Caring, Collaboration, Connection, Cooperation


Carolyn Usinger, founder of Yes2Connect, has a 25+ year career defined by Caring, Collaboration, Connection, and Cooperation. After starting her career by identifying and foreclosing on "bad investments", she reversed her career, committing herself to helping people succeed, rather than handling their failures. She earned an MBA from UC Berkeley and created a public/private partnership with the California Chamber of Commerce, local chambers, and government agencies to provide a series of Business Start-Up Kits, to help businesses with the compliance nightmare of the 1980s and 1990s. The kits were produced by a disabled work center, reviewed and marketed by government agencies, and were customized and sold through local chambers.

Ms. Usinger became aware of businesses being heavily fined for mis-classifying independent contractors, and wrote a do's and don'ts guide for businesses based on hundreds of court cases (published by the California Chamber of Commerce).

She created an online and phone-based payroll system to eliminate the compliance burden for hiring employees, but found government agencies too entrenched in maintaining their separate divisions to consider collaboration. So, she launched Wells Fargo's online payroll system instead.

In 2007, she partnered with Kay Reynolds, Wells Fargo, and the California Association for Economic Development to create a comprehensive business support toolkit called Tools for Business Success. This toolkit builds as each community joins in, because resources found in one part of the country are shared with businesses in other participating communities. The result is that any size community can provide its businesses with a comprehensive business support toolkit, customized for their community.

Ms. Usinger's newest project, Yes2Connect, was inspired when she lost her home and home business in the Oakland East Bay firestorm. When smart phones became popular, she realized that they could transform disaster preparation and recovery.

Initially, she developed a disaster preparation, communication and recovery toolkit for businesses - because 40% of businesses never reopen after a major disaster. As she created this toolkit, she recognized how connecting families, government, businesses, and organizations in both good times and bad, could support small business, build community, and increase disaster resiliency.

"People talk about collaboration; FEMA recommends "Whole Community" for disaster preparedness and recovery; but implementing collaboration is much harder.

With Yes2Connect it is now EASY for anyone or any group to collaborate, cooperate, connect, and care for people in good times and bad."