The Board of Directors is the central governing body of StartOut, directly responsible for strategic direction, oversight and development of the organization. It consists of individuals who have a history of entrepreneurial experience and a strong passion building entrepreneurship in the LGBT community.

Patrick Grosso, Board of Directors Chair

Patrick Grosso is the former CTO of a social media company that, through multiple brands, including several internally funded startups, serves over 10 million members in more than 70 countries worldwide.

His career began at a successful Internet startup where, as their Senior Project Manager and a member of the core team, he was responsible for building the company’s infrastructure, managing its high profile clients, and leading companywide strategy initiatives.

Patrick is an alumnus of Columbia University and has a background in computer engineering, accounting and economics. He is passionate about technology startups and is active in the New York and Boston startup scenes, as well as the LGBT philanthropic and empowerment communities.


Dr. Vivienne Ming, Vice-Chair

vivienne-mingDr. Vivienne Ming, named one of 10 Women to Watch in Tech in 2013 by Inc. Magazine, is a theoretical neuroscientist, technologist and entrepreneur. She is chief scientist at Gild, an innovative startup that applies machine learning to predict optimal candidates for technology jobs, and to bring meritocracy to job markets. She joined Gild in 2012 to oversee R&D and IP development, solving problems in data mining, text analysis, cognitive modeling and algorithm development. Dr. Ming also co-founded her own cutting-edge startup, Socos, which applies cognitive modeling to create adaptive, personalized educational technology. She is also a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience pursuing her research in neuroprosthetics.

In her free time, Dr. Ming also explores augmented cognition using technology like Google Glass and has been developing a predictive model of diabetes to better manage blood glucose levels. She sits on the board of Our Family Coalition supporting LBGT families and speaks on issues of LGBT inclusion and gender in technology. She lives in Berkeley with her wife and their two children. Previously, she was a junior fellow at Standford’s Mind, Brain & Computation Center and earned her Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon. Her work and research has received extensive media attention including the New York Times, NPR, Nature, O Magazine, Forbes, and The Atlantic.

Robert Clauser, Treasurer

Robert is currently the CFO of WNET.ORG, the country’s leading public media company and parent of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. In his current role, he is leveraging his previous positions, including having led a division of Accenture’s Media & Entertainment practice. Robert was also founder of his own publicly-held SPAC, Media & Entertainment Holdings. He has also had a career in philanthropic entrepreneurship (including, Montage Entertainment, Alliance for the Arts, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Robert has a MBA from the University of Chicago, a BA from the University of MIchigan, and has completed film studies at NYC’s SVA.

Chris Sinton, Secretary & Chair Emeritus

Chris is an internet and philanthropic trailblazer. In 1994, at Cisco Systems, Chris noticed something called the “Web”. He pitched the CEO and Senior staff on the idea that Cisco could use the Web to interact with all its constituents. He asked to form and lead a business group responsible for the Web. They agreed. Chris found Customer Service building an online ordering system and pulled it together under a concept called Cisco Connection. He then identified and articulated a new business paradigm, the Global Networked Business.

In 1999 Chris turned to philanthropy. He was asked to lead Cisco’s efforts related to NetAid. Launched with global concerts, they needed to make real their idea of the Internet for global philanthropy. Chris was loaned to work with staff he selected and representatives from the United Nations. He saw just as the Internet had changed business, it could change the way people helped each other. Chris’ work with NetAid ended with full-time staff taking over late 2000. In 2001, Chris turned his attention to a plan AOL was floating to create a web site for giving to all nonprofits. Additionally, nonprofits would be taught to use the Internet. Chris proposed to Cisco’s CEO that he start an ePhilanthropy Office, and as its 1st initiative, take this plan and make it real. Chris co-founded and was President & CEO of Network for Good. As of February 2014, they’ve raised $1 billion for nonprofits nationally and helped 100,000+ nonprofits. Additionally he was a founding board member of the ePhilanthropy Foundation.

Chris left Network for Good in 2002 to care for his health. Since then he’s served on various boards, produced a documentary of an early LGBT civil rights action, and advises startups.

