Champions of Change 2021
In honor of Juneteenth, the inaugural GV Champions of Change List showcases ten outstanding leaders across the GV portfolio who have made a difference to their company’s or industry’s approach to equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts. Click below to learn more about each champion's incredible efforts. Learn more about our list here.
Sr. Director of People Operations
Sr. Director of People Operations, SambaNova Systems
As the Senior Director of People Operations at SambaNova Systems, Rachel Birks has established a strong executive focus on diversity and inclusion that influences how the company operates its business every day. Rachel has been a tremendous advocate for diversity and inclusion at SambaNova since her arrival, introducing Weekly DEI Circle forums, driving changes in their university relations and recruiting, and spearheading the community fund at SambaNova which supports organizations that help more get women into engineering.
Birks leads the team that is scaling SambaNova for growth, developing employees’ careers, and has built and maintained an open and inclusive culture. Prior to SambaNova, Rachel worked for Sauce Labs Inc., where she managed all of Human Resources, Recruiting and Facilities.
"Bring your employees along on the journey and empower them to have ownership in the process and programs. DEI initiatives can't come from a single department; they need to be a group effort and the process can be a slow one even with a great deal of investment. Find peace in that it all can't change overnight, but that you are making moves in the right direction each day and with every conversation."
Kisha Davis, MD MPH
VP, Health Equity
Kisha Davis, MD MPH
VP, Health Equity, Aledade, Inc.
Dr. Kisha Davis is spearheading Aledade’s efforts to eliminate health disparities, engage health centers, and pioneer Medicaid value-based care strategy. Dr. Davis has spent her career advancing health equity through direct patient care and physician leadership.
Dr. Davis is the VP of Health Equity at Aledade. As a family physician, she has practiced in integrative primary care and community health center settings in Maryland. She has leveraged several leadership roles with the American Academy of Family Practice to promote health equity and encourage diversity and inclusion in family practice (where she was a national AAFP board member as well as President and Board Chair of her state chapter).
Dr. Davis is a former White House fellow and was recently appointed Vice Chair of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) which advises Congress, HHS, and states on Medicaid policy. She received her degree in medicine from the University of Connecticut and her Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, and her undergraduate degree from Duke University.
"Equity takes thoughtfulness, intentionality, a willingness to explore data and champion diverse voices - at every level."
Dr. Manan K.
Senior Quantitative Scientist
Dr. Manan K.
Senior Quantitative Scientist, Verana Health
Dr. Manan K. is a Senior Quantitative Scientist at Verana Health. Trained as a solar physicist, they entered the health tech space with a passion to improve patient care across diverse communities. As a queer person of South Asian descent, Manan is driven to bring social justice conversations to work and is interested in starting dialogues around inclusive hiring practices, the importance of rigorous sensitivity/bias training, and exposing the inherent biases within data and algorithms.
At Verana Health, Manan executes real-world evidence research in ophthalmology and neurology, curates disease data stories in the American Academy of Neurology’s Axon Registry, and actively develops strategies for more equitable and inclusive health tech research methodologies. Prior to Verana, Manan was a postdoctoral research scientist at Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory and has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
"Start developing coalitions, solidarity, and educational frameworks for external movements early in your organization through active conversations with colleagues and leadership. This is especially valuable in rapidly growing organizations as they demonstrate their commitment to equity and inclusion to a diverse talent pool."
Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Quartet Health
Jiun is Quartet Health’s first Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and in just a few short months has led a comprehensive DEI strategy across the organization, deftly leveraging data and advising policies across Quartet. Externally, she has committed to increasing accessibility for underrepresented patients to help Quartet better connect diverse patients with the best mental health care for them.
Jiun was the first Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Samsung Next, where she created inclusive strategies to increase diversity within Next and across the ventures ecosystem, and previously led DEI programs at Squarespace. She has over a decade of experience building DEI strategy within education, philanthropy, tech, and ventures, and began her career as an educator in Harlem. Jiun holds a B.S. in Economics from Wesleyan University and a M.A. in Education from Hunter College through her experience with Teach For America.
"Growing up in predominantly white areas, I was often the only person who looked like me, and my first career experiences were teaching and coaching in Black and Latinx communities. While my experiences navigating being Asian in America pushed me to pursue DEI work, I stay in this work in service of other communities as I know all people’s liberation is connected. I believe that we best foster EDI when we work in solidarity with one another and seek justice for those groups that the system has most marginalized."
VP, Deputy General Counsel
VP, Deputy General Counsel, Viz.ai
As Deputy General Counsel for Viz.ai, Angela Lim is deeply engaged in the EDI issues, and has been for decades. Angela has been an important voice in educating and acting in the face of increased acts of violence and discrimination against Asian Americans. She serves as a Board Member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, representing over 50,000 law professionals in North America. Lim is also on the Board of Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization which advocates for the Civil Rights of the LGBTQ community.
Lim is a native Houstonian. She started her legal career clerking for a Bankruptcy Judge in the Northern District of Texas in Dallas. Lim is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and of the University of Houston Law Center. For the past ten years, she has been involved in venture-backed companies focusing on Digital Health in the Bay Area. Prior to working in the Digital Health sector, she held positions in the legal departments at VeriSign, Inc., PeopleSoft, Inc., Successfactors, Inc., Castlight Health, Inc., and Grand Rounds, Inc. She founded LGBTQ employee groups at two of these companies.
