Speakers: Bert Smith, CEO, Prison Entrepreneurship Program and PEP Graduate, Charles Hearne. Topic: "Rethinking Prison"
Bert Smith officially joined PEP as CEO in May 2010, and has been actively involved with PEP since 2005. He has served in a number of volunteer roles, including executive judge, Business Plan Advisor, teacher, mentor, donor and Chairman of the Houston Advisory Board.
In the 1980s Bert served as Director, General Counsel, and Head of Corporate Development for a family owned engineering company that built and operated independent power plants. After the sale of that company, Bert founded and led a group that developed proprietary alternative fuel and energy generation technologies. Prior to joining PEP as CEO, Bert was an early stage investor and CEO for a DVD kiosk rental business.
Bert serves on the Board of Directors for a family foundation, is the President of the Executives Association of Houston, is a member of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and has served as an active board member and volunteer with a number of other nonprofit organizations. He holds an AB in Economics from Princeton University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. He is married and has three adult children.
Charles Hearne is a class XVII graduate of PEP. He finished second in the Business Plan Competition and was voted “Mr. Excellence” by his classmates. He was released in May of 2013 in Dallas, Texas.
About three weeks after release, Charles began his role as Development Associate for the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. He served in that capacity for two years before being promoted to the rank of Executive Relations Manager - Houston. In addition, he manages Covington House, one of PEP’s transitional homes.
Charles is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in finance. He has been named to both the Honor’s List and the Dean’s List for his academic achievements. He has also recently been inducted into both the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) and Phi Theta Kappa.
Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) is a Houston-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. This organization has pioneered innovative programs that connect the nation’s top executives, entrepreneurs, and MBA students with convicted felons. The entrepreneurship boot camp and re-entry programs are proven solutions
for preventing recidivism, maximizing self-sufficiency and transforming broken lives.
to stimulate positive life transformation for executives and inmates, uniting them through entrepreneurial passion, education and mentoring.
The organization's success hinges on the execution of this mission and on the application of our core values.