Lorenzo Thione, Co-Founder and Chair Emeritus

Lorenzo Thione is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for the intersection of technology, art, design, communication and social value.

Lorenzo is a Tony-Nominated Broadway producer (Catch Me If You Can, American Idiot, Elling) and the co-creator and lead producer of Allegiance (a new Broadway-bound musical starring George Takei and Lea Salonga) for which he spearheaded social-media viral strategies that led to astounding growth and unprecedented awareness and audience engagement for a Broadway show in its development phase, and to the founding of The Social Edge, where he serves as Chief Executive.

He previously co-founded startups Powerset (acquired by Microsoft in 2008) and  he is an investor and advisor for startups such as, Etacts (now Salesforce), ChoicePass (now Salesforce), Gobble, and Lucid Charts.

Lorenzo is the co-founder and board chair emeritus of StartOut, the leading non-profit dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship within the LGBT community. He’s an outspoken LGBT advocate and was named one of the most influential LGBT people in tech in 2014 by Business Insider.

He was born and raised in Milan, and completed my studies at the University of Texas at Austin, from which he holds a M.S. in Computer Engineering.

James Bain

James Bain is currently Head of Sales and Account Management for Parking Panda, the leader in online parking reservations. Parking Panda allows drivers to find and reserve parking online, ahead of time through web and mobile applications and enables garages and lots to market their inventory through an online channel.

After earning his MBA from Chicago Booth in 2011, James joined Groupon as a City Manager, in charge sales and operations of all daily deals in such high profile cities as Detroit, Minneapolis and Toledo. In addition, James worked as a Senior Manager in Sales Operations, the merchant research and lead management departments—optimizing efficiencies and shortening the sales cycle for 800 sales representatives across the US.

Outside of the tech world, James enjoys satisfying a deep wanderlust, being outside and NPR. James is excited to join the Start Out board and help launch the Chicago chapter.

Michael Berl

Michael is a proven business leader and self-starter with over a decade of experience in product and business development.

Michael joined Uber in early 2014 with a focus on partnerships and user acquisition. In April, he began work with the internal pilot team building Uber for Business, a new product which launched globally this past September.

In his early career, Michael left a top performing Wall Street team at JPMorgan to found a trendsetting gluten free food business, Kyotofu. The business received numerous awards and critical acclaims including “Top 10 Small Businesses in America” — American Express.

Michael developed the successful gift site, launched multiple Kyotofu franchises in South Korea, and built a booming wholesale business with clients like Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma, and Virgin America.

Michael is an alumnus of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and a San Francisco native.


Alex Capecelatro

Alex Capecelatro is the CEO & Founder of At The Pool, a social discovery platform making it easy to connect with like-minded people nearby. At The Pool has been featured in Forbes, LA Times, TechCrunch, and more, with members in more than 100 countries.

Alex received his bachelors degree in Materials Science & Engineering from UCLA in 2010. Prior to starting At The Pool, Alex lead sustainability initiatives at electric-car company Fisker Automotive and consulted for firms including the X Prize Foundation, the Naval Research Lab, and Aerogel Technologies. In his spare time, Alex works with the LA Coalition on economic development, is an avid hiker, cyclist, and skydiver, and loves to travel.

Joe DiPasquale, Co-Founder

Joe is a co-founder and Director of StartOut and founder and CEO of Regroup. In 2006, Joe founded Regroup, the leading mass messaging solution for large organizations. Regroup provides mass messaging for cities, companies, and schools, such as San Francisco, Hitachi, and Stanford.

Previously, he worked in Strategy Consulting for Bain, IBM, and McKinsey, and in investment banking at Deutsche Bank. He has a passion for media and technology, and was a member of the pre-launch team at Logo TV.

Joe completed his BA at Harvard and MBA at Stanford. He grew up in Connecticut and Alabama, and worked in Amsterdam, Berlin, and New York City before moving to Silicon Valley. He now splits his time between SF and NYC. In a former life, Joe was a competitive figure skater and official for US Figure Skating.

