Venture for America is very proud to introduce its inaugural class of VFA Fellows! Out of the hundreds of applicants, these individuals stood out based on intellectual ability, accomplishment, demonstrated leadership and initiative, communication and interpersonal skills, and mission-orientation.
Duke University ’12
Chelsea graduated from Duke University with a degree in Public Policy and was the President of Duke’s Triathlon Team. She spent a summer in Uganda working in microfinance, a semester in Bolivia, and a year working with urban schools in Philadelphia. Chelsea took a year off between high school and college to work for City Year (Americorps program) in Philadelphia, PA. In addition to the Triathlon team, she was a member of the DukeEngage Student Advisory Committee and Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.
Wesleyan University ’10
Dan graduated with honors from Wesleyan University in 2010 as a history major. At Wesleyan, he was captain of the varsity wrestling team, a Resident Advisor, and he wrote his senior thesis about dance in colonial America. Wrestling at 125 lbs, Dan was a two-time New England Champion for Wesleyan. After graduating, Dan worked in the Wesleyan Development office, where he helped to raise over $10 million dollars towards financial aid in 2011. As the assistant wrestling coach, he led the team to its first New England Championship title in nearly 30 years. Daniel enjoys lifting, playing all sports, dancing, reading fantasy novels, and eating good food.
Columbia University ’12
Jim graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Economics and Political Science. His academic interests have also included computer programming, finance, philosophy, and East Asian history. Jim’s work experience during college and over the summers has spanned everything from cleaning and painting boat hulls on the Norwalk River, to constructing model investment portfolios at Merrill Lynch in Honolulu. He has competed all four years for Columbia’s Varsity Lightweight Rowing Team and raced with his crew at the national championships in June 2012.
Washington University- St. Louis ’12
Max graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, where he majored in Urban Studies and Commercial Entrepreneurship, and originally hails from Birmingham, Michigan. Max led Bear Discounts LLC, providing a discount card to the WashU Community, and started Savvy Savings LLC to reach other colleges and universities in the area. He spent last summer working in private equity for FTL Capital Partners LLC in St. Louis. Max also helped found the Chamber of Commerce within the WashU Student Entrepreneurial Program (StEP) and was nominated for a Global Student Entrepreneur Award (GSEA). He enjoys playing softball and basketball, cheering on Detroit sports teams, boating, and traveling.
Georgetown University ’12
Roanne (@RoanneCLee) graduated from Georgetown University, double majoring in Finance and International Business at the McDonough School of Business. She grew up in Los Angeles developing a refined taste for tamales and fish tacos. Roanne traveled to Paris and Berlin to work with an indie artist and in the Fall of 2010, she studied abroad in Barcelona. She also worked with entrepreneurs in the pharmaceutical, entertainment, and restaurant industries and helps friends with local ventures such as farmers markets and charitable concerts. With the help of VFA, Roanne aspires to build her own technology start-up, going beyond convention and measuring success through net impact.
Claremont McKenna College ’10
Brentt graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 2010 and then worked for two years as an Investment Banking Analyst at Credit Suisse. He had the opportunity to work on several transactions and he can assure anyone that 100+ hour work-weeks will teach one more about themselves than most other experiences in life. Brentt works closely with The Posse Foundation – one of the most comprehensive and renowned college access and youth leadership development programs in the United States (www.possefoundation.org). Recently, he completed his two year term on the national board of the organization and he remains active on a Los Angeles committee. Brentt spends his free time hunting down original muscle car parts, as he works towards re-building a 1967 Pontiac Firebird 400. The hobby has forced him to appreciate patience and to learn to channel frustration; especially when his car breaks down on the busiest freeway in Los Angeles, because for some reason, the clutch pedal has fallen to the floor. Majoring in Economics and Finance at Claremont McKenna, Brentt had the opportunity to embark on a two-week community building trip to Honduras, living with a host family. In addition, he was Captain and MVP of the 2010 Division II National Champion Rugby team.
Dartmouth College ’12
Brian has a degree in Environmental Studies and Anthropology from Dartmouth College. Brian was valedictorian of his high school and 4-time state tennis champion in Bozeman, Montana. He has worked as a Research Associate for the Earthwatch Institute and a Field Intern at an environmental research center in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica. At Dartmouth, Brian was the founder and Captain of the Club Basketball Team, a Director for the Dartmouth Global Leadership Program, and an Undergraduate Advisor. Some of his interests include SCUBA diving, ecotourism, and reading mystery novels.
