The Next Chapter
Today I have some exciting news to share with the Venture for America community.
After 6 amazing years as the leader of this incredible organization, I am stepping down as CEO of Venture for America on September 1st of this year. I will be succeeded by Amy Nelson, who has been Managing Director and the day-to-day leader of VFA for the past two years. Amy is a tremendous leader and phenomenal person and I have no doubt that Venture for America will continue to thrive and grow with her as its new CEO. I will be joining the Board of Directors, which has unanimously endorsed Amy, so I will not be far away.
Thank you to everyone who has made Venture for America such an amazing organization and community with me these past 6 years. When I first got started in 2011, I could not imagine the enthusiasm, the commitment, the love that so many people would feel for what started out as a set of ideas. VFA people are the best people I know, and working and growing alongside you has been the highest privilege of my professional life.
The truth is that the work of Venture for America is exactly what I feel the country needs most — energetic, ambitious, idealistic young people and others building businesses in Detroit, Providence, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Cleveland, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Antonio, Miami, Pittsburgh, Birmingham, Nashville, Charlotte, Denver, Columbus, Atlanta and Kansas City. In my time at Venture for America we will have recruited and trained over 700 aspiring entrepreneurs who have helped create over 2,200 jobs, including dozens of whom have started their own companies that are growing fast. Our Fellows have outdone even my most grandiose hopes as positive changemakers and role models. Seeing them mature into the kind of builders and human beings they have become is my proudest achievement. As I pass the torch to Amy, I have all confidence that she will continue to fulfill and build upon VFA’s mission.
Our vice-chairman, Scott Krase, once said to me that the most special thing about Venture for America is that “it makes the people who come into contact with it want to do better and be better.” This organization is an engine of character in a time that needs just that.
As part of my work with VFA, I have traveled to suburban Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Alabama, and other regions and been struck by the glaring lack of opportunity in many of them. Many people in these places are not thriving. I believe that millions of Americans will lose their jobs to automation and technological unemployment in the years to come.
I feel that I have a role to play in furthering our understanding and response to the economic trends that have begun impacting our communities around the country. My goal is to both research and organize an effective response to the impact of technology on the labor market. If that sounds kind of VFA-ey to you, well, that’s not too surprising.
If there is anything that the last 6 years of building and running Venture for America has taught me, it is that great things — all things — remain possible if you pursue your ideals and surround yourself with amazing people. I will take our ideals as far as I can possibly go, and I believe in my heart that I will do enough good to make this the right choice.
Please do surround and cherish Amy, the Team and the Fellows to preserve and grow this amazing community we have built. You have inspired me to believe that all things are possible. Let’s make as many people as we can share in that sense of optimism and possibility.