9:45-10:00 AM

Welcome Remarks

Sandra Navalli ’03BUS, OAM

Sandra Navalli ’03BUS, OAM
Managing Director of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise and Assistant Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School

Sandra Navalli is the managing director of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia University. The center trains the next generation of leaders to address social and environmental challenges, by supporting the creation and communication of new ideas, and by providing curricular and extra-curricular opportunities for students. Focus areas include social entrepreneurship, international development and emerging markets, public and nonprofit management, corporate responsibility and sustainability. Under the center, the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures provides seed grants to nonprofit, for-profit, or hybrid early-stage social and environmental ventures. Sandra has over a decade of experience in the social impact field, and previously worked in business and product development for an education technology social venture, management consulting, microeconomic policy, and in corporate law. She received an MBA from Columbia Business School and honors degrees in economics and in law from the Australian National University.

Managing Director of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise and Assistant Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School

10:00-10:50 AM

Capital for Justice: Using Impact Investing for Racial Equity

Sources of Capital

Only three percent of all venture funding goes to Black and Latinx founders as venture capital investments have quadrupled and the growth of diverse businesses has skyrocketed. The disparities of who is receiving and cutting the checks have long been known in the space. However, the murder of George Floyd and the impacts of a global pandemic on marginalized communities have brought to the forefront the persistent problems of racial and economic inequities that exist across America and in many countries.

How can the flow of social impact capital from asset holders to Black and underrepresented founders and entrepreneurs be accelerated to generate systemic solutions to create diverse, equitable, and inclusive economies? Can impact investing be more effectively used as a tool to generate economic opportunity and mobility for Black and marginalized communities?

Watch the recording →

Melissa Bradley

Melissa Bradley
Founder of 1863 Ventures and Co-founder of Ureeka

Melissa L. Bradley is a co-founder of venture-backed Ureeka, a community where small businesses gain unprecedented access to the expertise needed to grow their business. The Ureeka mission is to democratize economic opportunity by enabling community and by reducing the cost and risk associated with growing a small to medium business (SMB). She is also founder and managing partner of 1863 Ventures, a business development program that accelerates New Majority entrepreneurs from high potential to high growth. In this role, she created a community of over 10,000 New Majority entrepreneurs in three years. Melissa is a venture partner at NextGen Ventures and serves as an advisor to the New Voices Foundation and New Voices Fund, as well as the Halcyon Fund. She is also a member of the Square & Forbes Small Business Advisory Team, as well as the Target Accelerators Entrepreneurs Advisory Council. Melissa is the former co-chair of the National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and was recently named one of The Most Entrepreneurial Women Investors in 2018.

Melissa is a professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, where she teaches impact investing, social entrepreneurship, P2P economies, and innovation. She recently received The Ideas Worth Teaching Award, which celebrates exceptional courses that are preparing future business leaders to tackle society’s largest challenges and create a more inclusive, just, and sustainable version of capitalism. She is also a co-founder and managing partner of Sidecar Social Finance, a social impact agency that provides impact investing advisory and capital services to individuals, institutions, and social enterprises.

Melissa currently serves as board chair for My Way to Credit (MWTC) and board member for AEO. She is a founding advisor to the Dell Center for Entrepreneurs as well as a Senator with the Board of Governors at Georgetown University.

Melissa's educational background includes graduation from Georgetown University in 1989 with a bachelor of science degree in finance from the business school and a master’s degree in business administration in marketing from American University in 1993.

Founder of 1863 Ventures and Co-founder of Ureeka

Kesha Cash ’10BUS

Kesha Cash ’10BUS
Founder and General Partner of Impact America Fund

Kesha Cash is the general partner of Impact America Fund, a $65M venture capital firm investing in tech-enabled companies that create economic opportunities for low- to moderate-income communities of color in America. The firm puts a premium on founders who have personal experience in the systems their startups want to disrupt, from black hair care to small business loans.

She has a decade of experience in impact investing, previously at Jalia Ventures, a fund that she co-founded with Josh Mailman to invest in mission-driven entrepreneurs of color, and as an investment associate at Bridges Ventures in the UK. Kesha has also worked as an operational consultant to small businesses in inner-city Los Angeles and as a mergers and acquisitions analyst at Merrill Lynch.

