Passing the Baton
Juan Lopez

August 27, 2018

Dear Ventures friends,

It is with a mix of sadness and gratitude that I announce my decision to step down from the Ventures Board of Directors. While I will miss being part of this organization, I’m very confident that our strong team will continue propelling Ventures forward.

I joined the board of Ventures (then Washington CASH) in June 2012. Since then, board service has been a learning experience for me and provided me with a platform to become an active member in my community with the intent of helping aspiring entrepreneurs.

Throughout the years I have been truly humbled by the individuals that we serve, who relentlessly pursue their dreams and aspirations through small business ownership. They have been my inspiration to be the best board member I could be and over the years, I witnessed how each graduating class formed better and better entrepreneurs. Nothing energized me more than learning about their ventures and having in-depth conversation about their products, services and business models – their enthusiasm is indeed contagious!

Ventures’ staff also inspires this passion. This team is certainly on a mission to help business owners be successful, and they are as entrepreneurial as their clients. The breadth of programs that Ventures offers today is a proof of that entrepreneurial spirit – and unquestionably a direct result of staff’s willingness to iterate until they find what their business owners need, which is exactly what entrepreneurs do.

The Board of Directors has also been on a journey. First, we realized that we needed to become a more active and diverse board to serve Ventures more effectively. To do this, we invited Ventures alumni to join our board and now our entrepreneurs have a voice in strategic board decisions.

In addition to this, we tailored our board service to Ventures’ needs through systematic strategic planning. Throughout this process, we identified fundraising as one of the strategic priorities for the board and implemented innovative programs and campaigns to raise funds. I’m especially proud of the impact that we have been able to have through our InnoVentures pitch competition and our Pitch In crowdfunding campaigns these last two years.

Lastly, our board learned that we can have a significant impact by just simply becoming ambassadors for Ventures’ mission and its message. Today, more than ever, our board is actively engaged in shaping Ventures’ future and it has been a very rewarding experience for me to be part of this journey.

Going forward, Melissa Forziat will lead the Board of Directors and I’m confident that the board will achieve great things under her leadership. Melissa has been on our board for the past six years and brings not only knowledge about Ventures and the individuals that we serve but also an entrepreneurial spirit, being an entrepreneur herself. I want to thank Melissa for being willing to take over this exciting challenge, and I wish her and my fellow board members nothing but the best going forward.

Finally, I want to thank Ventures staff, our aspiring entrepreneurs and my fellow board members for giving me the opportunity to lead the board. It has been a truly rewarding and humbling experience for me. I’m indebted to this organization and I will always be a strong Ventures supporter.

I wish the Ventures team and our current and future entrepreneurs all the best, and I am looking forward to seeing what Ventures has in store for the years ahead!