Jenna Nicholas is the Co-Founder and CEO of Impact Experience which is focused on addressing structural racism and dismantling prejudice by confronting and engaging with the historical and ongoing realities of inequality and racial bias. Impact Experience applies insights from the disciplines of systems transformation and organizational development, design thinking, somatic psychology, and experiential learning to build bridges between organizations and among people that catalyze collaboration and investment. Impact Experience tackles society’s most pressing issues including post-hurricane rebuilding efforts in New Orleans, Houston and Puerto Rico, workforce training programs in former coal economy driven communities in West Virginia, building capital in people of color and women-run businesses, equitable and inclusive investment processes, supporting sustainable agriculture practices and working with corporations to integrate more of a climate focus into their retirement accounts and bank deposits.
Jenna is also the Managing Director of One Planet VC where she invests in early-stage businesses in transformative industries, such as education technology, marketplaces, media, and the future of mobility. There is a focus on investing into socially conscious companies, at least 60% of which are run by women and people of color. Jenna leads Corporate Development for One Planet Group which incubates, operates and invests in businesses. She has led the acquisition and integration of three companies over the course of 15 months. Jenna formerly founded Phoenix Global Impact, a firm that specializes in impact investing, social entrepreneurship, and strategic philanthropy. Through her firm, she project-managed Divest-Invest Philanthropy, a coalition of foundations, divesting from investments in fossil fuels and reinvesting in new economic solutions. Jenna spoke at TedX Portland about the Divest-Invest work.
Jenna has also worked with the World Bank Treasury on green bonds and other sustainability projects and with Toniic helping to support an impact investing community. She has worked closely with the Calvert Special Equities team, actively investing in companies and funds in the areas of education technology, financial inclusion, renewable energy, and sustainable agriculture. She is an advisor to the Nexus Global Youth Summit and Ethic, an online impact investing platform. Jenna graduated from Stanford University with an International Relations Honors Degree during which time she also read International Development at Oxford University.
Jenna is a Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA graduate, a PD Soros Fellow for New Americans, recipient of the Stanford Social Innovation Fellowship, an Echoing Green Fellow, Forbes 30 under 30 for Social Entrepreneurship, a Summit fellow, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a coach for the Roddenberry Foundation and a Young Leaders Council member of Milken Institute. Jenna also serves on the Impact Advisory Committee for Apollo Global Management. She also serves on the Investment Committee of the Wayfarer Foundation. Jenna has special links with China and co-taught a course at Tsinghua School of Economics and Management on Business Ethics, Sustainability, and Impact Investing. Jenna also co-chairs the Emerging Leaders Council of LISC, a community development finance institution that has invested over $1.5 billion into community development projects. Jenna is the Vice President of Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs, a community of over 1500 entrepreneurs and investors. She is an active member of the Baháí Faith.
Tell us about your life before the venture/ leading up to your venture?
I always knew that I wanted to be in the social impact space and I have been involved in impact investing since graduating from Stanford in 2012. Having worked in places such as the Calvert Funds, the World Bank Treasury, I saw how funders and companies were often disconnected from the communities they were intending to invest in. This led to the insight to co-found Impact Experience to build bridges.
Tell us something about your organization. What is it about and how is it helpful for people?
Impact Experience builds bridges and deep relationships between impact investors, foundations, corporates, entrepreneurs, artists and local leaders to co-create solutions with marginalized communities.
We partner with groups on an even playing field to generate trust, enhance strategy, and drive impact. Impact Experience has a unique approach to addressing the very critical (and timely) issues of structural racism and incorporates a variety of powerful tools to tackle prejudice by confronting and engaging with the historical and ongoing realities of inequality and racial injustice.
What has been the response of the consumers towards your venture?
Overwhelmingly, participants have said that it has been a transformative experience around their thinking and perspectives toward the people whom they interact with. That means that the folks who make the funding decisions are approaching those decisions in a far more equitable way and with greater awareness because of the connections we are able to forge. Our guests leave with lasting impacts on how to move forward with an equity mindset.
Here are some of our key highlights:
- 3500+ Participants
- Featured workshop at SOCAP 2022
- $300M+ Investment Capital sparked
- 200+ entrepreneurs supported
- 12k + Commitments made by our key stakeholders
- 1000+ strategic partnerships formed
How has your life changed because of your venture?
I have the honor of working with people who inspire me on a daily basis which makes me feel like there is hope for the world. It has been powerful for all of us to be on this journey of self discovery and to have a role in empowering a team of others to create meaningful change in the world.
Give a motivational message for the audience/women who are reading this.
Be persistent in pursuit of your goals despite obstacles in your path. You are more powerful than you realize.