Kesha currently serves on the board of directors of Eileen Fisher, Inc. and is an elected member of the SEC Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee. She received her MBA from Columbia Business School and her BA in applied mathematics from UC Berkeley.

Founder and General Partner of Impact America Fund

Jenny Tolan ’14BUS

Jenny Tolan ’14BUS
Co-founder at Level

Jenny Tolan is the co-founder of Level, a multiracial professional women’s network focused on investing in Black women entrepreneurs. Jenny has devoted her career to working across education and social justice, most recently as deputy director of exalt youth, a criminal justice organization. Prior to exalt, Jenny spent five years as the product marketing lead for the Google for Education team worldwide. Before Google, Jenny worked in education and global development, including at the Global Fund for Children in DC and India, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica, and as a 5th grade math teacher at a KIPP charter school in Brooklyn through Teach for America. Jenny has a BA in international relations and Spanish from Stanford and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Co-founder at Level

10:50-11:00 AM

Coffee Break

11:00-11:50 AM

The .06%: Founding and Fundraising as Women of Color

Uses of Capital

According to ProjectDiane 2018, less than .06 percent of the $424.7 billion in venture funding since 2009 went to Black women. In light of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black and brown communities and the renewed focus on the Movement for Black Lives, how has the founding and fundraising environment for Black, Indigenous, Women of Color (BIWOC) CEOs changed? What challenges do BIWOC founders face and how has this changed due to the pandemic and recent social unrest?

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Kiara Butler

Kiara Butler
CEO and Founder of Diversity Talks

Kiara Butler is the CEO and founder of Diversity Talks, a Rhode Island-based training company that specializes in providing student-led professional development grounded in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Butler is a strong advocate for student voice and in her current work, she focuses on bringing the voices of marginalized groups to the forefront. Because of her advocacy, she has been recognized for her work in various capacities such as Forbes 30 Under 30 and TEDxProvidence.

Originally from Mississippi — a state known for biases, bigotry, and racism — Butler is a graduate of the state’s K12 public education system. When a K12 student in Mississippi, she did not believe educators were aware that the lack of inclusivity of all races, religions, and cultures had a connection between students feeling marginalized and low student performance. Today, her experiences as a student remain the driving force behind her commitment as a change agent transforming K12 public education.

Butler has obtained a BA in interdisciplinary career-oriented humanities with an emphasis in African American studies from the prestigious Tougaloo College and became a member of the Gamma Psi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Butler also holds a master's in public administration from Belhaven University. In 2021, Butler will have obtained a doctorate in educational leadership from Johnson & Wales University.

CEO and Founder of Diversity Talks

Amanda DoAmaral

Amanda DoAmaral
Founder and CEO of Fiveable

Amanda DoAmaral is an educator, activist, and the founder of Fiveable, a social learning network for students. She spent half of a decade teaching high school history in Oakland, CA, where her passion for creating equitable educational opportunities was ignited. Amanda has been a vocal advocate for inclusive history curriculum and is active within the Milwaukee tech community.

Founder and CEO of Fiveable

Shani Dowell

Shani Dowell
Founder and CEO of Possip

Shani Dowell is the founder and CEO of Possip. A product of Houston public schools and a public school teacher and parent, Shani loves supporting the work of schools. She started her career as a consultant at Bain & Co. and helped launch the Boston office of the Posse Foundation, a nonprofit that works to increase student retention and engagement on college campuses. She has also worked for Houston Independent School District, KIPP Foundation (a national network of charter schools), Teach For America, Bridgespan Group, and Relay Graduate School of Education. Shani earned her BA at Howard University in Washington, DC, and her MBA at Stanford University. In the last year, her company, Possip, has made over 7,000 recommendations for action for school leaders while conducting and analyzing pulse checks from over 300,000 parents in 100+ languages for 600 schools across more than 20 states.

Founder and CEO of Possip

Beverly Leon ’20BUS ’14CC

Beverly Leon ’20BUS ’14CC
Founder and CEO of Local Civics

Beverly is a recent graduate of Columbia Business School, where she focused on social entrepreneurship and worked to launch Local Civics, an edtech company transforming civics education. As the founder and CEO of Local Civics, she supports students and educators in building their civic engagement and community leadership skills through game-based learning. They have worked with 1,500+ middle and high school students in New York City and are working to expand this impact to reach more students.

