Donna Harris is cofounder and CEO of 1776, a global incubator and seed fund. Under her leadership 1776 has grown from idea to a globally recognized brand at the center of worldwide startup activity. Launched only two years ago, 1776 now has campuses in Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and San Francisco, and operates a venture fund making investments worldwide. Through 1776, nearly 300 young companies have been founded and are growing and creating jobs in the Washington, DC region with thousands of others being supported by 1776 around the globe. With visitors ranging from President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron to CEO’s of America’s top technology companies, 1776 has become the singular go-to-stop in DC for political and corporate leaders as they seek to engage in the innovation economy.
Prior to launching 1776, Donna served as the Managing Director at the Startup America Partnership where, working in partnership with the White House, the Kauffman Foundation and the Case Foundation, she led the formation of entrepreneurial communities across the United States and integrated them into a national startup ecosystem. Her work was the precursor to the Startup Nations initiative, enabling informal knowledge sharing among economies to help accelerate new and young firm formation in their countries in order to create jobs, build economies and expand human welfare. Donna remains on the board of directors of Global Entrepreneurship Network, which oversees the Startup Nations initiative.
Prior to joining Startup America, Donna was Vice Chair of Interpoint Group, a government markets, government relations, and public affairs strategy and management firm, which generated nearly $8 billion in revenue while passing or defeating legislation, and executed public affairs campaigns for corporations, non-profits, foundations, and governments globally. Under her leadership, the company grew 10x and was acquired by Pegasus Capital Partners.
She was also previously Founder and CEO of Kinderstreet, which sold software in the education, sports, and recreation markets. Donna grew the company from concept to a national leader with 900+ user schools in 41 states, and it was acquired by Arc Capital Development in 2005. She was also Vice President at Centromine, a provider of web-based clinical and fiscal systems in the Health and Human Services industry. There, she led all product and market strategy and assisted in raising $11M in venture capital financing. Centromine was acquired by the Echo Group in 2000.
Donna serves as a Trustee of the Federal City Council, is on the Board of Directors of the Global Entrepreneurship Network and is also an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Georgetown University. She is also an active angel investor as a cofounder of K Street Capital. Donna is also a frequent speaker and contributor to publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Huffington Post. Recognized as one of Washington, DC’s Power 100 by Washington Business Journal and Washington Life, and as a Tech Titan by Washingtonian Magazine, Donna has become one of the most influential leaders in Washington’s new economy.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and MBA with distinction from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.