Today I’m thrilled to share that I will be joining the venture firm Base10 to lead operations for the Advancement Initiative, their new $250M fund with the mission of aligning the success of top tech companies with wealth generation for Black Americans. I’ll be wrapping up my time at Echoing Green this summer after two incredible years, and joining the Base10 team in the fall.

A few months ago Adeyemi Ajao, Base10’s co-founder and managing partner, reached out to me to share the idea for the Advancement Initiative. The central thesis was simple: A fund that unlocks access to wealth…

May’s scorecard is pretty simple

If we want to have any hope of fighting quarantine fatigue and suppressing COVID-19, we need to learn pandemic math

I’ve been thinking a lot about Anne Frank recently.

Not because my confinement in our apartment in Brooklyn is anything like her time in the secret annex in Amsterdam. Unlike Anne, I have space (by New York — and annex — standards, at least), supplies (grocery delivery time slots seem to be stabilizing a bit), and a near-constant link to the outside world (thanks, internet!).

In fact, in my current arrangement, with all life’s modern conveniences and pandemic adaptations, I…

The Three Gophers on the Moroccan coast

About a year and a half ago, in the fall of 2017, I met up with a group of nine women from my Stanford business school class for the weekend. This was not a girls’ weekend.

Of course it was a weekend of all women, but the focus was not relaxing, or the spa, or gossip, or wine, or even bonding or hanging out. I wouldn’t even consider all these women to be particularly good friends.

This was more like nerd girls’ weekend. The focus was on self discovery, reflection, connection, and learning.

At our fifth year reunion, my friend…

On the roof of the Duomo in Milan

Traveling with a little kid can be a joy. We talk to so many more people wherever we go, and have way more personal and authentic interactions than we ever had traveling the two of us. Just tonight while we were picking up dinner at the Lebanese place down the street, the man making our wraps cut up a cucumber for WP to munch while he showed us pictures of his own son.

On the other hand, someone once told me that when you’re traveling with kids you’re never on vacation, you’re just on a trip. And on tough days…

In late 2015, Code2040 had been around for 3.5 years. We were doing well with a ton of momentum, early successes, and, after some tight times in earlier years, the wind at our backs with fundraising. We had learned a lot, and while we had been smart and opportunistic in our impact and growth to date, at that point we were pretty sure the organization was going to stick around long enough that it made sense to get a bit more proactive. It was time to create a strategic plan.

We interviewed firms and engaged one we really liked with…

If you’re a people manager, eventually you’ll have to fire someone

One of the things I had to do as an executive at multiple companies is fire people. It’s not a part of any job that I particularly like to dwell on, but it is a part of any job where you’re managing a team.

I’ve fired people for whom the conversation felt like a surprise (no matter how clear I thought I’d been in the weeks leading up to it). I’ve fired people who sat down and said “I’m being fired now, aren’t I?” I’ve had honest conversations during…

This is the script for a public lecture I gave at the American University of Rome in Rome, Italy on October 4, 2018. Since I ad-libbed a bit as I talked, it’s not a perfect representation of the lecture, but it’s about 90% there. This was followed by a Q&A with moderator Kyla Fullenwider and the audience. The whole thing will be produced as a podcast which I’ll link to here when it’s available.

I have spent the last decade of my life — the better part of my career — in Silicon Valley.

It’s where I received my post…

It looks like she’s smiling, but she’s crying inside. (Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

How to Respond to “That Guy” Who Wants Quality over Diversity

I was on a conference call the other day and we were discussing a talent selection process. At one point the topic of diversity came up. It was straightforward enough at the start. I was asked to provide suggestions for how the initiative could encourage a broad pool of talent to apply, and I responded with some ideas.

Then things went a little sideways. One of the other people on the call spoke up: I think we should wait on diversity, and first focus on quality. This initiative is…

Recently I was asked to “share a personal or professional experience mentoring someone you are particularly proud of and why” and this is what I wrote:

When Karla came to work for Code2040 she described herself as a “midwife for the ideas of others.” It was a perfect skill set for someone who was to report to a founder-CEO. And Karla was excellent at the challenging, refining, and operationalizing needed to translate high level strategic objectives into programmatic initiatives. She was also a talented manager and knew how to take the intangibles of culture and start to codify them into…

Co-founders! Where it all began.

Sometime in fall 2017 I made the decision that is was time for Code2040, the successful social enterprise I’d co-founded and run since early 2012, to have a new CEO. I don’t remember the exact date I came to this realization, but I clearly remember the queasy-nervous feeling in my gut when I realized what I was going to do: quit my job and give up my leadership role at the organization I cared most about in the world.

I always knew when I launched Code2040 that I wouldn’t be there forever. I didn’t identify with the rockstar social entrepreneurs…

Laura Weidman Powers

I’ve been to 44 countries. I like food, startups, yoga, and doing good. Echoing Green, NMV, Code2040. Author, Unstuck Together.

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