Meet the Board
Our board is comprised of leaders in finance, notable venture capitalists, philanthropists and business professionals. We rely on them to steer us in the best direction for success.
Michel Amsalem, Managing Partner, Riverside Advisors, LLC
Michel is sole proprietor and managing partner of Riverside Advisors, LLC, a vehicle he created to support his consulting, lecturing and investment activities. Michel is a Member of the New York Angels.
Michel has spent his career in the venture development field, for the last fifteen years as the Founder and Managing Partner of Midsummer Capital, the management company of a group of funds dedicated to the financing of new ventures. Previously Michel spent fifteen years in investment banking, arranging for structured debt and equity issues as well as M&A and corporate restructuring transactions for developing countries’ firms. Michel taught strategy and business policy at Columbia University Graduate School of Business first as a full-time faculty member then as an Adjunct Associate Professor. He started his career at the IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank where he was in charge of private sector development in Africa.
After receiving an undergraduate degree in law and a graduate degree in Business (Diplome HEC) in France, Michel received an MBA from Columbia University and a DBA from Harvard University.
Abigail Carlton, Head of Social Impact, Indeed
Abbey is the head of Social Impact for Indeed, the world’s top job site. In this role, Abbey leads Indeed’s efforts to democratize opportunity for job seekers around the world, including the 200M+ job seekers who visit Indeed every month, through product innovation, strategic partnerships and community engagement.
Prior to joining Indeed, Abbey was Managing Director for US Jobs and Economic Opportunity at The Rockefeller Foundation. Under Abbey’s leadership, the Foundation partnered with Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, federal and local governments, tech start ups and others to promote impact hiring: talent strategies that help employers meet business objectives while improving the outcomes of workers who face barriers to employment. Abbey also led efforts on the future of work, independent work, and long-term unemployment, among others. Earlier in her career, Abbey held research and program management positions with New York University’s Institute for Education and Social Policy, the US Department of Labor, and the law firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore, LLP. She has been published in Forbes, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the Huffington Post, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and Philanthropy Journal, and featured on NPR, CBS Radio and the Talent Angle podcast.
Abbey received a bachelor’s degree from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University and a master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University.
Christina Chiu, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley
Christina is a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. She is the COO of the Global Listed Real Assets Investing business, a member of the Listed Real Assets Investment Committee, and also responsible for investing in public real estate securities and maintaining primary responsibility for all client relationships. Previously, she worked for the Firm’s Real Estate Investment Banking Group, where she worked extensively on both principal investing and strategic advisory transactions. Christina received a B.S. (summa cum laude) from New York University’s Stern School of Business in Finance and Accounting.
Carolyn Cohen, Founder, Incites Solutions
Carolyn is the founder of Incites Solutions, a company that provides future trend direction to ensure that brands and retailers are better equipped to anticipate and proactively adapt to disruptive marketplace shifts.
Prior to founding Incites, Carolyn has spent over 20 years providing branding and strategic direction to some of the world’s best-known brands. Her career has taken her from the factory to the showroom to the board room.
Following her earlier years on the front line with Ann Taylor and The Gap, she began to carve out a niche as an expert in the development of innovative strategies to assist clients optimize their brand evolution. Carolyn served as Director, Team Leader Client Development and in other capacities during her 12+ years with The NPD Group, a top-tier market research organization. She also worked as Vice President of Client Service, Insights & Strategic Partnerships at WGSN, the premier global trend forecasting service. Carolyn is recognized for her high-touch approach. Those who have benefited from her experience include Fortune 500 fashion brands such as Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Nike, Hanes, Levi’s, PVH, VF Corporation, Target, consumer brands such as L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, P&G, Disney, as well as startups.
Carolyn received her Bachelor of Arts & Science, Cum Laude at LIU and holds an A.S. in Fashion Buying/Merchandising from The Fashion Institute of Technology.
Jennifer DaSilva, Founder & Executive Director, Start Small Think Big
Jennifer is an attorney whose professional background has been in community development. Jennifer began her career in the Bronx in the late 1990s as the Director of the East Side House Settlement Youth Leadership Program, working closely with South Bronx families and community groups, and building partnerships between East Side House and private funders, nonprofit and government institutions, and private businesses.
