LGBTQ+ community members needed employment.
In order to support creating employment for LGBTQ+ people around the world, Nick and Charlie wanted to create an organization that focused on funding jobs and opportunities for LGBTQ+ folks across the world. To do this, they acquired a grant for the last sum of money from the Kevin Mossier Foundation. Nick and Charlie found it fitting for the non-profit to be named after Kevin, because of all the work he did to support LGBTQ+ people locally, nationally, globally, and the legacy he left. The duo then filed to own the Mossier name in January 2017. Shortly after that Mossier launched its own website, with a mission statement of “Investing in LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs Across Borders.”
Nick graduated in January 2018 and became Mossier’s full-time Executive Director. Now the head of an incorporated organization committed to global employment equity for LGBTQ+ folks, Nick needed to find willing partners to fund the work Mossier sought to do. Two factors hindered this: Companies lacked confidence in Mossier due to their small size, and LGBTQ+ conversations were centered on gaining rights, and not entrepreneurship.
Even with these complications, Nick continued reaching out to businesses, hoping willing partners would emerge. Out of this search, he found that these businesses had little to no information on their staff’s involvement in the LGBTQ+ community. Nick realized that there was local work to be done, not just global.
This is where the consulting side of Mossier was born. Nick used his research to show companies why they not only wanted, but needed LGBTQ+ talent in their workplaces, and the benefits of hiring LGBTQ+ folks. This became Mossier’s second mission: creating local, inclusive workplaces.
Mossier combined their missions to create revenue that they could then reinvest into LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs globally. Since then, Mossier has grown to support 10 different businesses globally. Most of which are based on agriculture and tourism, and all of which afford employment and a subsequent livelihood to LGBTQ+ folks abroad.
Mossier’s most recent project is the third annual Proud to Work MN 2020. This year’s theme centers on LGBTQ+ talent acquisition and retention. In the past, Proud to Work has been a one-day conference, but this year Mossier is changing it up. Proud to Work MN 2020 is a two-day event, with a career fair following the conference. The conference will focus on creating conversations about inclusive workplace culture, policies, and practices. The second day features Minnesota’s first state-wide LGBTQ+ career fair. Companies will be able to connect to LGBTQ+ talent looking for inclusive employers.
Proud to Work MN 2020 is a product of the culmination of the work Kevin and Charlie have done, and the work Nick continues to do. Without Mossier’s unique conception and history, Proud to Work 2020 wouldn’t be what it is today.