Lenore Champagne Beirne on Creating an Inclusive Economy
August 3, 2023
Lenore is an Investor, Executive Coach and Venture Strategist. Lenore is the Founder and Managing Partner of Bright Ventures, a Black woman-led emerging fund and strategic advisory firm using a proprietary Inclusive Innovation Model to deliver capital, coaching and community to a diverse group of founders and innovators.

Her mission, and her firm's, is to build an inclusive economy. Lenore leads Bright Ventures Fund I, a venture capital fund investing in Pre Seed and Seed-stage companies in fin-tech, digital health and future of work. Her investment thesis is built upon her thousands of hours as an executive coach and strategist for C-level leaders and venture founders. 

What is the inclusive economy?

At Bright Ventures, we are building an inclusive economy. Our work holistically dismantles barriers to inclusion across the economic ecosystem by supporting underrepresented innovators, founders and leaders. At Bright Ventures, we approach this mission through a coaching, community, and capital model - shifting the way businesses operate through individual, organizational, and systemic transformations. The inclusive economy is made possible by creating resilient, adaptable business systems while considering the breadth of individual behaviors, organizational structures, and systemic obstacles. The inclusive economy is how we create a future that works for all of us together.

How do other C-Suite executives participate in the creation of an inclusive economy?

The research is clear. We will continue to suffer from subpar solutions if we don’t have inclusive inputs. Innovation is most impactful when those most closely affected by the problem are the same ones creating the solutions. If we want the best returns on our investment dollars, and we want the best for the American and global economy, we need to have a diverse group of entrepreneurs building solutions. That is where C-Suite executives can initiate change. The most fundamental step to create the inclusive economy is to partner with, invest in, and purchase from underrepresented innovators, founders and leaders.

In some cases, this is achieved through a C-Suite leader’s influence over marketing, corporate development or supplier diversity activities and budgets. But it is always available to leaders as internal advocates for diverse talent. Every C-suite leader can create pathways to success for those who face systemic obstacles.

My entire career has been focused on shifting power, creating new avenues to opportunity. This foundation is a core differentiator in what Bright Ventures provides. This is how we dismantle the systems that do not serve us and close the gaps in equity to truly create products and experiences that are beneficial to those who need it most.

What led you to do this work?

I founded Bright Ventures to invest in solutions to the systemic inequities and breakdowns that affected me and my community growing up. These are huge opportunities for systemic change, and huge market opportunities as well. Bright Ventures’ distinctive Inclusive Innovation Model turns my lived experience and research into a unique investment thesis. Our model ensures that we intentionally invest in and back founders who see systems differently, who may have been overlooked or underestimated in our current economic and social landscape, and who are building transformative technologies that change the way we experience health, money and work.

My mission and passion has always been to provide visionary entrepreneurs with the resources, tools, and access to capital that they need to bring their vision to life. Now, as the founder of Bright Ventures, I have been able to make this my career. Every day, Bright Ventures takes a step closer to the equitable economy that we envision by investing in innovative ventures, coaching the ambitious leaders of tomorrow, and cultivating a supportive network of problem-solvers that founders need to succeed.

Have you had mentors who have led the way in your envisioning of and creation of an inclusive economy?

When I was in college, I was hungry to learn as much as I could about the professional world of finance. I needed mentorship and was eager for a community of my own.

On my search for a mentor, I ended up meeting and elevator-pitching a partner at Bank of America and asking him to take me on as an intern. That was my first job in finance and an important step toward what I have created today. The same mentor is someone I continue to learn from.

Many of the lessons I have learned from my experience as a young professional starting out in the financial industry, I still carry with me now. At Bright Ventures, community building and mentorship are two of our core offerings. In fact, Bright Ventures began as an executive coaching and consulting firm, and that work continues today. Now, we work with leaders and founders to better position them to lead strategically and respond swiftly to the needs of their teams and challenges of the market. Our strategic network, called The Constellation, connects leaders who are defining and building the future in order to amplify and extend the impact of their work.

Who is one woman you admire right now?

Dee Poku! As I have shared in my own mission, community is powerful. I admired the great work Dee has done to bring us all together.

What’s one big trend you see in 2023 and 2024 that we need to pay attention to?

What we thought was just a trend in 2020 - a demand for more flexible and fair work - is here to stay. Expect the workplace to be transformed forever, and expect GenZ to push the rest of us to rethink what we work on, and how we work.

What’s one thing that you’ve done that’s been instrumental for scaling your business?

Building the right team. Be willing to learn always, but also ruthlessly honest about what I can’t do, and find people who can.



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