Wasim Ahmad and Mohit Jolly elected Board of Directors co-chairs
March 1, 2023 – StartOut, the national nonprofit organization serving LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, today announced Brian Richardson as their new Chief Executive Officer. With professional experiences spanning the non-profit, tech and public sectors, Brian will begin his new role on March 6. He will succeed Andres Wydler, who is stepping down after more than seven years, where he transformed StartOut from a small start-up into a national non-profit organization empowering LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. Under Andres’ leadership, StartOut connected over 40,000 members and through its founder programs directly supported 1,500 LGBTQ+ companies, helping raise $1.3 billion in funding and contributing more than $5.5 billion in economic value.
“I could not be more thrilled with our selection for StartOut’s next CEO,” said Chris Young, outgoing Chair of the StartOut Board of Directors and CEO Search Committee Chair. “Brian will bring his track record of success to build on StartOut’s legacy, ensuring even more LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs have the resources and access they need to turn their visions into reality.”
Brian most recently served as Director of Lambda Legal’s Midwest Region, leading the LGBTQ legal defense group’s work in ten states. While at Lambda Legal, he led the organization’s national strategic planning process and oversaw a record expansion of fundraising, staffing and programming across the Midwest. Brian previously served as Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Policy and Communications Manager at Google, National Spokesperson at the Democratic National Committee and as a teacher with Teach for America. Brian graduated from the University of Chicago and earned his MBA from the University of California at Berkeley.
“In order for LGBTQ+ people to be fully equal in our society, we must have full economic opportunity,” Brian said upon his appointment. “StartOut provides real opportunities for our community members to gain the access and resources necessary to realize our dreams. By providing economic opportunity for individuals – especially for those of us most often left out – we are building lasting economic justice for the entire LGBTQ+ community.”
Chris Young, outgoing chair of the board is terming out after eight years of engaging and effective leadership. Signature programs launched under Andres and Chris’s tenure include the Growth Lab accelerator, the Investor Portal, a national mentorship program and the StartOut Index, analyzing the impact of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs on the economy. Today, StartOut boasts more than 25,000 active members.
“Leading StartOut to success had been a tremendous honor. With a great team, dedicated board and countless volunteers, we have exponentially grown our impact,” Andres said. “I am confident that under Brian’s leadership the StartOut team will “10x” their impact again and scale our LGBTQ+ entrepreneur community to a point where economic justice is irreversible.”
In addition to the CEO appointment, the StartOut Board of Directors elected a new slate of officers including incoming co-chairs Mohit Jolly and Wasim Ahmad. Mohit is a seasoned executive with experience in corporate strategy, marketing and operations. He currently serves as the Senior Director for Google’s Global Ads Marketing Division. Wasim is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder with more than 20 years of experience in a variety of startups, and currently focuses on product at Vault12.
“I have seen firsthand how under-represented groups tend to have limited access to capital, mentorship and opportunities,” Mohit said. “StartOut’s work is even more important in this current environment where tech innovations like AI have the potential to either improve outcomes for under-represented groups or perpetuate the biases that exist in our society. That better future starts with StartOut, ensuring diverse entrepreneurs get equitable access and have a fair shot at building companies.”
“It is tough for LGBTQ+ founders to access capital, especially when starting out,” said Wasim. “Under Brian’s leadership, StartOut will grow its ability to educate founders and investors and open doors to capital, helping LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs create lasting economic impact in the world.”
“Chris Young has done a tremendous job as a Board Chair for StartOut,” Mohit added. “Over his two terms, he’s helped improve governance and recruited a diverse board to better represents the LGBTQ+ community that StartOut strives to serve.”
Visit our Team Page for a full list of current Board Members.
“We are proud to lead a Board of Directors that reflects the sheer dynamism, high impact and broad diversity of the LGBTQ+ entrepreneur community,” Mohit and Wasim continued. “We know that working together with our excellent new CEO and the talented StartOut staff, we can accelerate the impact StartOut is already having.”
“Over the last several years, I’ve watched StartOut grow and thrive, helping LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs grow and thrive,” Chris concluded. “With Brian, Wasim and Mohit at the helm – and exciting projects like the StartOut Index, Growth Lab and expanded program options – I know StartOut will continue to open the door for even more LGBTQ+ founders to make our world a better place for us all.”
Brian will begin his new role on March 6. To learn more about StartOut or to make a contribution to assist in their efforts, visit www.startout.org.
Founded in 2009, StartOut, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is the largest national organization to support LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs with over 25K members nationwide. Its mission is to accelerate the growth of the LGBTQ+ community to drive its economic empowerment, building a world where every LGBTQ+ entrepreneur has equal access to lead, succeed, and shape the workforce of the future. StartOut helps aspiring LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs start new companies; supports current entrepreneurs as they grow and expand their existing businesses; and engages successful entrepreneurs as role models and mentors, on its online portal and through targeted events nationwide.