Emory University ’12
Brian graduated from Emory University in the Goizueta Business School, where he studied Finance and International Business. Brian was the president of the Emory Entrepreneurs Network and an Executive Fellow of the Kairos Society. Since his sophomore year of college, Brian has run a music and entertainment website. He has interned at UBS and NBC. Some of Brian’s interests include working out, making electronic music, and playing tennis.
Yale University ’12
Charles graduated with a degree in psychology from Yale University. A Detroit native, Charles has a lifelong passion for art and an undying love for Vernor’s pop (not ‘soda’). He spent a summer studying Kiswahili in Kenya and another interning at a strategy consulting firm. At Yale, Charles was the Media Coordinator of the Afro American Cultural Center, an Urban Improvement Corp mentor, and a research assistant in Yale’s Psychology Department. He is also an occasional freelance graphic designer. Charles’ interests include chess, drawing, and alternative hip-hop.
Columbia University ’12
Derek graduated with a degree in Political Science and Sociocultural Anthropology from Columbia University. Derek paid his own way to Detroit while applying to Venture for America to get a better sense of the environment and opportunities there. He was an Editor at the Columbia Daily Spectator, and has interned at the Council on Foreign Relations. Derek grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and considers himself immune to weather. His travels include trips to Europe, Southeast Asia, India, Southern Africa, and Israel.
Harvard University ’12
Gabby graduated from Harvard University, where she majored in Economics with a secondary in African American studies. Originally from Detroit, Gabby prides herself in always seeing potential, even when it’s difficult. Her internships focused primarily in government and policy. She also has an undying love for the arts, in all forms. She was also the Treasurer for the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College. Gabby enjoys going to museums and discovering new restaurants.
Michigan State University ’11
Jake graduated from Michigan State University in December 2011 with a B.A. in Economics. While at Michigan State, he served as a Social Media Intern for HoMedics where he helped build their fledgling Social Media program. He worked as a Summer Intern for Detroit Venture Partners, helping with proposal vetting and community outreach. He also served as a student director for East Lansing’s Hatch, a student entrepreneurial co-working space, while helping launch the Zaarly college program on MSU’s campus as “Campus CEO.” Jake is a member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity and is currently working with the marketing team at hiredMYway.com. His interests include startups, technology, snowboarding, golf, and mountain biking.
Kathy studied Economics and Urban Planning at MIT. Last summer, Kathy had the opportunity to work on the Startup America initiative while interning at the US Small Business Administration. She saw this as a chance to experience and develop the momentum of exciting entrepreneurial work across the country, including VFA. Being a generalist in almost everything she does, Kathy has managed to pick up instruments from guitar to any kind of percussion she can get her hands on (including cajon, djembe and a brief stint in Senegalese drumming). She has many hobbies including photography, cooking and dance. At MIT, Kathy was involved in her sorority Kappa Alpha Theta, was one of the finalists in the MIT 100K Business Plan Competition and has had the chance to host her own radio show.
Wesleyan University ’12
Max (@maxnuss) is one of the CAPTCHA-killers at Are You a Human, where a typical day might find him creating web site content, designing minigames, connecting with customers, and filming hilarious promotional videos. He graduated in 2012 from Wesleyan University, where he was awarded High Honors for his English major and no honor whatsoever for his government major. In a past life, Max wrote and directed an original musical and appeared on the tv game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” For more about Max you can check out his web site, www.maxnuss.com, which serves mainly as a vehicle for brazen self-promotion.
University of Oklahoma ’12
Scott majored in Engineering Physics at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK, specializing in Artificial Intelligence and minoring in Mathematics. He discovered his passion for entrepreneurship through the Center for Creation of Economic Wealth at OU where he worked on projects ranging from creating a student-run micro-lending organization, researching the commercial viability of a fiber-optic intrusion monitoring technology, and leading the development of a mobile application designed to improve education in Oklahoma. His interests include spending time with friends and family, playing guitar, reading, and thinking about hard problems.
Thank You to Greg and Sophia Gushee for Sponsoring Scott’s Fellowship
Brown University ’11, ’12
Tim earned a Masters degree studying Electrical Engineering from Brown, having received his bachelors there in 2011. For two years, Tim organized A Better World by Design, a student-run and student-led sustainable design conference held annually at Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design. He is also the co-founder of SoLab, the Brown-RISD Solar Decathlon team. His interests include technology, sustainability, punk rock, and ultimate frisbee.