Beverly started her professional career in equity capital markets at Morgan Stanley in New York City and left to pursue professional soccer overseas in Europe. She signed her first professional contract in Iceland, for Champions League team, Stjarnan Kvk. From there, she went on to play for AC ChievoVerona in Italy and signed with Sunderland Ladies AFC in the English Premier League for her final season. Beverly has over 10 years of experience as a youth educator and coach, serving as a program coordinator for Level the Field NYC and a teaching fellow for Columbia University’s ‘Freedom and Citizenship’ Civics Education Program, two nonprofits working to provide equitable access to higher education for students from underserved communities. She serves as an advisor to Coaches Across Continents, a global nonprofit that uses sport for social impact, and is an instructor for Columbia University's Entrepreneurial Design Thinking Program, serving the broader New York City community. She received her BA in history from Columbia University and an MSc in social policy from the University of Oxford.

Founder and CEO of Local Civics

Aaron T. Walker

Aaron T. Walker
Founder and CEO of Camelback Ventures

Aaron is on a journey to live in the spirit of his baseball hero, Jackie Robinson, who said “a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” With this ethos, Aaron taught ninth grade english in West Philadelphia, put together deals for companies large and small as a lawyer, and supported new ideas to improve education as a portfolio director for the NYC Fund for Public Schools. Aaron is humbled to say that he graduated from the University of Virginia and Penn Law School. He also knows that this doesn’t entitle him to anything and is ready to earn his keep.

Founder and CEO of Camelback Ventures

11:50 AM-12:00 PM

Coffee Break

12:00-12:50 PM

Book Talk, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope

Join this session for a live virtual conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn, who will discuss a new book and film, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, which explores solutions for the systemic inequality facing America’s hometowns.

With stark poignancy and political dispassion, Tightrope addresses the crisis in working-class America while focusing on solutions to mend a half-century of governmental failure. Drawing us deep into an “other America,” the authors tell this story, in part, through the lives of some of the people with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Yamhill, Oregon. It’s an area that prospered for much of the twentieth century but has been devastated in the last few decades as blue-collar jobs disappeared. About a quarter of the children on Kristof’s old school bus died in adulthood from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents. While these particular stories unfolded in one corner of the country, they are representative of many places the authors write about, ranging from the Dakotas and Oklahoma to New York and Virginia. With their superb, nuanced reportage, Kristof and WuDunn have given us a book that is both riveting and impossible to ignore.

Purchase the book from a local bookstore:
Bronx River Books
(914) 420-6396
https://www.bronxriverbooks.com/book/9780525564171

Watch the recording →

Sheryl WuDunn

Sheryl WuDunn
Author and Journalist

Sheryl WuDunn, the first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize, is a business executive and best-selling author. She co-founded FullSky Partners, a consulting firm focusing on double-bottom line ventures in technology and healthcare services. She is also a principal in Praesens Partners USA, a firm focused on diagnostics.

Previously, WuDunn has been vice president in the investment management division at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and a commercial loan officer at Bankers Trust. She also is one of a small handful of people who have worked at The New York Times both as an executive and journalist: in management roles in both the Strategic Planning and Circulation Sales departments at The Times; as editor for international markets, energy, and industry; as The Times’s first anchor of an evening news headlines program for a digital cable TV channel, the Discovery-Times; and as a foreign correspondent for The Times in Tokyo and Beijing, where she wrote about economic, financial, political, and social issues. She has been a Hauser Visiting Leader at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she has lectured and taught seminars to graduate students. She has also co-taught at Yale University and guest lectured at many universities.

With her husband, Nicholas D. Kristof, she is co-author of five best-selling books. These include Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope (2020), which will air as a PBS documentary in October; A Path Appears, about how to bring about change in our society using evidence-based strategies; Half the Sky, a number one New York Times best-selling book about the challenges facing women around the globe; Thunder from the East about Asia, and China Wakes, about China’s challenges.

Ms. WuDunn won a Pulitzer Prize with her husband for covering China, along with the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement. She has also won other journalism prizes, including the George Polk Award and Overseas Press Club award. WuDunn has also won a White House Project EPIC award, and she has been a judge for the State Department “Secretary’s Innovation Award for Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment.” She has won other awards, including the Asia Women in Business Corporate Leadership Award, the Pearl S. Buck Woman of the Year Award, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Prize, among numerous others.

