Bringing Executive Talent to Growing Cities

For the last five years, our fellowship has connected exceptional recent grads with startups in growing cities across the country—cities that struggle to draw in the kind of talent they need. We’re proud of the impact our Fellows have made, but we know there are other ways to support entrepreneurial ecosystems.

That’s why we’re excited to announce the Executive in Residence program.

For the first time, VFA will connect seasoned executives and leaders to the cities that need them. Veteran leaders from companies like Slack, LinkedIn, and others will live and work for one year to serve as resources, mentors and advisors to the innovation and entrepreneurship communities in VFA cities.

Are you ready to take your talents to a city that needs them? Join us as an Executive in Residence.

The Challenge: Correcting Regional Imbalance

Economic growth in the US is imbalanced. Coastal cities, like San Francisco, New York, and Boston, are thriving, while cities in the Midwest and Southeast are seeing job losses due to globalization and technological advances. The flows of talent and venture capital match this trend. In the last three years, almost half of all venture capital in the US went to firms in California, with New York and Massachusetts close behind. Highly-skilled and educated workers are driven to these opportunity-rich cities.

It’s increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs in other regions to secure the funding and attract the talent they need to thrive. Startup founders often cite lack of access to talent and the cost of talent as their biggest obstacle.

With the EIR program, we’re aiming to correct this imbalance, and give entrepreneurs in cities like Baltimore, Detroit, and Columbus access to the resources that their peers on the coasts enjoy.

There are an awful lot of talented people whose circumstances make it difficult for them to settle in Silicon Valley. If tech only lives here, we put ourselves in an echo chamber, and innovation suffers. So it’s important to cultivate opportunities across the US that are accessible to more people.

– Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack

How It Works

Venture for America’s Executive-in-Residence (EIR) program is seeking experienced tech professionals to serve as resources to the innovation and entrepreneurship communities in select VFA cities. The EIRs will live and work full-time in an innovation hub in their host city for one year. They will work with local entrepreneurs and startups, serve as a mentor and advisor, and activate resources and networks on behalf of local companies. They may take on an operational role with a local organization or company if they find a successful fit during the year.


Goals of the Executive in Residence Program:

  • Accelerate the development of startup communities in markets around the country.
  • Provide a leadership and growth opportunity for key executives.
  • Establish a direct connection between leading companies and innovation communities in regional markets.
  • Enable EIRs and companies to meaningfully engage with the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in different regions.
  • Inform organizational and personal development through exposure to new perspectives


  • Have multiple years of experience leading teams in a highly collaborative environment
  • Are excited about the opportunity to drive innovation and social impact as part of a community
  • Care deeply about mentoring and building relationships
  • Can’t wait to use your expertise to create wins for others
  • Have experience hiring and onboarding new team members, from new grads to management level
  • Have experience presenting at the Executive/Board level


Sample background experience for our EIRs include:

Engineering Leadership

  • Experience leading the development and maintenance of  a product/infrastructure
  • Running a product development process alongside Product Management and Design
  • Mentoring and coaching peers and associates, helping their professional growth
  • Cross-functional experience with multiple stakeholders
  • Building roadmaps and long-term team vision in partnership with a Product team

Product Management Leadership

  • Experience running a product development process alongside Engineering and Design
  • Experience with Agile, story points, task and project tracking tools (Jira, Trello, Asana)
  • Cross-functional experience with multiple stakeholders

Business Development

  • Experience developing strategic partnerships
  • Proven success through the entire sales cycle, from prospecting leads to closing deals
  • Successfully carried quotas and demonstrated significant revenue growth
  • Familiarity with multiple business models and industry patterns
  • Experience with financial forecasting, strategic planning, and management consulting a plus


A list of potential opportunities at innovation hubs in VFA cities can be found here

Application Process

  • Applications for the 2017 EIR Program will be open from March 1- April 15, 2017.
  • Applicants should submit a resume and cover letter in addition to answering the questions in the application.
  • Interested parties should indicate their speciality and desired VFA cities.
  • Applicants will be asked to identify a company, organization, or individual who will sponsor their EIR salary for one year.
  • Interviews with Venture for America will take place in April and successful applicants will be notified by May 1st.
  • The innovation organizations in each city will then have an opportunity to interview each EIR, if they are chosen to advance.
  • Final offers will be extended by June 1st, along with invitations to the VFA EIR Training Camp.
  • Training Camp will take place from July 9th through 15th at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. EIRs will relocate to their cities in August and begin work September 1st
Want to Learn More?

Want to Learn More?

With questions or to express interest, contact Leslie Miley, President – West Coast, at

Leslie is an engineering leader with experience at Slack, Twitter, Google, and Apple. He is a Silicon Valley native family roots in Ferguson, MO, and Richmond, VA.

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Applications open on March 1, 2017.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to apply for the EIR program?

Senior Engineering, Product, Design, Marketing, Business and Customer Success professionals who are looking to learn, mentor, and grow alongside local entrepreneurs and companies are a good fit for the program.

The skills required include relationship building, management, and communication. In addition, the ability to work with teams to identify success metrics, manage projects and backlogs, prioritize ruthlessly, and communicate effectively is key to success in this role and driving positive results for regional entrepreneurs.

Does an executive have to come from a major tech company?

No. All applicants with proven ability to help drive growth for local entrepreneurs and their ventures will be considered. However, if the applicant does not have a “sponsoring” employer, he/she will be responsible for securing the funding for the costs associated with the program.

What will the EIR training entail?

EIRs will attend a weeklong training program at Brown University in July as part of Venture for America’s annual Training Camp for its newest class of Fellows. EIRs will receive training on dealing with the resource constraints of a nascent startup, effectively engaging with startup founders, and acclimating to the climate and culture of the startup ecosystem in their city.

Will EIRs be working at a local start up or their parent company or both?

The specific role of the EIR will be determined by the innovation organization based on the needs of the regional startup ecosystem.

How will the EIRs be compensated?

Exact compensation will be mutually agreed upon by the sponsoring company and the EIR.  Venture for America recommends a $100,000 salary, benefits and relocation stipend.

Will EIRs lose their stock options?

Continuation of  options will be determined by the sponsor company.

How long will an EIR spend at an innovation organization in a VFA city?

The EIR will spend one year at an innovation organization, starting in September

How will EIRs interact with Venture for America Fellows and alumni?

Venture for America is currently selecting the next class of Venture for America Fellows to begin their two year fellowships in August 2017. The EIR program will run concurrent with the fellowship program. VFA Fellows and EIRs will have the chance to interact at Training Camp in July and in VFA cities through events, mentorship, and networking opportunities.

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