Founder and CEO, Venture for America

People think that right now is a golden age of entrepreneurship. That’s not borne out by the facts. entrepreneurship among 18-34 year-olds is at a 24-year low. Since young firms account for two thirds of new jobs, what’s at stake is the country’s future.
— Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang is the Founder and CEO of Venture for America, a fellowship program that places top college graduates in start- ups for 2 years in emerging U.S. cities to generate job growth and train the next generation of entrepreneurs. Andrew has worked in start-ups and early stage growth companies as a founder or executive for more than twelve years. He was the CEO and President of Manhattan GMAT, a test preparation company that was acquired by the Washington Post/Kaplan in 2009. He has also served as the co- founder of an Internet company and an executive at a health care software start- up. He has appeared on CNN,CNBC, Morning Joe, Fox News, TIME, Techcrunch, the Wall St. Journal, and many other media outlets. Andrew was named a Champion of Change and a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship by the White House for his work with Venture for America and one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business.” He is a graduate of Columbia Law and Brown University. Andrew’s first book, Smart People Should Build Things, was published by Harper Business in early 2014. 


It’s important to have entrepreneurs in Detroit for the same reason it was important to have entrepreneurs here 100 years ago. Entrepreneurship is the quickest way to job creation.
— Pamela Lewis

Pamela Lewis is the Director of the New Economy Initiative (NEI), one of the nation’s largest philanthropic partnerships, funded by 12 national and regional foundations and managed by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. It is in its eighth year of innovative funding and the development of public/private partnerships that have helped create more than 17,000 jobs and 1,600 companies throughout the region. As a highly talented economic development expert, Lewis brings vision and process to guide the NEI team in strategic grantmaking and program development.

Lewis, who has an engineering degree from Michigan State University and a Masters of Business Administration from Spring Arbor University, served as deputy team leader of NEI before being named director. She joined the initiative in 2011 as senior program officer, after serving as a member of the Kauffman Foundation’s Detroit team, overseeing national entrepreneurial programs. She was recently named as one of the top 25 women in technology in Michigan and one of the 100 most influential women in Michigan by Crain’s Detroit.

Lewis began her career at DTE Energy, spending 15 years in roles ranging from analyst to manager of process management and continuous improvement initiatives. At NextEnergy, she managed entrepreneurial programs focused on accelerating clean energy startups. Lewis has been a resident of Metro Detroit all of her life.