Teresa Hodge is an entrepreneur and a formerly incarcerated business executive. She served prison time from 2006 to 2011 for mail fraud. While in prison, she came to appreciate how difficult it was for women in prison to return to their society.
She knew it would be quite easy for her to reintegrate into her society or community because of her skill set. However, she feared most of the women she met in prison were not skilled enough to do so.
“I sat in prison knowing that if I could just survive being in prison, that I had taken enough good skill sets, and if I could personally live past my own shame of going to prison, that I could come back and get back on my feet,” Hodge told Business Insider.
Most people in prison, particularly women, do not always have the support of their families, however, Hodge had her daughter Laurin Leonard by her side almost every time as she visited often. While serving time at Alderson Federal Prison Camp, she and her daughter started thinking about how to help people with conviction records. That inspired them to start the Baltimore-based nonprofit organization, Mission: Launch.
“What could have been a permanently debilitating time in our lives and something that could have served as a wedge to drive us apart, we were able to somehow turn that into an opportunity to grow closer,” said Hodge.
After serving her jail term, she started the nonprofit Mission: Launch to help former inmates. At the same time, Hodge and her daughter aimed to create a business accelerator to teach and develop entrepreneurship for former inmates. This led them to create the for-profit service, R3 Score.
“We did not know at the time how much you really needed to be either independently wealthy or connected to capital resources,” Hodge said as she realized that the challenge to starting a business will be getting access to capital. “And that actually set us on the journey of really trying to figure out how to unlock capital,” she said. “So we kind of continued down this pathway, and it was this pathway, ultimately, that led us to R3 Score.”
Hodge became president of the nonprofit while her daughter became CEO of R3 Score.
Although the two are centered on helping former inmates, they are now extending their product to assist millennials who are known to have lower credit scores due to spending behaviors.
Hodge’s good works have caught the attention of Aventiv Technologies and she was recently appointed by the tech company to serve as chair of its board, according to Michigan Chronicle.
Aventis Technologies is a “technology company empowering rehabilitative justice by pioneering the development and deployment of educational platforms as a rehabilitation tool for the incarcerated,” the outlet reported.
“I have committed myself to reduce the harm prison causes to individuals and their families, especially children,” said Hodge. “The fact is our prison system makes reentry incredibly difficult. I am pleased to play an impactful role in helping Aventiv use its place inside facilities to improve outcomes for justice-involved families and cement the foundation for systemic change. Once part of the problem, Aventiv is now part of the solution.”
She was also named by Forbes to its first-ever 2021 50 Over 50 list of women business executives and activists.