"Don't be afraid to speak and live your truth."
Chief Business and Legal Officer
Chief Business and Legal Officer, Kindbody
Shilpa Patel spearheaded the launch of Kindbody’s grant for Fertility for Colored Girls, which provides minority and underserved Americans with access to fertility and family-building services. She also has participated in a series of diversity and inclusion events on race and fertility, and LGBTQ family-building.
Patel serves as the Chief Business & Legal Officer for Kindbody, a company on a mission to make family-building an inclusive and affordable reality for all. She brings a broad background to her role at Kindbody, having previously worked in the digital health tech space at Quartet, a mental health company, and Oscar, a health insurance company (both in the GV portfolio at some point). She was previously trained at Foley & Lardner and Garfunkel Wild.
"Listen to your employees and their needs. Family-building pathways take many forms, and can be difficult and demoralizing. Choose partners who support your employees with compassion and kindness."
Senior Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager
Senior Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager, Multiverse
Siobhan Randell is the Senior Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Manager at Multiverse, a tech startup building an outstanding alternative to university and corporate training across the UK and United States. Inclusion is central to the mission of Multiverse, and Randell works with all teams across the business to widen access to professional apprenticeships and chairs the Multiverse Diversity & Inclusion steering committee. The daily work she does has a significant impact on the lives of both the 250 employees, as well as the 3,000+ strong apprentice community.
Randell has worked in the social impact space for eight years and is passionate about innovating solutions for societal challenges. She is a member of the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) where she was honored as one of the 100 most influential and pioneering individuals in tech in 2020.
"As a biracial, White British, Black Jamaican woman, it means so much to receive this recognition in honour of Juneteenth. Whilst I haven't had the opportunity to trace my family tree, it is possible that my ancestors in the Caribbean were enslaved. We have come so far but we have so much work to do. My advice to anyone looking to foster DEI within the workplace, especially in a fast-growing startup, is to start with the data. Ensure you're continuously identifying the areas for improvement that can make a real impact, and track your progress."
Co-founder and CEO
Co-founder and CEO, Lovevery
As co-founder and CEO of Lovevery, Jessica Rolph has made equity and inclusion core to product development and company building. Rolph believes deeply in creating a foundation for how children understand the world, and supporting parents in raising kind, inclusive, and anti-racist children through creating products that celebrate all backgrounds, like dolls with multiple skin tones and books that showcase children in all kinds of families.
Prior to Lovevery, Rolph was the co-founder and COO of Happy Family, helping to launch, build and lead the company to its position as a top organic baby and toddler brand in the US before its acquisition by Group Danone in 2013. She also co-founded the Climate Collaborative, a non-profit organization helping companies in the natural products industry take meaningful steps to reverse climate change. She is an Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellow and was awarded the Park Leadership Fellowship, graduating from Cornell’s Johnson School in 2004. Jessica also holds a BA from Cornell University, where she graduated cum laude.
“Research shows that even in infancy, preferences towards race begin to form, and that raising children to be “colorblind” perpetuates the false narrative that race is invisible. At Lovevery, we work to give parents tools, activities, and information needed to dismantle bias and raise anti-racist children with a strong sense of self.”
RA Session II
Taysha Gene Therapies
President, Founder and CEO
RA Session II
President, Founder and CEO, Taysha Gene Therapies
As one of the few African American biotechnology CEOs, Taysha Gene Therapies Founder and President RA Session II understands firsthand the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. Since launching Taysha in April 2020 with a $30 million seed round, he has built a company committed to hiring and empowering qualified employees from all walks of life. He has staffed both the executive leadership team and board of directors with diverse talent, including women, immigrants and people of color.
Session has nearly 20 years’ experience in the life sciences industry, primarily in business development, corporate strategy and financial roles. Previously, he served as Chief Business Officer of the gene therapy subsidiaries of BridgeBio, as well as Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Business Development at AveXis. As a native Texan, Session expresses optimism in seeing Juneteenth celebrated more broadly on the national stage.
"I’m not an exception. I’m an example of what can happen when opportunity meets preparation.”
Regulatory Compliance Lead, UK
Regulatory Compliance Lead, UK, GoCardless
Jade Skeete is the UK Regulatory Lead at GoCardless. In 2019 she co-founded the company's Black, Ethnic and Asian Minority (BEAM) ERG to increase career opportunities for the BEAM community and attract more diverse talent into the company. She also spearheaded GoCardless' efforts to track its EDI progress more broadly. In 2020, Jade led GC's efforts around the murder of George Floyd, police brutality, and racism. Through her passion and willingness to speak with vulnerability to the whole company, she succeeded in raising £15,000 internally to support anti-racism efforts.
Jade specializes in regulatory compliance, building scalable compliance frameworks with a creative and solutions-focused mindset. She previously held roles at HSBC and at Worldpay, where she was Chair of the Women of Worldpay London Chapter leading initiatives that supported gender balance.
"Be open to learning! Have the uncomfortable conversations. Keep on pushing for change. It may take some time to see the impact, but it's worthwhile. Supporting diversity and inclusion builds a better future for the generations to come."