Columbia University ’12
Todd graduated from Columbia University, double majoring in environmental science and American history with a focus on late 19th and 20th Century American industrialization. Through environmental entrepreneurship, he seeks to transform those ~120 year old paradigms that still exist in American energy production. He worked with a solar startup, which was much more fun than his past experiences in government, research, and corporate sustainability. At Columbia, Todd founded multiple projects, wrote policy, and served as the coordinator for two campus sustainability organizations, the Columbia University EcoReps and Green Umbrella. He’s also an avid basketball player (and NBA connoisseur), bike commuter, and amateur cook.
Cornell University ’12
Andrew Chatham (@ajchatham) is a Rhode Island native who studied Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. He developed his passion for business in 2009 while managing www.bigredboxes.com and managing the growing portfolio of student-run businesses as President of Student Agencies (http://studentagencies.com/businesses.php). Andrew, a southpaw, frequently manages to fit in some pickup basketball, will talk politics or sports with anyone who will listen, and is slowly teaching himself how to code in Python. VFA is the fast-track way for him to realize his lifelong goal of starting a successful business, and he’s eager to begin connecting with the incredible network surrounding the program.
University of Oklahoma ’12
Barry Conrad graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in business finance. Originally hailing from Louisville, Colorado, Barry once had dreams of becoming a broadcast meteorologist; however, after joining the university’s Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth (CCEW) he discovered entrepreneurship to be his true passion. During his time at CCEW Barry worked to create a non-profit in Sichuan Province, China aimed at providing more affordable and accessible cataract surgical care to rural residents. He spent a year working in venture capital for the Oklahoma Life Science Fund and was the COO of Appable, an application development company. Outside of school Barry enjoys playing tennis and racquetball, rooting for his Colorado based sports teams, and reading and re-reading all of the Harry Potter books.
Thank You to Downtown Project for Sponsoring Barry’s Fellowship
Wesleyan University ’12
Josh is the Assistant Director of Healthcare Initiatives for Downtown Project in Las Vegas, where he’s working with ZDoggMD to build a transformative primary care clinic less than a block from where he lives. His job is constantly in flux, but has included meeting with potential partners, leading focus groups, editing and at times acting in medical melodramas, and selecting architects. Josh was born and raised in New Haven and educated at Wesleyan University, where he dabbled in environmental activism, Buddhism, and neuroscience. In his spare time he enjoys sitting on stoops, snacking, and Yiddish words like “chutzpah.”
Thank You to Downtown Project for Sponsoring Josh’s Fellowship
Austin “Jude” Stanion
UNC- Chapel Hill ’12
Jude graduated from the University of North Carolina and studied Anthropology and Urban Planning. Born and raised in post-tobacco Durham, NC, Austin has always wanted to play a role in the rebirth of America’s struggling cities. Austin’s interest in urbanism and agricultural enterprises has led him from market research in New Orleans, to development consulting in Sierra Leone, to a semester of architecture school in Copenhagen, and most recently to urban planning and design work in Detroit. After living and working in the Motor City for a summer, Austin knew that he would never be satisfied in a city without a little dirt behind its ears. Due to his slow walking pace Austin bikes everywhere he can, and also performed in and directed UNC’s improvised comedy company.
Thank You to Downtown Project for Sponsoring Jude’s Fellowship
Williams College ’12
Laura graduated from Williams College, where she studied economics. She’s especially interested in social entrepreneurship and sustainable development, passions both sparked by a course she took with Steve Case called “Changing the World 101″ and by watching her dad grow his own business. At Williams, she is the student chair of the College’s Committee on Undergraduate Life, has run a leadership retreat for freshmen, and has participated in various tutoring programs throughout her four years. She spent a summer helping to craft The Nature Conservancy’s first-ever corporate engagement strategy and interned at MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. Some of her interests include traveling to new places with her family, reading David Brooks’ columns in the New York Times, playing soccer, and cooking with friends. Laura lived in Moscow as a child, grew up in the Washington D.C. suburbs, and has studied in England and France.
Thank You to Downtown Project for Sponsoring Laura’s Fellowship
UNC-Chapel Hill ’12
Ovik graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he studied Biology and Environmental Science. He hails from Tuscaloosa, AL, and spent 11 weeks in Ecuador this past summer studying carbon sequestration in mangrove forests (a fancy way of saying playing in mud). At Chapel Hill, Ovik was an active member in the NC Fellows Program, APPLES Service Learning, and worked to bring a bike-share program to UNC’s campus. Ovik also spent the past two years working in the Gillings Schools of Public Health, most recently as a part of the Water Institute. His interests include traveling, reading, ultimate frisbee, and sustainability.