After graduating from law school in 2001, Jennifer clerked on the District of Columbia District Court for the Honorable Gladys Kessler, and worked as a Litigation Associate at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. Jennifer then worked for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where she helped to coordinate their 2008 west coast Election Protection effort by opening three national hotline call centers in California, building mobile legal field programs in Nevada and Washington, and recruiting and training 1500+ legal volunteers.
Prior to founding Start Small Think Big in 2010, Jennifer worked at Angkor Microfinance Kampuchea, a licensed Cambodian Microfinance Institution in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she helped to design a new micro-insurance product for the Cambodian market. Jennifer holds a BA in Political Science from Yale University, and a JD from Cornell Law School.
Heather Doherty Guardado, Partner, Northstar Capital Management
Heather Doherty Guardado is a Partner at Northstar Capital Management and is responsible for corporate strategy, operations and business development. Previously, Heather served as a Senior Advisor and Director of Economic Development for Governor Cuomo’s Office of Storm Recovery following Hurricane Sandy. She also served during the Bloomberg Administration at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) where she led consumer financial protection strategies including the city’s financial counseling programs and the professional training and technical assistance initiatives.
She has a diverse background with financial and consulting experience. At American International Group (AIG) she worked with business divisions in over 30 countries. At Shepardson, Stern and Kaminsky (SS+K) she was a consultant in public affairs. While at SS+K her clients included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Livestrong Foundation, Fannie Mae Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Merck. Heather received a B.A. in History and a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) in International Economics from Columbia University. She is currently Board Chair for Start Small Think Big, a New York City based nonprofit organization and is a member of the Women’s Presidents Organization Financial Women’s Association.
Joseph Kaufman, Partner, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Joe is an attorney at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, where he is a partner in the firm’s corporate department. Joe advises clients on public and private offerings of debt and equity securities, corporate governance, business combinations and general corporate and securities law matters. Joe joined Simpson Thacher in 1994 and, among other roles, has served on the firm’s pro bono committee since 2010. Joe was recognized by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business 2015 and, in 2011, was named by The National Law Journal as one of the three “Most Influential Lawyers” in the Finance and Capital Markets category. Joe holds an AB in Economics from Harvard University, a BA (Hons.) in Economics from University of Canterbury (New Zealand), and a JD from University of Chicago Law School.
Navneet Kaur, Director, Barclays Investment Bank
Navneet is a Director at Barclays Investment Bank responsible for funding decisions for Portfolio Management, Syndicate, Municipal securities and Securitized Products. In addition, she is also responsible for regulatory requirements related to liquidity for the bank’s loan book. Navneet has worked at Barclays for 12 years in various areas focusing on credit structuring and secured financing.
Navneet moved to the US in 2013, after living in London for 12 years. Navneet holds an MBA from London Business School. Prior to LBS, Navneet worked at HSBC and ANZ Bank in Mumbai. Navneet grew up in India and graduated from Delhi University and XLRI, Jamshedpur.
Mark Kesslen, Partner, Lowenstein Sandler
Mark Kesslen is a Partner at Lowenstein Sandler and Chair of the Intellectual Property section of The Tech Group. As chair of the firm’s IP group, Mark provides critical strategic guidance to tech-based companies that are engaged in creating businesses, launching new products, and conducting M&A and venture capital transactions. He manages issues relating to software, digital and social media, big data, fin-tech, open source, virtualization/cloud, blockchain, SaaS, enterprise, and hardware (including medical devices). He continues to manage and assess a wide range of process, software, and business method patents, and provides strategic advice on issues ranging from litigation assessment to patent scope, open source, trademarks, privacy, and ownership risks. Mark also leads several groups focused on startups. Unique in the industry, Lowenstein’s VentureCrush platform provides support and connectivity to the venture marketplace through a varied array of creative approaches. Mark holds a B.S.E.E in electrical engineering from Tufts University and J.D. from Case Western Reserve University.
