Why the Startup Community Should Care about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

DEI is a trending topic from the boardroom to the breakroom, but why as part of the startup community should you care? In this webinar, startup leaders and investors will learn how to leverage DEI to positively impact their bottom line.

Illustrated business team building money. Investment and success concept

quick stats


of venture capitalists say that their firm is willing to reduce its investment in a portfolio company because it is insufficiently diverse


of venture capitalists say their firm holds their portfolio companies accountable for achieving and maintaining diversity

in this webinar we'll cover

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Common Q&A and misconceptions about DEI


Our top strategies for creating DEI initiatives built to scale and deliver positive business outcomes

Plus, your questions!

Money growing

Best practices for diversifying your investment portfolio

thank you to our sponsors

All sponsorship donations benefit the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Established in 1987, TMCF is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF member-schools include the publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). Publicly-supported HBCUs enroll over 80% of all students attending HBCUs. Through scholarships, capacity building and research initiatives, innovative programs, and strategic partnerships, TMCF is a vital resource in the K-12 and higher education space. The organization is also a source for top employers seeking top talent for competitive internships and jobs. 

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Best practices from serial entrepreneurs, investors, and Certified Diversity Executives

Donald Thompson, Co-Founder & CEO, The Diversity Movement

With two decades of experience growing and leading firms, Donald is a thought leader on goal achievement, influencing company culture, and driving exponential growth. As an entrepreneur, Donald has led companies which have attained successful exits with strong returns for shareholders and employees. Donald is a Certified Diversity Executive (CDE), co-founder of The Diversity Movement, and CEO of Walk West. He was named to Forbes' inaugural Next 1000 list honoring top entrepreneurs redefining the American dream. Donald is an angel investor personally infusing over a million dollars in North Carolina ventures alone. He serves on several boards, is a mentor, contributes weekly to WRAL TechWire, and has written for publications including and

Shelley Willingham, VP Business Strategy, The Diversity Movement

Shelley is a serial entrepreneur and business strategist with more than 20 years of corporate and small business experience. In 2003, Shelley founded the National Organization for Diversity in Sales and Marketing (NODSM), a company focused on helping corporate America recognize the increasing purchasing power of diverse segments and helping them market to these groups. Shelley champions DEI initiatives and has partnered with FORTUNE magazine on a special diversity section. She speaks at various business events and conferences, coaches and consults aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners, is a frequent on-air contributor to CNBC, and is a Forbes Council member.

Lister Delgado, Managing Partner, IDEA Fund Partners

Lister co-founded IDEA Fund Partners in 2006 as a seed and early stage technology focused fund in Durham, NC. Today, IDEA Fund Partners is considered one of the most active and successful early stage funds in the Southeast.  In his role, Lister is responsible for all aspects of the venture process, from opportunity sourcing and negotiation to management of portfolio investments. Formerly, Lister was part of the corporate investment team at MCNC Ventures, a technology focused fund investing in early stage companies in North Carolina. In 2006, concurrent with his investment responsibilities, Lister led the design and implementation of the NC IDEA grants program. The NC IDEA Grants program today is a key source of seed funding and validation for startups in North Carolina.


Jessica Porta, Executive Director, Raleigh Founded

Jess currently leads several economic development efforts for Raleigh Founded to include programs that connect rural communities and traditionally under-represented communities with the same resources that are accessible to scaling businesses. Prior to her work with Raleigh Founded, Jess served as a consultant and interim Director of Development for several organizations to include: The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture, the United Way, the Triangle Diversity Business Council, and Know My World. Her background is in Human Rights. She also served as the Training and Education Manager for the Salvation Army of Wake County where she worked with survivors of human tracking and educated law enforcement statewide about how to best identify and serve victims.

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Ready to get started building DEI from the ground-up?