June 16, 2020
Fundraising Venture Capital

Welcome Kauffman Fellows Class 25!


We are thrilled to announce the newest cohort of distinguished leaders to Kauffman Fellows Class 25!  

During this historical time, Class 25 is a strong reminder of the importance of honoring and equipping a diverse group of venture capital leaders in order to make a needed change and drive innovation and outstanding returns.

KF Diversity

This year’s class is the most diverse class we’ve ever had. Out of our 61 incoming Fellows, 41% are women, 49% identify as people of color, and 11% come from under-represented minority groups. It is also the most senior class to-date with investors (firm founders to partners) coming from some of the most prominent firms in the industry and arriving with an average of 5 years of investing experience. Notable firms participating in this class include Canaan, General Atlantic, Foundry Group, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Tribe Capital, Greycroft, and others. (full list at the end of the article) 

The Kauffman Fellows Program is dedicated to selecting a diverse set of industry leaders year after year. Since our inception, we have believed that in order to best understand the world’s challenges and continue to catalyze innovation, the future of the VC industry must be diverse and more reflective of society as a whole. This has been at the core of the Kauffman Fellows mission since our charter class 25 years ago. 

Over the years, we have measured the importance of a trusted and diverse network and how it impacts the success and longevity of the best investors in the industry. Research has shown that Kauffman Fellows not only have larger returns than the industry average, but they stay in the industry 15+ years post-fellowship, which is 2X the minimum number of years it takes to recognize success in venture capital. 

Building a trusted, diverse network does not happen overnight. It takes months or sometimes years to get the right candidate. We are constantly designing new experiences that will strengthen their bond. We continuously create opportunities for everyone to work together and we couldn’t have done it alone. We rely heavily on the support of our fellows and board members to build this trusted network. As such, we are thrilled to announce the election of three distinguished leaders in the venture capital industry to the Kauffman Fellows board: Marlon Nichols, MaC Venture Capital (KF Class 18); Melissa Richlen, MacArthur Foundation (KF Class 22); and Allen Taylor, Endeavor Catalyst (KF Class 16). They have continued to be critical in supporting our vision and helping bring class 25 together. We believe that in order for an organization to grow more diverse, and our Kauffman Fellows network to lead in diversity, our leadership must also be representative. The newly appointed board is 25% Black/AA, and 38% female (including the board chair).

Although this year marks a celebratory year for Kauffman Fellows as we commemorate our 25th year anniversary, current world challenges have reminded us that there is still a lot of work to be done. While we share the strong conviction that positive change is inevitable – we believe that it is never passive. We must continue to struggle, persevere, and take action to fight for what is right. Together, with the new class, and appointments of our new and continuation of our distinguished board members – we are ready, and armed to take on the challenges of today and tomorrow gracefully and fearlessly.

New Board Members:

Marlon Nichols, MaC Venture Capital

MarlonMarlon is a founding managing partner at MaC Venture Capital (formerly Cross Culture Ventures, a top decile performing fund), which finds entrepreneurs who are building the future for the rest of America. Marlon is also a Kauffman Fellow from Class 18. Formerly Marlon was an Investment Director at Intel Capital and a current adjunct in entrepreneurship and venture capital at the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University. Marlon’s unique eye for global trends and shifts in consumer behavior has helped him capture high-potential investments like Gimlet Media, MongoDB, Thrive Market, Fair, LISNR, Mayvenn, Blavity, Wonderschool, and others. He’s been featured on TechCrunch, Fortune, Blavity, and NBC, and was the recipient of SXSW 2018 Innovator of the Year award, Digital Diversity’s Innovation & Inclusion Change Agent award, and was named Pitchbook’s 25 Black Founders and VCs to Watch in 2018 and 2019

Melissa Richlen, MacArthur Foundation

MelissaMelissa is a portfolio manager of private equity for The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She has helped develop the global buyout and venture portfolios over almost two decades. Her previous professional experience includes underwriting and lending with Foothill Capital Corporation and Sanya Bank and auditing with PriceWaterhouse. Melissa is a Kauffman Fellow from Class 22. She earned a BBA in accounting from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and an MBA with a concentration in finance and strategy from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University.  Melissa is both a Certified Public Accountant and a Chartered Financial Analyst. Melissa lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a pup, Stella.

Allen Taylor, Endeavor and Endeavor Catalyst

Allen TaylorBased in Northern California, Allen is part of the global leadership team at Endeavor, a mission-driven organization focused on supporting high-growth companies in emerging and under-served markets. As the Managing Director of Endeavor Catalyst, Allen leads Endeavor’s innovative co-investment fund that has been recognized as one of the most active global venture investors in markets like Latin America and the Middle East. Since launching in 2012, Endeavor Catalyst has raised over $200M+ across three funds, made 140+ investments in 25 different countries, and realized eight exits. A native Californian and travel enthusiast, Allen has studied, worked, and traveled in more than 75+ countries. A graduate of Princeton University, he is a Fulbright Scholar (Germany, 2004) and a Kauffman Fellow (Class 16). He lives with his wife and young daughter in Sacramento, California.

Meet Class 25: 

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