Ethical standards in the business world are quickly escalating—with 63% of customers wanting to see more ethical practices from companies. This is instigating a higher demand for morality in enterprise, and in turn, is shifting the way that leaders hold both themselves and their companies accountable. As a leading spokesperson for a business, business leaders are in charge of determining how to invest in their surrounding communities for the greater good.
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. It has a tried and true reputation for gathering diverse, nonpartisan thought leaders, creatives, and scholars to address some of the world’s most complex problems. One program started by the Institute is the Henry Crown Fellowship Program—which is designed to help business leaders gain expert guidance on how to build solutions for some of society’s most complex problems.
Let’s take a look at why 2,500 successful ventures have been launched by fellows across the Aspen Institute’s initiative and how these global leaders have already made noteworthy strides in using their businesses and organizational platforms to address critical world problems.
Evolving Societal Perspective for The Better
Established in 1997 with a mission to form the next generation of community-driven leaders, the Henry Crown Fellowship Program is now more relevant to society than ever. Every year, it offers its class of 22 members a two-year program designed to equip them with the tools needed to meet the challenges of business and civic leadership in the 21st century with expert guidance from the Aspen Institute.
The program is an esteemed achievement for accomplished business leaders who are driving positive change within their communities. This year’s program is focused mainly on experts from the private business sector. The Class of 2022 includes industry leaders like Nick Tran, Former Global Head of Marketing at TikTok; Lindsay Shookus, Producer at SNL, NBCUniversal; Luis von Ahn, Co-founder & CEO at Duolingo; Shilla Kim-Parker, Cofounder and CEO of Thrilling; and Laura González-Estéfani, the Founder and CEO of Miami-headquartered TheVentureCity, a global, operator-led investment firm.
Chosen fellows spend four weeks for two years time in a structured retreat – exploring their leadership, core values, their vision for a better society, and their desired legacies. But the Fellowship is not just about reflection. It is also about action: each Fellow launches a leadership venture that will stretch them and have a positive impact on their communities, their country, or the world.
Bringing Equanimity to Global Finance
TheVentureCity is a financial investment firm from one of the fastest-growing tech startup scenes in the US—sunny, Miami FL. Its financially savvy, and fearless female leader is Laura González-Estéfani who hails from working at big players such as eBay and Facebook. She has reinvested her seasoned financial and business prowess into Venture’s global, operator-led investment model.
González-Estéfani and her team at TheVentureCity have sought to generate global impact through their work, portfolios, and external projects with a mission to make today’s entrepreneurial ecosystem more diverse, international, and accessible to fair capital.
In response to being chosen as a Henry Crown Fellowship Program Fellow, González-Estéfani said: ‘’I am honored to join an inspiring group of changemakers who share my values about using our combined skills and platforms to catalyze positive change.’’
González-Estéfani is a member of the European Commission’s Innovation Council and last year Laura led a group of 25 female VCs in launching a petition for the European Commission to increase investment in female-led VC and entrepreneurship in the continent. At the end of 2020, TheVentureCity partnered with the World Bank for its annual Innovate4Climate initiative to develop practical solutions for climate change with a select group of startups.
‘’My team’s work has always been grounded in creating and curating a community that can elevate entrepreneurship, and I’m excited to bring back further learnings from this unique opportunity,’’ she continued.
Since Laura founded TheVentureCity, 50% of its leadership positions have been filled by women, and its 30+ employees boast 17 different nationalities. TheVentureCity has already accepted over 100 startups into its growth program and invested in 20+ more via its first venture fund.
The Future of Community Business Leaders
It is no secret that in 2022 there are still many gaps of inequality within the work world that need to be addressed. Educational achievement disparities, access to health care, financial literacy, domestic violence, job creation, and more have shown that they still need attention and improvement.
Through the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellowship Program, the selected class of 2022 will demonstrate the talent needed to focus their energies on some of the greatest challenges of our times. Having already achieved personal success, the Henry Crown Fellowship members are ready to broaden their goals and apply their skills to challenge themselves, grow, and build a better society.
Disclosure: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.