Alison McKinnell King, Pro Bono Counsel, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP
Alison has represented various low-income individuals and tax-exempt organizations on a pro bono basis since joining the firm in 1996. She has been the Co-Chair of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer’s Pro Bono Committee since 2002 and is responsible for the development and administration of the firm’s pro bono program worldwide. Under her leadership, the firm has built strong relationships with local and national legal services organizations, has developed experience in several areas of pro bono practice, such as representing transgendered clients on their name changes and working with refugees and victims of human rights abuses, and the firm continues to increase the number of tax-exempt organizations and micro-entrepreneurs that it counsels on contract, corporate, employment, intellectual property and real estate issues. The majority of the firm’s pro bono practice is in the representation of individual low-income clients. The firm’s commitment to pro bono was recognized when it was presented with the 2009 New York State Bar Association President’s Pro Bono Award in the Large Law Firm category.
Alison has won several awards for her pro bono work including the Brooklyn Family Defense Practice 2015 Award, ABA Section of Business Law’s 2008 National Public Service Award, the 2008 Cornerstone Award from Lawyers Alliance for New York, the Sanctuary for Families 2007 Pro Bono Achievement Award, and the MFY Legal Services, Inc. 2005 Scales of Justice Award. She has been named Empire State Counsel by the New York State Bar Association every year since the program began.
Erik Knutzen, CIO-Multi-Asset Class Strategies, Neuberger Berman
Erik L. Knutzen, CFA, CAIA and Managing Director, is Co-Head of the Neuberger Berman Quantitative and Multi-Asset Class investment team and Multi-Asset Class Chief Investment Officer. Erik joined in 2014 and is responsible for driving the asset allocation process on a firm-wide level, as well as engaging with clients on strategic partnerships and multi-asset class and quantitative solutions. Previously, Erik was with NEPC, LLC where he served as chief investment officer since 2008. As CIO, he oversaw a group of more than 45 investment professionals, including dedicated research teams focused on Alternative Investments, Traditional Strategies and Asset Allocation for NEPC’s client base with, collectively, more than $800 billion in assets under advisement. He has over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, including nine years at Putnam Investments. In 2013, he was recognized by aiCIO magazine, ranking atop their 25 most influential investment consultants. Erik holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Williams College. He has been awarded the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, as well as the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst designations. Erik also sits on the Board of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, where he is a member of their Investment Committee.
SHAWN KODES, COUNSEL AT WEIL, GOTSHAL & MANGES LLP
Shawn Kodes is an attorney in the Corporate Department of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP as well as a member of the firm’s Financial Regulatory Reform Working Group. Prior to joining the firm in 2011, Mr. Kodes was a Vice President of a financial services company that arranged capital markets financing for global financial institutions. Mr. Kodes was responsible for transaction management and execution, as a well as oversight of the company’s legal matters.
Mr. Kodes has been involved in various community and charitable organizations. He was previously Chair of the Junior Board of Partnership with Children, a non-profit agency that provides social and emotional support to New York City’s most at-risk children through its school-based programs. He has also been involved with the Robin Hood Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club of Central New York.
Mr. Kodes received his B.A., cum laude, from Syracuse University in 2004. He received his J.D., cum laude, from New York Law School in 2007, where he was associate managing editor of the New York Law School Law Review. Mr. Kodes also served as a judicial extern, in his second year, for the Honorable Faith S. Hochberg, United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey.
Laura Kozien, Vice President, Director of Marketing, New York Business Development Corporations
Laura Kozien serves as Vice President. Director of Marketing for the New York Business Development Corporation and its affiliates. In her role, Laura is responsible for driving brand awareness and customer acquisition through digital, branding, communications, and publicity efforts.
Ms. Kozien brings more than 12 years of financial services marketing experience to EGF. Prior to joining EGF, she served as Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at the Accion U.S. Network, a national network of microfinance organizations where she led product development and online acquisition efforts. She also previously served as Communications Director at Accion East, leading integrated marketing efforts to drive fundraising and lending efforts.
Ms. Kozien holds a BA in International Studies from Bentley University in Waltham, MA. She was a 2014 Aspen Institute Emerging Leaders in Microbusiness Fellow and is an executive member of the board of directors for Start Small Think Big, a Bronx, NY-based nonprofit providing pro bono legal and financial management services to underserved small business owners.