Charles Lorum

Charles is a media & entertainment-industry professional currently working in corporate affairs at Warner Music Group in New York City. Prior to joining WMG, he handled business affairs for MTV Networks and was instrumental in launching several networks, including Logo. Charles also provides strategic consulting for various local startups and small businesses in the NYC area and is a contributing writer to PolicyMic, a news & analysis platform for Millennials.

Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he studied at the University of Wisconsin there for his Bachelors in Business Administration and Hunter College for Russian studies. Charles volunteers and supports several organizations, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, The Center, and AFER.

Darren Spedale, Co-Founder and Founding Chair

Darren Spedale conceived of StartOut in early 2009 and became the Founding Chairman of its Board of Directors, a position he held until 2012. He is currently the Founder and CEO of FamilyByDesign, a social network which provides a new parenting option for millions of adults in the form of “parenting partnerships”.

Mr. Spedale has been researching non-traditional families since college, when he published a thesis on “domestic partnerships”. He thereafter spent two years on a Fulbright Fellowship to Scandinavia analyzing how European countries were legally recognizing “modern families”. As a subset of this research, he published a book on same-sex marriage with Oxford University Press. He is currently writing another book on parenting partnerships, based on research and interviews with dozens of couples currently in such relationships.

Previously, Mr. Spedale was Co-Founder of A-List Global Media LLC, a media and entertainment company that produced consumer products. Its first product, PopCardz, was sold in over 5,000 stores globally such as Wal-Mart, Target, and K-Mart. Before business school, he spent two years with a start-up venture that raised funds for non-profit organizations through online activities and unique content. He has served as an advisor to several start-ups.

Mr. Spedale has also been an Investment Banker at Lehman Brothers covering technology companies, and was a co-founder of Lehman’s Venture Capital Coverage initiative. Mr. Spedale has additionally practiced law as a Corporate Attorney at White & Case LLP.

He holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, a law degree from Stanford Law School, and received a Bachelor’s degree from Duke University.

Marie Trexler

Marie Trexler is an experienced venture investor with a passion to assist entrepreneurs. She is the Director of Entrepreneur Services at Astia, a 13-year-old non-profit focused on helping women-led, high growth ventures succeed.

Previously, Marie started up and led investments for Good Capital’s Social Enterprise Expansion Fund, a double bottom line venture fund, where she remains on the Board of Advisors. She sits on the boards of Galefore Capital (a venture philanthropy fund supporting LGBT social enterprises) and Emerge California (a non-profit that trains Democratic women to run for public office).

Marie ran business development for Intel Corp’s largest business unit, the Digital Enterprise Group. And the core of her venture investment experience comes from seven years at Intel Capital, Intel’s multi-billion dollar strategic investment arm, where she ran investment teams in both the US and Europe focused on making venture capital investments in high tech startups.

With more than 60 venture investments under her belt, Marie was also responsible for starting up Intel Capital’s investment program in Eastern Europe where she identified and consummated Intel’s first equity investment, as well as first acquisition, in Russia. Prior to Intel, Marie built her emerging markets private equity and banking experience at the International Finance Corporation (World Bank), Slovak American Enterprise Fund, ING Barings and EurAmerica Capital. She graduated from Dartmouth College and earned an MBA from the University of Virginia.


Michael Witbrock

Michael Witbrock is founder and CEO of Curious Cat Company, the maker of Curious Cat, a mobile social guide and companion based on strong AI, and is a founder of NZ.COM, one of the very first web-based travel advice sites.  He has also acted as CTO of Envigence d.o.o, a Slovenian Green Infrastructure firm, as VP for Research for Cycorp, one of the world’s leading AI research companies, and as principal scientist at Lycos. To encourage the positive use of AI technology, Michael acts as an advisor and is a frequent speaker at European agencies working in the area of eGovt.

Michael has a PhD in computer science from Carnege Mellon University, and a BSc in Psychology from the University of Otago, in his home country of New Zealand.



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