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Marine Corps veteran & entrepreneur to give lecture at Wilkes

Team Rubicon founder Jake Wood
Jake Wood, a social entrepreneur, veteran and author, will speak at Wilkes University on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Jake Wood hopes the audience leaves his upcoming lecture lecture empowered to create a culture that guides decisions in the absence of orders.

“That’s kind of the type of thing that … is what I think allows organizations to really thrive in moments of chaos, moments of crisis," he said. "It's the type of thing that separates average organizations from great organizations.”

Wood, a Marine Corps Veteran, entrepreneur and author, is the featured speaker during Wilkes University’s Allan P. Kirby Lecture Series in Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. His talk begins Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts on River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Wood is 39-year-old social entrepreneur who started the nonprofit Team Rubicon. The organization works with around 150,000 volunteers across the country to do post-disaster and post-crisis.

The organization is about 98% volunteer driven, he said.

Team Rubicon members who are usually military veterans and healthcare professionals go into disaster situations to help when the resources and capabilities of a local community are overwhelmed. Team Rubicon has responded to nearly 1,000 crises including the aftermath of natural disasters and infectious disease outbreaks. Team Rubicon members are currently providing medical services and training during the War in Ukraine.

He also started Groundswell. The software company provides employees an avenue for charitable giving that can be funded or matched by employers.

Immediately after graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Wood enlisted in the Marine Corps. He served for four years and planned on going back to school for his MBA. It was 2010 and an earthquake had just rocked Haiti. He organized a team of veterans and doctors to go down to Port-au-Prince, thinking it would be a one time thing.

“That effort really snowballed, and eventually just transitioned into this nonprofit that we set about full time to begin building with a goal to build the best disaster response organization in the world," he said Thursday during an interview with WVIA News.

During his service in the Marine Corps, Wood felt empowered to make critical decisions without higher level input, he said. That experience will be the focus of his conversation on Tuesday.

“You can't afford to slow the organization down to a pace where everybody's just waiting to be told what to do waiting to be told the right answer," he said. "You've got to empower people to make those decisions as close to the challenges as they can get.”

Wood says the lecture will feature a question and answer portion. He’s excited to dive-in and answer any questions the audience may have.

To register for the lecture, visit wilkes.edu/kirbylecture.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.