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Kathryn Finney headshot
Judge, Chicago

Kathryn Finney

Founding Managing Partner, Genius Guild

Through her venture fund, thirty-plus angel investments, and mentorship of entrepreneurs, Kathryn Finney is fostering economic, financial, and social opportunities for Black owned-businesses across the United States. Named one of the most influential women in tech, Kathryn is the founding Managing Partner of Genius Guild. This Chicago-based venture fund invests in scalable businesses led by Black founders using innovation to build and promote healthy communities. Some of her investments include Health in Her Hue, Stimulus, and Rarebreed.

Kathryn founded The Doonie Fund in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis with a $10,000 personal donation. Within six weeks, the fund grew to over $200,000, providing micro-investments to over 2,000 Black women-owned businesses. She is a Yale-trained epidemiologist, the founder and first CEO of digitalundivided, and the widely acclaimed #ProjectDiane research mastermind. With unique access to an untapped deal flow pipeline, Kathryn started digitalundivided after selling her company, The Budget Fashionista, a pioneering lifestyle media company. This notable action made her one of the first Black women to successfully transition from a startup.

The serial entrepreneur and investor has received numerous honors and awards for her innovative work and achievements, including an Honorary Doctorate from Mount Holyoke College, Aspen Financial Leaders Fellowship, PayPal Maggie Lena Walker Achievement Award, and many more. Kathryn is an Obama White House Champion of Change and served as a National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship member during the Obama Administration.

Her new book, Build The Damn Thing: How to Start a Successful Business if You’re Not a Rich White Guy, launched in June 2022 under the Penguin Random House Portfolio and made the Wall Street Journal bestsellers list in its first week of release. The book offers a hard-won, battle-tested guide to help every entrepreneur to succeed. Kathryn also shares a narrative of her journey and storied career as an entrepreneur, inclusion champion, and investor to encourage Black founders and women entrepreneurs to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams on her podcast, “Build The Damn Thing.” Kathryn and her work have been featured in Bloomberg, USA Today, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, NBC, Protocol, Crunchbase, Business Insider, AXIOS, Tech Crunch, Vanity Fair, Essence, Black Enterprise, and more.

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