Success Story

Dare to Disrupt Episode 14: Empowering Underserved Communities with Former NFL Player Garry Gilliam

Garry Gilliam is the Founder and CEO of The Bridge Eco-Village, a sustainable, mixed-use community ecosystem in Harrisburg, PA. The Bridge Eco-Village will feature solutions to many of the problems facing underserved communities: housing, retail, co-working spaces, education opportunities, entrepreneurship incubators, urban agriculture, sports, and entertainment. Prior to launching the Bridge, Garry played in the NFL for five seasons for the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. He graduated from Penn State in 2013 with degrees in business development, psychology, and advertising.

In this episode, Garry talks about how his adverse childhood growing up in Harrisburg, PA inspired him to eventually start The Bridge Eco-Village. He talks about his unique experience attending tuition-free private boarding school Milton Hershey School, as well as how the town of Hershey would eventually act as a blueprint for the Bridge Eco-Village model. Garry shares how, after facing a life-threatening injury while playing football at Penn State, he persevered to eventually join the Seattle Seahawks as an offensive tackle. He retired after 5 seasons and launched The Bridge Eco-Village.

“So what The Bridge does, is acquire properties like schools, malls, warehouses, shopping centers, or just land and convert them into these 15 minute cities, a mixed used eco-village,” said Gilliam. “Our eco-villages have spaces to work, eat, live, learn, and play – a mini version of Milton Hershey and Hershey, Pennsylvania.”

At the end of the episode, Carlton Jarmon, a fourth-year student in a five-year Bachelor’s and Master’s accounting program joins the conversation. He was the co-founder of Schizophren-AI, a software to decrease the frequency of misdiagnoses of severe mental health concerns. Carlton, a fellow Milton Hershey School alumnus, talks to Garry about his experience transitioning from MHS to college, as well as about how his identity has shifted over the years.

About Garry Gilliam

Garry Gilliam is the Founder and CEO of The Bridge Eco-Village, a sustainable, mixed-use community ecosystem in Harrisburg, PA. He graduated from Penn State in 2013 with degrees in business development, psychology, and advertising.

Download the full episode transcript

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Dare to Disrupt is a podcast about Penn State alumni who are innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders, and the stories behind their success. Learn more.