In 2011, Newsweek cited WuDunn as one of the “150 Women Who Shake the World.” In 2012, WuDunn was selected as one of 60 notable members of the League of Extraordinary Women by Fast Company magazine. In 2013, she was included as one of the “leading women who make America” in the PBS documentary, The Makers. She was also featured in a 2013 Harvard Business School film about prominent women who graduated from HBS. In August 2015, Business Insider named her one of the 31 most successful graduates of the Harvard Business School.

She graduated from Cornell University, earned an MPA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She has served on the board of trustees at Cornell University and Princeton University.

Ms. WuDunn received honorary doctorates from the University of Pennsylvania and Middlebury College. Ms. WuDunn lectures on economic, political, and social topics related to women in the developing world, the global economy, China, and the emerging markets, and has been asked to address a wide range of audiences including former Vice President Al Gore, the IMF, and World Bank. Ms. WuDunn has discussed China, economic issues, and her books on television and radio programs, with hosts such as Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Colbert, and on other news programs such as Meet the Press, Fox Business News, Bloomberg TV, and NPR.

Author and Journalist

Bruce Usher

Bruce Usher
Co-director of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise; Elizabeth B. Strickler '86 and Mark T. Gallogly '86 Faculty Director; and Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Business School

Bruce Usher is a Professor of Professional Practice and the Elizabeth B. Strickler '86 and Mark T. Gallogly '86 Faculty Director of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School. Professor Usher teaches on the intersection of finance, social and environmental issues, and is a recipient of the Singhvi Prize for Scholarship in the Classroom, the Lear Award, and the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

Professor Usher has written numerous cases for use in business school courses, with a primary focus on climate change and business. In 2019, Usher published Renewable Energy: A Primer for the Twenty-First Century (Columbia University Press), the first in the Earth Institute’s sustainability series of books.

Prior to his work at Columbia, Professor Usher was CEO of EcoSecurities Group plc, which developed greenhouse gas emission reduction projects in developing countries. EcoSecurities was acquired by JP Morgan in 2009. Professor Usher was previously the co-founder and CEO of TreasuryConnect LLC, which provided electronic trading solutions to banks and was acquired in 2001. Prior to that, he worked in financial services for twelve years in New York and Tokyo. Professor Usher is an active investor and advisor to entrepreneurial ventures focused on climate change and clean energy (UsherWorks.com). He is a board member of Community Energy, OptiRTC, and CapShift, and is Chair of the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures. Usher earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Co-director of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise; Elizabeth B. Strickler ’86 and Mark T. Gallogly ’86 Faculty Director; and Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Business School

12:50-1:00 PM

Closing Remarks

Bruce Usher

Bruce Usher
Co-director of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise; Elizabeth B. Strickler '86 and Mark T. Gallogly '86 Faculty Director; and Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Business School

Bruce Usher is a Professor of Professional Practice and the Elizabeth B. Strickler '86 and Mark T. Gallogly '86 Faculty Director of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School. Professor Usher teaches on the intersection of finance, social and environmental issues, and is a recipient of the Singhvi Prize for Scholarship in the Classroom, the Lear Award, and the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

Professor Usher has written numerous cases for use in business school courses, with a primary focus on climate change and business. In 2019, Usher published Renewable Energy: A Primer for the Twenty-First Century (Columbia University Press), the first in the Earth Institute’s sustainability series of books.

Prior to his work at Columbia, Professor Usher was CEO of EcoSecurities Group plc, which developed greenhouse gas emission reduction projects in developing countries. EcoSecurities was acquired by JP Morgan in 2009. Professor Usher was previously the co-founder and CEO of TreasuryConnect LLC, which provided electronic trading solutions to banks and was acquired in 2001. Prior to that, he worked in financial services for twelve years in New York and Tokyo. Professor Usher is an active investor and advisor to entrepreneurial ventures focused on climate change and clean energy (UsherWorks.com). He is a board member of Community Energy, OptiRTC, and CapShift, and is Chair of the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures. Usher earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Co-director of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise; Elizabeth B. Strickler ’86 and Mark T. Gallogly ’86 Faculty Director; and Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Business School