StartOut Elects New Board Officers to Grow Impact

February 15, 2017 9:24 pm
Written by: StartOut

StartOut, the leading national non-profit organization that supports, educates and connects LGBTQ entrepreneurs, is proud to announce the election of its new board leadership team.  The composition strengthens the organization’s commitment to diversity and impact across the United States and beyond.  StartOut’s national study showed that LGBTQ entrepreneurs create jobs throughout the country, even in difficult environments.

Dr. Vivienne Ming, previously Vice-Chair, accepted to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors.  Vivienne is the co-founder and CEO of Socos, where machine learning and cognitive neuroscience combine to maximize students’ life outcomes, and serves as visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. Vivienne is a sought-after speaker worldwide on issues of LGBT inclusion and gender in technology.  A member of StartOut’s research team that published “The State of LGBT Entrepreneurship in the US,” she will continue to drive the organization to measure our community’s impact on society as a whole. “It’s a tremendous honor for me to build on StartOut’s seven years of expertise and guide us to international recognition not just through our powerful programs, but with further proof of our community’s impact on positive outcomes,” Vivienne said.

Los Angeles based Christopher Fraley joined the Board and will serve as Vice Chair.  Chris recently founded evolve, a real estate investment company focused on capturing the premium associated with the evolution of mixed-use environments. Prior to evolve, Chris was a Partner and Head of Research for Rockwood Capital, where he worked for over 13 years. Chris exemplifies StartOut’s appeal across industry sectors and brings a highly successful track record in the non-profit sector to the organization. Committed to giving back, Chris serves as director of GLAAD and the Westside Urban Forum, and is a co-founder of the Lesbian and Gay Real Estate Group (LGREG).

Nicole Dogwill, board member since 2015, serves as the new Secretary.  A partner in Joseph & Cohen’s San Francisco office, she is a skilled litigator with experience in advising and defending established and emerging for-profit and non-profit companies, as well as their directors and officers, on fiduciary duty, corporate governance and business matters.  Nicole is the former president of the National LGBT Bar Association, and is committed to continuing to give back to the community through StartOut and other forms of civic engagement.

New York based media executive Robert Clauser, now in his sixth year on the StartOut board, will continue to serve as Treasurer and round out the team of officers.  Robert is the COO of Tina Brown Live Media, Women in the World Media, and the American Justice Summit – a collection of media companies which give a platform to global women on the front lines who have saved or enriched lives as well as the policy makers or practitioners championing US judicial reform. Robert joined Tina following his successful exit as COO of the startup Unigo Group.

After five years of board service and two years of strong leadership, outgoing chair Patrick Grosso will continue to lend his expertise and dedication as a member of the board of directors executive committee.  “Two years ago, I took the reigns to advance StartOut both organizationally and online.  With both executive director and staff now firmly in place and our highly scalable online platform live, we are ready for our next phase of growth. I’m most grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to achieve these major goals with my fellow board members and am excited to support the expansion to have an even greater impact on our community.” Patrick is the CTO of ConferenceDirect, a global meetings solutions company and the former CTO of Online Buddies, a social media company that, through multiple brands, serves over 10 million members in more than 70 countries worldwide.

StartOut also thanks outgoing Board members Darren Spedale, a co-founder of StartOut, Marie Trexler, Michael Berl, and Michael Witbrock for their amazing and dedicated work throughout their years of service to our community.




Founded in 2009, StartOut is a national non-profit 501(c)(3) organization fostering and developing entrepreneurship in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (“LGBTQ”) community. StartOut helps aspiring LGBTQ entrepreneurs start new companies; supports current LGBTQ entrepreneurs as they grow and expand their existing businesses; and engages successful LGBTQ entrepreneurs as role models and mentors. StartOut’s goals are to support, educate, inspire and connect members of the LGBTQ community around entrepreneurship and business leadership. For more information, please visit

To engage and support the ongoing program management for this groundbreaking portal, you may join the StartOut Community at Your generous donation will help StartOut continue to build on its tremendous momentum and extend engagement among LGBTQ entrepreneurs and their supporters worldwide.

Media Contact:

Andres Wydler, Executive Director

Phone:  415 275 2446