Shred the gnar, pay the bills.
Daniel Ross '90
Daniel Ross '90 is the executive director of the nonprofit agency Nuestras Raices (Our Roots). Located in the gritty city of Holyoke, Massachusetts, Nuestras Raices gave new life to the largely Puerto Rican community through a youth group, restaurant, bakery, catering business, sofrito sauce company, and community gardens. Ross became director at the tender age of 22 and, in eight years, pulled the agency from the brink of collapse into a thriving concern. The April 2008 issue of the Atlantic Monthly featured Nuestras Raices and Ross. Titled "A Papaya Grows in Holyoke," the article lauds the agency and calls it a "national model" of urban agriculture. Several months later, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation invited Nuestras Raices to apply to be part of a long-term initiative called Food and Fitness; Ross helped assemble a coalition of Holyoke groups that asked for a $500,000 planning grant. Nuestras Raices now includes a health center, a 30-acre farm one mile from downtown Holyoke, and a barn that will eventually house paso finos, a horse breed that is a source of Puerto Rican pride. Ross has also been named an Ashoka Fellow. According to its website: "A global organization, Ashoka supports those who share qualities traditionally associated with leading business entrepreneurs – vision, innovation, determination and long-term commitment – but are committed to systemic social change in their fields. Ashoka Fellows are recognized for their innovative solutions to some of society's most pressing social problems."