Blane Fitzgerald Stoddart
Mr. Stoddart formerly served as Vice President of Business Development and Customer Care for Innova Services Corporation. Prior to that, Stoddart served as CEO of The Partnership CDC (Community Development Corporation) and its subsidiaries. Under his leadership, The CDC created over 114 new jobs, built 300 residential and commercial units, and invested close to $100 million dollars in West Philadelphia, directly west of the University of Pennsylvania.
Stoddart holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Economics and Marketing from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. He is a member of the Board Global Philadelphia, and Entrepreneur Works, and President of the Better Living Center in Chester, PA which provides a free computer lab and emergency food to residents in Chester. He was recently appointed by PA Governor Tom Wolf to the Governor’s Commission on African American Affairs. Stoddart is Co-Founder of the CEO Access Network at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and Founder of Young Caribbean Professional Network which supports young track and field athletes from five Caribbean nations to attend the Penn Relays in Philadelphia each year. He was named “One of 50 People to Watch” by Philadelphia Magazine; “10 Under 40” by the Philadelphia Tribune; and “40 Under 40” by the Philadelphia Business Journal, and was recently bestowed the Inaugural “Globy Award” by Global Philadelphia Association, for his efforts in making Philadelphia a more Global/International City.
Stoddart is a frequent speaker on urban economic development, and issues of Leadership in the 21st Century.
Describe a discovery you made as a Black man:
I think one of the surprising discoveries I’ve made is to not quit, even when the odds are against you. I think that Blacks in general are very resilient. The legacy of slavery in America lingers as an outside force, and as an internalized force in our communities – It’s like you’re running a marathon and your competitor breaks your leg at the start of the race and then asks, “What’s wrong with you?” as you’re hobbling along. Everyone knows you must run 26 miles but you’re insevere pain and bleeding all the way.
It is profound that we are figuratively, still running the race with a broken leg — and all the social ills are just a manifestation of that broken leg, but we are still in the race. That is surprising resiliency.
How do you push through your worst times?
I am grounded in God and Family, and so during the worst times I depend on the strength of others to see me through. I remember when we started BFW Group LLC, we lost all our life savings, and all our investor capital $500,000.00, because we could not secure any Clients for 2 full years
My brothers and my sister helped me pay the rent and helped me with food to the tune of $3,000.00 per month. That is when I really came to understand the importance of family. People in the Black Community think that we should put our kids through college and then send them out in the world to fend for themselves financially. Building wealth is intergenerational and so we need to look at how we can help our children and grandchildren buy real estate and investments for generations. That is how successful communities build wealth.
Describe a soul restoring story about Black family life and love?
My good story is my uncle, George, who is almost 91-years-old and has been married for close to 60 years to my Aunt Bernice. He recently had a stroke, but thank God, he has had no memory loss whatsoever. Here goes a man whom I can look up to, who’s working-class, not wealthy, but whose life has been an example of what a Black man can do and how a Black man can live. My grandfather, Cecil Stoddart, and my father, John Stoddart, both died at 54 from an aneurysm; and my uncle, Bobby Stoddart, died in his fifties from an aneurysm. My uncle George broke that aneurysm curse, and all his siblings (my uncles and aunts) have moved past 80 years old in relatively good health — that is why we are so proud of Uncle George Stoddart. Know your family history, even if it is only a couple of generations. It gives you both knowledge and pride.