Coffee Break with Ed Falkenberg

Perhaps you know Greyston Bakery in Yonkers for its delicious confections, but for local residents, as well as the shop’s employees, the bakery is a lifesaver. Not only does it hire “hard to employ” individuals who otherwise would find themselves with no job or income, but its profits are directed to the 26-year-old Greyston Foundation, which provides much-needed childcare services, housing assistance, after-school programs, and HIV-related healthcare to local residents. Ed Falkenberg, a 69-year-old retired Scarsdale resident and former vice president, controller, and chief accounting officer of the Seagram Company, was recently appointed chairman of the board of the Foundation. We asked the chairman a few questions on a long coffee break (“dark, with no sugar”).

What makes for a good meeting? You have a good meeting when everyone is prepared. We distribute materials and an agenda beforehand. It’s nice if everyone has read it in advance.

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How do you keep a meeting short and efficient? By sticking to the agenda.

What makes someone a good manager, a good leader? The ability to listen, to be open-minded. And the ability to be practical. No studies of growing corn on Mars—people lose interest on that sort of thing.

Do you have to have deep pockets to become a board member? Not this one. There is, however, an expected funding participation.

Why this organizaton and not, say, Caramoor or, since you live in Scarsdale, the Autism Science Foundation? It has a wonderful cast to it. It’s for-profit. It brings people into the workforce that otherwise would struggle. The profits of the bakery go to fund many programs in Yonkers. Here you see the results, and you can meet with people who directly benefit from the activities of the foundation.

What does “social enterprise” mean to you? A way of getting people from the welfare doles and dependency into independence.

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What Greyston confection do you have with your coffee on your coffee breaks? Their great brownies!

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