An Important Message from the Executive Director

Dear Ventures community,

I want to begin this message with lots of gratitude for the amazing journey that I have been on at Ventures for more than 14 years of my career. As many of you know, I am optimistic and always like to start with a positive and growth mindset even when conversations or communications are challenging, bittersweet, or sad. With that said, I want to share the news that I have decided to transition out of my position as Executive Director of Ventures, and my last day leading this amazing organization will be July 31st.

As I reflect on the last 14 and a half years, I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish, creating a stronger community in Seattle, throughout the Puget Sound region, and even across Washington State, supporting small business and creating economic opportunities for individuals with limited resources and unlimited potential.

I think back to when I was hired in 2008 by our amazing leader Cheryl Sesnon (at the organization then called Washington CASH), to create a program for Spanish-speakers to support my Latinx community . I was young and entrepreneurial, and as a first-generation, undocumented, Latino immigrant and a member of the LGBTQ community, I knew firsthand the experiences and challenges of the community Ventures serves. I believed even then in the power of our work to alleviate poverty, break generational poverty, and create wealth for families and communities of people like me.

In the years that followed, I fell in love with the nonprofit sector, philanthropy, and the impact that teams of community members, staff, board, volunteers, donors, and partners can achieve together.  I learned through hard work that social change can happen, and I experienced many inspiring success stories  alongside Ventures entrepreneurs each day.

In 2014, I was honored (and a little surprised) to step up as Ventures’ Executive Director, during a time when the organization faced many challenges, and was about to close the doors. In spite of the encouragement of my peers, I did not feel “ready” to lead, nor did I have the credentials to do such a complicated job, but my huge admiration and respect for our clients compelled me to take a risk. The challenges we faced as a team were significant, with a large financial deficit, low staff morale, and programs in need of innovation and restructuring, we had our work cut out for us. Ventures’ dedicated management team (Laura Fletcher  , Jen Hughes, Brittany Kirk  and James Dunn  ) was willing to do extra work to turn the organization around. It was not easy, but in less than a year, we were able to restructure the team, balance the budget, and start an exciting phase as a rebranded organization called Ventures. It was 2015 and even though I still felt unsure in my new role, I worked hard to embody the confidence and leadership skills Ventures teaches each day to our clients, propelled on the difficult days by the promise of lives and communities transformed by access to resources, tools, and support.

Over the years that have followed since then, I have been so proud of the Ventures team  as we have worked together to build a community-led strategic plan driven by a commitment to inclusivity and equity . We have established ourselves as a leading CDFI. (Community Development Financial Institution) in the Pacific Northwest, providing training , coaching  ,  incubation , advocacy , and access to capital   for nearly 1,000 people each year. We have also navigated one of the most complicated times for the world, facing a global pandemic and a national reckoning with widespread racial injustice.

I am confident that all this work has built a solid foundation for Ventures to continue making a great impact in the lives of our clients and their communities.

I have decided to move on from Ventures—while the organization is in this place of strength–because it is time for a new phase of growth for the organization, and I want to create space for others to lead. This transition comes after several years of succession planning in close collaboration with the Board of Directors  and members of our staff management team. We are on solid financial footing, have a strong community of donors and partners, and we have an interim leadership plan in place to ensure a smooth transition appointing our Associate Director Laura Fletcher who brings more than 9 years of experience at Ventures as our interim Executive Director to support the team and the board in creating the process for hiring my successor. I am confident in the leadership and vision of the team that I leave behind.

I will always cherish my time at Ventures, and will continue to support the organization in new ways in the years that come. I look forward to watching all the organization does from a new perspective as donor and community champion. I will also be available for the team during the transition as an advisor as needed.

For now, I will be taking some time to reflect, write, travel the world, and spend time with my husband and family in Mexico. I will be back for my next adventure in 2023. Stay tuned and connect with me on my LinkedIn profile because I will be announcing my new adventure on that platform.

I appreciate all of you for your long-term support and dedication to our mission, my heart is full, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity that was given to me to be your leader.

Cheers,

Beto Yarce