Valerie Malter, Co-Founder, CEO at Matarin Capital Management
Valerie Malter joined Matarin Capital Management as a co-founder and Managing Principal in 2010. Prior to joining Matarin, Valerie created the first Program for Social Impact at The Wharton School. In that capacity, she helped define and implement Wharton’s strategy for global participation across all aspects of social impact. Previously, Valerie held a variety of senior roles within the asset management industry and was most recently lead portfolio manager for the Private Equity Distribution Management (PEDM) team at J.P. Morgan Investment Management. Valerie has 30 years of asset management experience. Valerie holds a BSBA from Boston University, graduating magna cum laude in Finance, received her MBA from the Darden School of Business and holds a CFA Charter. Valerie is also on the Advisory Board of FirstRain Corporation and is a member of Golden Seeds, and Angel Investor network which funds women owned or run businesses. Valerie was a co-founder of Tri-S-Foundation, an organization which provided funding to community based programs aimed at establishing economic self-sufficiency for underprivileged women. Valerie co-authored the book “How to be a Growth Investor,” published by McGraw Hill in 1999.
KENNY NOVA, Founder, Stat Scientific
Kenny Nova is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and advisor. He is the founder of Stat Scientific, a company identifying, funding and commercializing patented innovations. He has led early-stage technology businesses to successful exit (RFID Journal acquired by Emerald Expositions and NHL ICE acquired by the National Hockey League) as well as launched and scaled digital and media businesses with world-class enterprises (Time-Warner, Random House and Ziff-Davis Publishing). He is an inventor, having been awarded a U.S. patent for the education industry’s first, real-time, one-on-one mobile test preparation game. He is a member of the New York Angels and the Mid Atlantic Bio Angels, an investor group focused exclusively on new and emerging life science companies. He mentors life science startups through the Bench to Bedside Initiative, an initiative comprised of Weill Cornell Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Rockefeller University. He received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and his BA from Tufts University. He has also studied at the Biodesign program at Stanford University.
Francesca Odell, Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Francesca is a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP with a multidisciplinary corporate practice focused on Latin American and Brazilian capital markets, M&A, restructuring, private equity and project finance transactions and has been a committed participant in the firm’s pro bono practice since she joined the firm in 1996.
Francesca’s corporate work has been recognized by numerous industry publications and legal rankings guides, and her leadership in Cleary’s pro bono practice has been a defining feature of her practice. Francesca has served for many years as the Advisory Board Chair for Legal Outreach, a program that prepares youth from underserved communities in New York City for college, including through a nationally-recognized internship program in which Cleary is a key participant. She also leads Cleary’s pro bono work on Pro Mujer, a global nonprofit that offers microfinance, business and healthcare support to impoverished women entrepreneurs, and has been a champion of Cleary’s pro bono small business clients for many years. Francesca has served in a number of key leadership roles at Cleary, including as the inaugural Chair of Cleary’s Committee on Retention & Promotion of Women, a member of the firm’s Global Executive Committee and Leadership Development Committee and the Chair of Cleary’s foreign lawyer program. Francesca is also currently Board Chair of The Retreat, the only provider of services for victims of domestic violence and their families on the East End of Long Island.
Francesca holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.
Jonny Price, Director of Fundraising at Wefunder
Jonny is originally from the UK, where he started his career in strategy consulting with Oliver Wyman, before joining the non-profit Kiva.org in 2011, as the Founder and Director of Kiva Zip, a direct, peer-to-peer lending pilot (later rebranded as Kiva U.S.). After seven years leading the growth of Kiva U.S., in early 2018 Jonny joined Wefunder as their Director of Fundraising. Wefunder is a Public Benefit Corporation (and B Corp) crowdfunding equity and debt investments in startups and small businesses up to $1M. Jonny serves on the Board of Directors of Start Small Think Big, and the Federal Reserve Board's Community Advisory Council. He has a degree in History from the University of Cambridge, and his proudest accomplishments are to be the husband of Ali, and the dad of Felicity and Carlyle.