Thank You to Downtown Project for Sponsoring Ovik’s Fellowship
Cornell University ’12
Rob graduated from the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He enjoys spending much of his spare time participating in athletics and dabbling in music. Earlier in his college career, he won a gold medal at the Eastern Sprints League Championship, rowing for Cornell’s Heavyweight Crew Team, and competed as a member of Cornell’s Rugby Football Team. He also coached and played for the Cornell Club Lacrosse Team. Rob plays several musical instruments, focusing primarily on the guitar. He is the President and Founder of his own music promotion website, Backfromthezoo.com.
Thank You to Downtown Project for Sponsoring Rob’s Fellowship
University of Pennsylvania ’12
Alison Schmitt graduated from the University of Pennsylvanias Wharton School where she designed her own concentration in International Development. She grew up in North Jersey, studied abroad in Argentina, and spent a summer in New Orleans working for a social enterprise specializing in real estate development and project management. Alison is an officer of Penns community service club Circle K, is a student manager in her College House, and hopes to pursue a career in community development. Some of her interests include playing volleyball, board games, and eating chocolate.
Cornell University ’12
Edith graduated from Cornell University, where she studied Industrial and Labor Relations. A born and bred New Yorker, Edie had a very eclectic childhood in the West Village, attending jazz concerts, museums, and films on a daily basis. At Cornell she kept busy as a Hillel Campus Entrepreneur, a production assistant at the Cornell Daily Sun, and with Sigma Delta Tau sorority and the Cornell Gourmet Club. Edie is also an avid foodie and world traveler. Check out her culinary adventures at http://eatingwithedie.wordpress.com. Her travels include trips to the Middle East, Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Amherst College ’11
John graduated from Amherst College in May 2011, having studied Economics and Russian. He grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and was a valedictorian of his high school. Combining his interests in Economics and Russian, John worked for the Economics Section of the United States Embassy in Moscow, Russia, in the summer of 2010. He spent a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Donetsk, Ukraine. Outside of work, John’s favorite activity is running and he was a captain of the Amherst College Cross-Country team his senior year. His other interests include traveling, basketball, and Mexican food.
Northwestern University ’12
has a degree in Environmental Science and Economics from Northwestern University. On campus, he ran the Northwestern Sustainability Fund, organized a yearly bluegrass music festival, and worked as a research assistant at the University archives. He has taught health workshops at Chicago public high schools and worked with Evanston residents as an employment and public benefits advisor. Mark spent a semester in Beijing studying Mandarin while conducting research on Chinese consumption rates and government weather modification efforts. In his free time, Mark enjoys playing guitar and ukulele, listening to public radio, and caring for his pet hamster.
University of Pennsylvania ’12
Michael holds a degree in Finance from the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton). A Florida native and valedictorian of his high school class, Mike spent a summer as an Analyst in the Global Power Group of the Investment Bank at Credit Suisse. He turned down his offer from Credit Suisse when he realized that start-ups were his true passion. Mike is was a member of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and enjoys playing golf and basketball, working out, and traveling.
Amherst College ’12
Nihal graduated from Amherst College with a degree in Political Science and Computer Science. Nihal was the Editor-in-Chief of The Amherst Student and a senator in the Association of Amherst Students. He studied abroad in Italy and spent a summer working as a Web Design Intern at Liberty Mutual in Boston. He spent winter break in India, conducting research for his political science thesis on dam development. His favorite movie is Remember the Titans and some of his interests include rap music, reading, tennis, sustainability, and Boston sports.
Vassar College ’12
Sam graduated from Vassar College, where he studied Math and Physics. After attending high school in Hong Kong and Brasilia, Sam spent a few summers working in Mayor Fenty’s Green Summer Job Corps, researching Condensed Matter Physics at Kansas State University, and working at the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) in New York City. At Vassar, he sang with his a cappella group and spun fire with his circus troupe, the Barefoot Monkeys. Sam likes to build and improve everything from furniture to operating systems, and enjoys a good game of Samurai Sudoku.
Cornell University ’12
Sara graduated from Cornell University, where she studied International Agricultural and Rural Development with concentrations in the Middle East and Economics. An avid traveler and aspiring social entrepreneur, Sara first pursued her interests in high school when she volunteered at orphanages in Russia. More recently, Sara spent time studying in Kenya and India, and she lived in Morocco one spring studying how social media technologies influence migration patterns. Her professional experiences include working for the United Nations, U.S. Senate, and non-profits on a diverse range of contemporary global issues. In her free time, Sara enjoys riding horses, photography, and yoga.
