On a Personal Note: Leading Forward

May 13, 2024 | By

Fay Horwitt, President & CEO of Forward Cities

Forward Cities was founded in 2014 with the belief that every entrepreneur deserves an equitable chance to launch and grow a business that generates wealth for themselves, their families, and their communities. From a fractal lens, we have always embraced change as an essential ingredient in our recipe for success. Not change for the sake of change, but as a natural outgrowth of continuous improvement and a growth mindset. It is in that spirit - as well as with a blend of both poignant reflection and excitement - that I share a pivotal personal moment of change. In the coming months, I will be moving forward from the role of President & CEO to the newly minted position of Chief Program Officer. 

This transition allows me to dive deep into the heart of our programmatic work, focusing on thought leadership, strategic network design, leading our program team, and developing and executing strategies that not only meet but exceed our ambitious goals. This isn't about stepping back; it's about leaning into where I can make the biggest difference - enhancing our programs, and by extension, our impact. As I am poised to transition into my new role, it feels important to reflect a bit on how I/we got here. The journey has been rich with learning, growth, and, most importantly, the contributions of incredibly passionate and hardworking individuals.

Two seated women engaged in discussionI cannot express enough gratitude for our team members, past and present, whose dedication and ingenuity have been the lifeblood of Forward Cities - including, but not limited to our Fractional CFO, Kasem Rodriguez Mohsen. To each of you who have poured your hearts and minds into this work, your impact resonates in every community we've touched, in every initiative we've launched, and in every success we've celebrated. Your commitment to our mission has not only propelled us forward but has also inspired me daily. As some of you have moved on to new challenges, your legacy remains. We also could not have gotten to this point without the generous support of all our funders, particularly those who have partnered with us to sustain our core, multi-year programs.

A special note of thanks must also be extended to our board - and officers - whose leadership, wisdom, and unwavering support have been instrumental in guiding Forward Cities through both its triumphs and its trials. I am extremely grateful, in particular, for your commitment to amplifying and honoring my leadership as a Black woman. The most recent iteration of our board has been nothing short of phenomenal, providing the strategic oversight and encouragement needed to dream bigger and reach further. Their collective belief in our mission, in my vision, and in the potential of every community to flourish is a constant source of motivation. In this moment, I am also very appreciative for their honoring of my desire to lean into my highest value for the organization and to ensure a more sustainable balance of work and life.

A large group standing on stairs

Over the past three years, under my stewardship as President & CEO - and in collaboration with our amazing team - Forward Cities has emerged as a leader within the field of equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem development. In that time, we have piloted a diverse slate of programs within and across communities, learned, failed, pivoted and succeeded - always moving forward with the belief that every community holds the potential for greatness. All along the way, I have been extremely proud of the way we have listened to, assessed, and responded to the needs of the field. That approach now prompts us to lean more intentionally into racial equity and to prioritize building action learning networks. This new phase of our journey calls for a new constellation of leadership - and I am excited about the opportunity to dive deep into the development of our new programmatic strategy.

This month, we're launching a search for a new Chief Executive Officer - a visionary leader who can guide Forward Cities through its next growth phase. That person will focus on scaling our reach, refining our operations, developing our team, and bolstering our funding strategies to ensure that Forward Cities not only survives, but thrives. This isn't just about finding someone to fill a role; it's about finding a partner in our mission, someone who shares our passion for equitable economic development and has the skills to amplify our vision and impact.

This transition represents an exciting evolution for Forward Cities. It's a strategic shift designed to leverage our strengths and realize our potential for growth with precision and intentionality. It's a reflection of our commitment to our mission and to the communities we serve, ensuring that as we grow, we remain agile, focused, and effective.

We invite our community of stakeholders, funders, partners, and supporters to join us in this new chapter. Your belief in our work fuels our progress, and we can achieve even greater things together. 


Could you potentially know or be  Forward Cities' next CEO?



Fay Horwitt
President & CEO, Forward Cities

Fay serves as the President & CEO of Forward Cities, where she oversees organizational strategy. In addition, Fay is a dedicated advocate for the emerging profession of ecosystem building, and as a founding member of Ecosystems Unite. Beyond her formal roles, she is a sought after presenter, trainer, and thought leader on the topic of equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem building. Never one to be content with status quo, Fay has also recently begun addressing a new need in local communities: ecosystem healing–helping pivot ecosystems and institutions in this time of the dual COVID-19 and systemic racial injustice pandemics.