Kristen Scheyder, Senior Vice President, Citi Foundation
Kristen leads the Citi Foundation’s Sustainable Cities grantmaking, where she helps cities and not-for-profits innovate equitable economic development and inclusive climate action strategies, while also focusing on scaling impact and financial sustainability to drive better outcomes for the low-income communities they serve.
Kristen has been a community development practitioner for 20+ years, with experience in the banking, government and nonprofit sectors. Prior to joining Citi in 2012, she was Deputy Director for the Northeast Region of NeighborWorks America, where she oversaw the provision of financial and technical resources to 80 NeighborWorks organizations across 11 states. Prior to that, she was Vice President for Community Development at HSBC Bank, where she managed a $225MM portfolio of CRA-qualified loans and investments to Community Development Financial Institutions and affordable housing initiatives. She also worked at Seedco, where she led the strategic planning and implementation of the Lower Manhattan Small Business Recovery Initiative that assisted more than 500 businesses affected by the events of 9/11. And earlier, she was the Assistant Managing Director for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Performance Management and Measurement.
She earned a Masters in Government Administration from the Fels Center of Government at the University of Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College. She lives in New York with her husband and three children.
Steven J. Slutzky, Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Steven Slutzky is a corporate partner and Co-Head of the firm’s Capital Markets Group and a member of the firm’s Private Equity Group. His practice focuses on securities offerings and related transactions, and he regularly represents issuers and underwriters in securities transactions including initial public offerings, high-yield debt offerings, secondary equity offerings, debt offerings, tender offers and consent solicitations and private placements.
Mr. Slutzky was named Dealmaker of the Year by The American Lawyer (2014) for his role in advising Verizon Communications Inc. on its $49 billion bond offering, the largest-ever corporate bond issue. Mr. Slutzky is also ranked as a leading capital markets lawyer in Chambers Global (2016), Chambers USA (2016) and IFLR1000 (2012). He is recognized in The Legal 500 US (2016) and one client praises him as one of the “best lawyers I have ever worked with” (2009). He is the co-author of “Tips For An Efficient Private Equity-Backed IPO” (Law360, 4 August 2014); “Advance Planning For Sponsor-Backed IPOs” (The Review of Securities & Commodities Regulation, 21 May 2014); “Conveyance Rule 159 of the Securities Act” (Securities Law 360, 7 April 2006); and “U.S. SEC’s Final Rules Regarding Securities Offering Reform” (BNA International World Securities Law Report, August 2005), among other articles. He also serves as a director of South Brooklyn Legal Services.
Mr. Slutzky received his B.S. from Lehigh University in 1988 in Finance and his J.D. from New York Law School summa cum laude in 1993 where he was a Notes and Comments Editor of the Law Review.
Krista K. Stein, Head of Brand & Channel Innovation, CT and BizFilings
Krista joined Wolters Kluwer in 2013 to help develop the small business segment for two of its brands. In her current role she manages partnerships, branding, PR, product marketing, digital advertising, channel marketing, and various corporate governance projects. Before that, she was with American Express for nine years, beginning with global brand management and culminating with three years based in Paris as the VP of Marketing & Product Development for the travel business’ Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region. Prior to American Express, Krista’s roots were primarily in marketing, branding, and general strategy for companies that included a startup ad agency, CNN & Turner Broadcasting, and Monster.com. She has an MBA from Emory University and Bachelors’ degrees in both English and French from Colby College, where she also ran the Volunteer Center.
Merry Sui Yuan, Managing Member, Asciano Partners
Merry Sui Yuan is the Managing Member of Asciano Partners. Prior to joining the firm in 2017, Merry Sui was a Partner and Managing Director at Latimer Light Capital, a New York-based investment fund backed by leading institutional investors. She previously held public and private investment roles at Tiger Legatus Capital Management and Bain Capital, where she focused on the consumer, retail, business services and financial sectors. Merry Sui currently serves on the Programming Committee for the HBS Club of New York and is an Angel Investor at HBS Alumni Angels of New York. Merry Sui received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.A. with Distinction from Cornell University.