Tulane University ’12
Billy graduated from Tulane University and now works at StaffInsight. He grew up outside of Chicago but was drawn to New Orleans because of the opportunity to assist in the post-Katrina development. Since joining Venture for America, Billy launched Startup Effect, a entrepreneurship enrichment program for urban youth, with Mike Mayer, Brian Bosche and Brett Baltimore. His interests include playing basketball, design/architecture, and the countless cultural offerings that New Orleans provides. His goal is to create opportunities for others through education reform, open-sourcing, and long-term community focused development.
University of Pennsylvania ’12
Bryant graduated from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Management and Public Policy. Bryant spent a summer as a Policy Analyst Intern at the Department of Homeland Security working in the strategic planning office. At Penn, Bryant completed entrepreneurship classes where he and other students developed a cloud-gaming service and pitched their idea to venture capitalists. An avid tennis player, Bryant was the captain of his high school tennis team and spent one summer as an assistant coach teaching young children how to play. His other interests include public and education policy, computer hardware, and playing poker.
Yale University ’12
Ethan has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Yale University. Ethan originally hails from Plainview, Minnesota and has a strong interest renewable energy. He has interned at GE Aviation and the Yale Center for Combustion Studies. He is a member of the American Society of Engineers, and was part of the Yale Climate and Energy Institute, Engineers without Borders, Yale Club Wrestling, and a co-founder of the Yale Undergraduate Energy club. Some of his interests include energy industry and policy, guitar music, and athletics.
Brown University ’12
Melanie studied economics at Brown University. She grew up in Bethesda, Maryland and is interested in social enterprise, urban studies and economic growth. In the summer of 2010 she worked for a logistics and supply chain management firm in Mumbai and returned to India in February of 2011 on the first leg of a comparative study abroad program that traveled to Delhi, Dakar, Senegal and Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2011 she worked for Social Venture Partners Rhode Island, a multi-service center that works to support start-up social ventures in the state. She is an avid ultimate frisbee player and was captain of the women’s team at Brown.
Boston College ’12
Sean graduated from Boston College, where he majored in Communications and with a Hispanic Studies minor. A native of Holden, MA, Sean grew up playing hockey in the winters, waterskiing in the summers, and rooting on Boston sports teams year round. At Boston College, Sean contributed to WZBC Sports Radio, serving as both a play-by-play announcer and color commentator at BC sporting events. As an Account Management and then Social Media Strategy intern at Hill Holliday in Boston, Sean developed passions for brands, advertising, and social media. He also gained entrepreneurial experience through the hockey clinic he founded in Central Massachusetts. Sean’s college experience was highlighted by his semester abroad in Madrid, and he wrote his senior thesis on the long-term impact of the study abroad experience.
Notre Dame ’11, Brown University ’12
Sean received his Masters degree from Brown University’s Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (PRIME). For his capstone project, he was part of a team that developed a business plan for creating low-cost, thin-film solar cells made from a unique method of metal deposition. In 2011 Sean earned his Bachelor of Science in Physics with a minor in Italian from the University of Notre Dame. His interest in technology commercialization led to a passion for entrepreneurship, which he looks forward to cultivating as a VFA fellow. Outside of the classroom, Sean could be found defending the goal for Brown’s club hockey team. He also enjoys jazz, microbrews, situational comedy, and contemplating the mysteries of the universe.
Cornell University ’10
Rickey is a 2010 graduate of Cornell University where he majored in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Mechanical Engineering. Rickey was a lab tech at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and has used his Engineering skills to demolish and rebuild a house in his hometown in Maryland. In addition to his experience in metal and wood machining, he is also proficient in qPCR, ELISA, SDS-PAGE, Gel Electrophoresis, Protein Extraction, SolidWorks, Mill/Lathe/CNC Machining, Java, C++, and MATLAB. As if that weren’t enough, he is currently learning Android programming as well! Rickey is fluent in Japanese, and some of his interests include: consumer products, fishing, guitar, stock trading, personal development, and the future of this country.
University of Maryland ’12
James graduated with a degree in Finance from the University of Maryland in the Robert H. Smith School of business. He was an active member of the Accelerated Financial Fellows and Private Equity and Venture Capital Fellows programs. He has worked as an intern at a Morgan Stanley Smith Barney brokerage office in Connecticut and as an analyst at First Annapolis Consulting in Baltimore. During his first semester of senior year, James contributed to a white paper titled The “New” New Deal: A Pragmatic Approach for Stabilizing the Ailing Economy, which was distributed to over 400 politicians and received national attention on Thompson Reuter’s website. Some of his interests include sailing, tennis, lacrosse, and SCUBA diving.