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Championing Equity in the Green Transition: Dr. Kala Fleming's Journey with Frontline Gig

March 23, 2024
Authored by Emmanuel Mammah, Senior Digital Campaigner


As Women's History Month comes to a close, we find ourselves not only reflecting on the remarkable achievements of the past but also looking forward to the future. In a world facing the urgent challenges of climate change, a new generation of visionary women leaders is emerging, taking bold action to create a more sustainable and equitable society for all.

Among these remarkable individuals is Dr. Kala Fleming, a member of our Dream Entrepreneurs Network and the driving force behind her company, Frontline Gig. Through her innovative platform, Dr. Fleming is transforming the way people access green jobs and training opportunities, breaking down barriers and ensuring that everyone has the chance to contribute to the green transition while building meaningful careers.

We had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Fleming to learn more about her journey, her groundbreaking work with Frontline Gig, and her vision for a more inclusive and sustainable future.

Can you tell us about your professional journey and what inspired you to create Frontline Gig?

"Let's see. Frontline Gig is a workforce development platform that uses AI and hourly gigs to connect entry level and blue collar talent to the green economy. We have unprecedented climate funding coming that is bringing on stream a lot of newer, smaller infrastructure. That infrastructure presents a big opportunity for many more individuals who haven't previously been part of the climate discussion to get a chance to get in.

My specific focus is on the people who don't even think that this opportunity is for them. It's often those individuals who live in underserved communities that are the most impacted by climate. So there's an environmental justice perspective - how do you allow people in these communities to see that here are some new opportunities for financial resilience?"

How does your work with Frontline Gig contribute to building a more sustainable and equitable future?

"The idea is that we're creating exposures to this array of opportunities in a compelling way. Those initial exposures allow individuals to figure out - do I like this? Is this interesting? Does this make money? You get a taste, but you're not locked in.

The next step, once you figure out you like it, is that you can get connected to options for a career path. We partner with training programs and employers who have entry level openings. The idea is that connection reduces the time it takes to progress on your journey."

As a woman in leadership, what challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them?

"Frontline Gig is a tech startup, so you've heard the statistics for female founders and fundraising. Whether it's the market or the nuances of the fundraising game, in general one of our realities is that it's taken longer to get that big round.

Separately, it's been awesome that we've had a ton of support, especially from organizations like Dream.Org. I think as a first-time founder, being able to efficiently navigate the startup waters - there are so many things I wish I had known sooner to do this faster. Having the comfortability and momentum to take the leap from the corporate world to the discomfort of being a startup founder was also a challenge I had to overcome."

What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs and innovators, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds?

"I think having clarity about what you really want to undertake and go fight for is important. The other thing is figuring out where you fit and who your people are. Your biggest asset is your story and you need others who get it and can help you amplify and share that. Find your tribe as fast as possible once you've committed to the work.

If you get those two things right, it makes the other typical startup challenges easier. When there is struggle, you can remind yourself who you're fighting for. And you can rely on the tribe you built to smooth over the rougher patches."

What experiences motivated you to start this company?

"My background is as a civil engineer and I also have experience in software development and AI from working at IBM. The striking difference between the two is the speed at which you can build something and spark change.

I also worked on a project in Jamaica to bring piped water to rural communities for the first time in 20 years. We trained local young people to do water audits and gain plumbing skills. It worked remarkably well to engage the community. But the administrative side, like payments and recruiting, took more time than needed.

Knowing this community engagement model could work, combined with seeing the power of software to move quickly, were two key inflection points that made it easy to envision what became Frontline Gig. Doing it again but without the administrative burden through a gig economy approach."

What is your vision for the future of workforce development and sustainable practices, and how can organizations like Dream.Org support this vision?

"We want to connect millions to work in their communities and to opportunity more broadly. Demonstrating and assessing economic mobility is key. Having more accountability around who is putting in and maintaining the solutions to environmental challenges. And more space for small businesses to thrive in this green infrastructure boom.

With Dream.Org, the national presence and mission alignment with what we're focused on is so valuable. The groundwork to tackle environmental justice issues and support workers is something we want to build on. This week, because of Dream.org's advocacy legwork, we were in the room with Congressional staffers having real-time conversations. The Dream Entrepreneur Network platform is helping us build much larger partnerships faster than we could do alone."

Dr. Kala Fleming's work is a powerful example of how inclusive innovation can drive positive change and create a more equitable future for all. By providing accessible pathways to green jobs and training, she is ensuring that the benefits of the green transition are shared by everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances.

As Women's History Month draws to a close, we at Dream.Org are proud to support leaders like Dr. Fleming who are not only making history but also shaping our future. Let us celebrate and uplift the countless women who, like Dr. Fleming, are working tirelessly to build a better world for us all.

To learn more about the Dream Entrepreneurs Network and how you can support innovators like Dr. Fleming, visit our landing page here.

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