Vanessa Kirsch and Tulaine Montgomery named Co-CEOs of New Profit
Collaborative leadership model seeks to scale the organization’s work supporting proximate social entrepreneurs taking on systemic inequity
May 6, 2021: The national venture philanthropy organization New Profit announced that Tulaine Montgomery will become co-CEO alongside founder and current CEO Vanessa Kirsch. Together, the two will lead the organization forward at a transformational moment for America, with a strong focus on building a community of proximate social entrepreneurs and committed philanthropists who can drive progress on transforming America’s most inequitable systems.
“It’s time for this country to begin a new chapter – a ‘refounding.’ Philanthropy can do its part to help strengthen this nation by lifting up proximate leaders — those innovators whose insights and experiences have been systematically overlooked,” Tulaine Montgomery and Vanessa Kirsch said in a joint statement.
“As co-CEOs, we will double down on New Profit’s investments in solutions led by Black, Indigenous, Latino/a/x, rural and other leaders who have the expertise needed to transform inequitable systems across America.”
A Transformational Moment for America and New Profit
New Profit’s leadership evolution comes at a moment of immense challenges and opportunities for philanthropy and the country. The sector is leading in the response to COVID-19 and growing outcry over racial justice, providing essential support for people of color and communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and the steady social and economic toll of systemic inequity. As New Profit advances its own strategy for systems change, a collaborative leadership model is critical for convening and mobilizing a growing, multi-racial community of social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, policy leaders, and other changemakers to address these complex and overlapping inequities.
“In this era of reckoning and opportunity in our country, New Profit is poised to develop the proximate leadership and entrepreneurship vital to transform paradigms and rebuild our systems as equitable and just,” said Wendy Kopp, CEO and Co-founder of Teach For All (New Profit grantee-partner 2008-2012), Founder of Teach For America (New Profit grantee-partner 2000-2004) and a New Profit board member.
"Vanessa and Tulaine have spent years laying the foundation to meet this moment, and it’s so important that they’re stepping forward together with their diverse, collaborative, and visionary leadership."
Building on a Legacy of Support
Over the last 20 years, New Profit has supported more than 125 social entrepreneur-led organizations with a signature mix of unrestricted capital and capacity-building support. New Profit was an early supporter of transformative organizations like Teach For America, KIPP, First Place for Youth, and Year Up, and has more recently invested in organizations including Beyond 12, Braven, GirlTrek, and Envision Education, among others. In the current grantee portfolio, 48 percent of investments are in social enterprises led by women and 63 percent are in enterprises led by people of color.
A member of the founding group of advisors who helped Vanessa create and incubate New Profit, Tulaine formally joined the organization in 2010 and has been an executive team member since 2017. “Tulaine is a mentor to so many of my colleagues in the social justice space. She’s our confidante, our ‘consider this’, and our proximity to power. And she’s one of the bravest, most visionary strategists I’ve ever seen in action,” said Morgan Dixon, Co-Founder and CEO of GirlTrek, a New Profit grantee-partner. During her time at New Profit, Tulaine has led initiatives focused on strengthening education-to-employment pathways for underserved youth (Pathways Fund); driving resources and support to entrepreneurs who have been directly impacted by the American legal system (Unlocked Futures, backed by award-winning artist, activist, and founder of FREEAMERICA, John Legend and Bank of America); and building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization and philanthropic sector (Inclusive Impact Action Summit).
More recently, Tulaine has been the lead architect of New Profit’s Inclusive Impact strategy and Proximate Capital fund, which seeks to bridge the resource gap faced by Black, Latino/a/x, Indigenous, rural and other underinvested social entrepreneurs. New Profit is currently raising $100 million for the Proximate Capital fund to make immediate investments in dozens of vetted leaders.
“I’ve always wondered if the Civil Rights Movement would be funded in today’s landscape of philanthropy,” said Dixon of GirlTrek. “I’m so grateful for visionary leadership in the space. Leaders like Tulaine and Vanessa who ask questions, challenge assumptions, mobilize resources to change systems to impact the many – not the few. Tulaine and the New Profit community supported GirlTrek before there were even measures for movement building. They took a bet on us because change-making happens as much in resource-rich boardrooms as it does in the streets. New Profit is leading vital conversations and collaborations that will forever change America and I’m so happy that Tulaine and Vanessa are modeling this kind of leadership.”
As New Profit’s founder, Vanessa has been a trailblazer in philanthropy as one of the founders of the venture philanthropy field, driving portfolio growth and community engagement for over two decades. Vanessa has led the organization in setting a bold vision to shape the future of philanthropy and catalyze a diverse next generation of social entrepreneurs. Prior to founding New Profit in 1998, Vanessa launched two other social enterprises, Public Allies and the Women’s Information Network (WIN).
As co-CEOs, Vanessa and Tulaine will collaborate across all aspects of business while retaining their current focus areas: Vanessa will continue to lead portfolio support activities, fundraising across the portfolio, and supporting America Forward in policy leadership. Tulaine will continue to focus on leading Inclusive Impact, fundraising for Proximate Capital initiatives, and serving as New Profit’s lead public advocate.
“Vanessa, Tulaine, and New Profit took a chance on us when almost no one else saw the brilliance and potential of our students, and now, we are a national network serving as a critical lifeline for the most vulnerable young people in the education system,” said Eye to Eye Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer David Flink (New Profit grantee-partner 2013-2017), who was recently named a 2021 CNN Hero for his work as a national advocate for young people with learning and attention differences.
"In this fleeting moment of a singular opportunity to transform this system, Vanessa and Tulaine's eagerness to invest against the grain and speak truth to power will be a vital asset to the community of people who learn differently."
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About New Profit
New Profit is a nonprofit venture philanthropy organization that backs breakthrough social entrepreneurs who are advancing equity and opportunity in America. New Profit’s investment strategy focuses on building a breakthrough portfolio to take on entrenched systemic challenges in America, particularly by driving resources and support to Black, Indigenous, and Latino/a/x social entrepreneurs who have unique proximity to solutions, but face stark racial funding disparities in philanthropy; investing in social entrepreneurs with new systems change models across a range of issues; and creating jobs and opportunity by funding Future of Work innovation.