Keith Zendler, Founder and CEO of PeopleMovers, founder of RecycleMax, Inc.
“Our API will soon allow third-party civic tech, organizational and personal growth apps to seamlessly interconnect, creating a comprehensive ecosystem for making things better.”
Meet Keith Zendler. Keith Zendler grew up in Detroit, Michigan and has been a life-long social entrepreneur committed to developing organizations and businesses that provide for the overall good of our world. In addition to being the founder and CEO of PeopleMovers.com, he is the founder of RecycleMax, Inc., which has been a provider of corporate recycling and waste disposal services since 1995. Keith is also the founder of Dearborn-based Environmental Services of North America, Inc. (ESNA), and a provider of environmental and facility management services that specializes in supporting local small businesses. He has been active in community development circles since 1995 as a leader, board member, and volunteer. You can follow Keith on Twitter.
What Does He Do?
Keith is the founder and CEO of PeopleMovers which he describes as “a new global platform for building strong communities and a better world.”
The Detroit-based PeopleMovers is in the process of moving to New York City: “It’s a difficult decision. But, I look at this as a global mission and believe no matter where I am in the world I can benefit Detroit — connecting leaders, orgs, and resources.”
How Did He Get Into This Work?
Keith was a pioneer in creating recycling programs. In the process of saving the world from its garbage, he came to recognize that helping the world work together was his true calling:
“Detroit is a very ethnically diverse area, but we tend to be in isolated pockets. Because the Detroit area grew so rapidly during the auto boom, you have a lot of groups who settled here but are spread across different areas – a problem in Detroit over the past 100 years. These divisions have led to poor social capital — meaning we don’t work together very well — leading to racial and economic challenges.”
Around 2012, as the city of Detroit was confronting its bankruptcy, there was a turnover in government and the new comms department, perhaps trying to pinch every penny, “unplugged” PeopleMovers. Keith shifted focus. He had a significant other in the Puna region of India and local community leaders there saw his value both as a leader in recycling and how PeopleMovers might facilitate greater cooperation among their local business. An initial meeting with a Parliament leader led to work with the Consul General in NY – helping organize trade missions between India, Michigan, and New York. Keith realized that there were amazing opportunities in the developing world, “that’s where the heat is.” Keith was determined to reenergize PeopleMovers, but from that time forward, with a global focus.
What Project(s) Is He Working On?
Keith is excited to be relaunching PeopleMovers.com this October. He first launched the company back in 2007 and has been self-funding by gradually selling off his recycling interests. The network aspires to be a user-friendly platform for cities, governments, nonprofits, foundations, companies, schools and universities to engage their stakeholders and work together.
Keith adds, “Our API will soon allow third-party civic tech, organizational and personal growth apps to seamlessly interconnect, creating a comprehensive ecosystem for making things better.”
How Did S/he Come to Civic Hall?
Keith and Sabah Akhtar, PeopleMovers’ Community Relations Manager, had been meeting leaders in preparation for a move to NYC this year. In March, they went to a Meetup that featured Peter Shanley speaking about Civic Hall and immediately knew this was the perfect organization for PeopleMovers to connect with.
“As the PeopleMovers mission is to help facilitate better communication and collaboration between leaders and organizations, what better place could there be than Civic Hall?”
What is His Ask of the Civic Hall Community?
“We want to make NYC a model for civic communication and collaboration so join our network and start sharing what your company or organization is doing. Help us connect to the nonprofits, institutions and governmental agencies of New York.”
As PeopleMovers grows in its new New York home, Keith is looking for introductions to nonprofits, institutions and governmental agencies. He adds that PeopleMovers would be especially grateful for any help connecting to Angels and VC’s.
PeopleMovers has two upcoming events: On September 28th they will host a “Lunch and Learn” — where they will introduce their network and are seeking UX feedback from members. PeopleMovers will launch its website on October 24th with programming at Civic Hall. Watch for the announcement!