FALL 2018 FALL SPEAKER SERIES
ARLAN HAMILTON (full bio) is Founder & Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a venture capital fund dedicated to minimizing disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or LGBT. Hamilton has been profiled by Forbes, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, and others.
Black women are among the most educated groups in the U.S. and fastest growing segments of entrepreneurs, but among the least likely to receive funding. The misperception of risk involved in investing in Black women specifically, and in businesses of color generally, permeates across sectors from business to philanthropy to public sector programs, and is accompanied by lower expectations for outcomes, and a view of investments as charity. “Less than 10% of all venture capital deals go to women, People of Color, and LGBT founders,” Hamilton has said. “Other venture capital firms see this as a pipeline problem. We see it as the biggest opportunity for investment.”
DR. ANDRE PERRY (full bio) of the Brookings Institution identified inclusive practices, policy levers, and proactive roles each sector - business, government and philanthropic - must play to ensure our region grows because of our diversity not in spite of it. Doing so will align our actions with our values and position Minneapolis-St. Paul as a hub for talent, investment, and innovation. Dr Perry’s op ed in The New York Times, “Who Gets Left Out of the Urban Tech Boom,” contrasted regions which invest in communities of color as assets vs. those which exclude them and the resulting impact on a region’s competitiveness, growth and vitality.
Perry was joined by panelists Ravi Norman (CEO, THOR Companies), Marcus Owens (Executive Director, African American Leadership Institute), Bo Thao-Urabe (Executive & Network Director, Coalition of Asian American Leaders), and Jai Winston (Director / St Paul, Knight Foundation).