The XXcelerate Fund is made up of a dedicated leadership team with deep experience, and a passionate board of founding entrepreneurs. 

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Robin Klemm, PhD

Executive director
 

Robin Klemm has over 40 years of business, academic, entrepreneurial, and not-for-profit experience. She brings to the Executive Director position the finest educational training; a wealth of practical experience; and a perspective, balance, and maturity gained from working with world-class professionals, fledgling organizations, and challenging situations. And when it comes to women entrepreneurs, she brings a passion.

Entrepreneurship has been fundamental to Robin’s career, from her doctoral dissertation at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania on financial funding for startups to advising and investing in women entrepreneurs. She has developed successful start-ups on her own, and her due diligence skills were honed at the Ben Franklin Venture Partners and are frequently put to good use as an investor in the Oregon Angel Fund where she received their 2016 Most Valuable Angel award. She has invested in the Willamette Angel Conference, Atlanta Angels, Early Stage East, and West Coast Angels. She is a founding investor in the Women’s Capital Fund I & II, where she serves as an advisor to the General Partner. Over the years, Robin has helped startups raise well over $10 million dollars, not including their own investments.

Robin was the first woman to join the faculty of the Management Department of the Wharton School. Most recently, she held the Coleman Chair in Family Business Management in the College of Business at Oregon State University. Robin has also served on the faculties of the University of Delaware and the University of Massachusetts, and has provided Executive Education through universities, chambers, and private organizations.

Robin holds a Ph.D. from the Wharton School, an MBA from the University of Massachusetts, and MA and BA from the University of Rochester. Robin lives in the Pearl with her husband Chris, who shares her passion for startups. She has two children: Piper Klemm, Ph.D., owner of a startup media and publishing company, and Alex Klemm, MBA, a compliance manager at a unicorn startup. Robin enjoys cooking, hiking, and socializing. 

 
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Renee Shade

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

Renée Shade combines the technological understanding of an engineer with an entrepreneur’s drive to form, analyze, and execute new business models. She has wide-ranging professional experience; from a small, sustainability-focused non-profit, to one of the biggest banks in the country, to starting her own company. Renée examines problems and solutions from a systemic view and is skilled at balancing short-term tasks with long-term goals. She is passionate about using her skills and experience to support social impact enterprises and the women building them.

After business school, Renée built a cleantech fund, Bright Circle Ventures, with her classmate Megan Crocker. She and her business partner often found themselves as the only women in the room when meeting with investors, entrepreneurs, and partners. When vetting new companies, she actively looked for startups with a diverse team and those who understood how diversity creates a more successful company. 

Renée is incredibly grateful for the support of many female mentors throughout her career. She is excited to continue to pay that mentorship forward through the XXcelerate Fund and get more women the funding and support they need to be successful. 

Renée holds an MBA from Presidio Graduate School. She was a member of the Society of Women Engineers while obtaining her a BS from Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. She lives in the Portland area with her husband, son, and their scrappy terrier. Renée’s favorite ways to unwind are taking walks while listening to a good podcast or enjoying a treat at the best gluten-free and female-founded bakery, Kyra’s Bake Shop.

 

Judith Hutchison

director of lending
 

Judy Hutchison is a native of Portland, with deep roots in the city. She has spent over twenty years in business development in the financial services field. Judy has worked at large national banks (Bank of America and US Bank), a private bank (First Republic Bank), and two local community banks (Capital Pacific Bank and Northwest Bank). Currently, she is a Vice President and Commercial Relationship Manager at Northwest Bank, a $500 million bank focused on the financing needs of local businesses, including working capital lines of credit, term loans, and real estate loans. Judy’s technical expertise in credit underwriting and portfolio monitoring will benefit the Council.

In addition to her financial services background, Judy spent several years in the field of higher education as a recruiter and admission counselor for Oregon’s top ranked MBA program at Willamette University.

Graduating with honors from the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette, she is a graduate of the Catlin Gabel School and earned her undergraduate degree in Economics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

After participating in the Portland Police Bureau’s Community Academy, Judy was tapped to serve on the Bureau’s inaugural Training Advisory Council and the Bureau’s hiring and promotion assessment panels. She also participated in the FBI Citizens Academy and toured Washington, DC with behind-the-scenes tours of FBI Headquarters, Quantico, and the US Capitol, including a visit to Senator Ron Wyden’s office.

Judy also traveled to New Orleans as part of a Katrina Relief Team organized by Medical Teams International. Judy is a lifelong learner with an inquisitive nature and a well-rounded background in business and humanities. She is a decent golfer, a modest tennis player, an aspiring cook, an occasional swimmer, a published poet, and a conversational French speaker. She appeared on Jeopardy! in 1997, and has Portland Trail Blazers season tickets dating back to the team’s inaugural season. 

 
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Natalie Sundeleaf Sept

director of Government Affairs

Natalie is a sixth generation Oregonian and political consultant born and raised in Portland, Oregon. As a former District Representative focused on business, health care, transportation and trade in the metropolitan area, she continues to work on behalf of progressive issues for start ups, creative communities and vulnerable populations.

In addition to her work with the XXCelerate Fund, Natalie is the Government Affairs lead for Open Signal (formerly Oregon Community Media), and in 2016, she worked for Hillary Clinton for America as a press lead for the advance team in battleground states across the US. She is a 2011 Emerge Oregon graduate, and mentor and volunteer for the Center for Women's Leadership. Natalie is also a talented artist, and holds a BFA in painting from Guilford College. 

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Jill Nelson

Education and Mentorship Advisor
 

Jill Nelson founded Ruby Receptionists in 2003 to provide friendly, live receptionist services to small businesses across the nation. Relentlessly pursuing Ruby’s mission of creating real, meaningful connections to deliver memorable customer and employee experiences, Jill has led Ruby to double-digit growth every year since its inception. Today, Ruby’s 350 employees provide live receptionist service to more than 6,000 small businesses throughout North America. A driven entrepreneur passionate about building a one-of-kind company, Jill has grown Ruby into a four-time winner of Fortune magazine’s top five Best Small Companies to Work For award. Ruby is also a recipient of the Portland Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies in Oregon award for the past nine years. Most recently, the company was awarded the 2016 OEN (Oregon Entrepreneurs Network) Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Award – Growth Stage Company. In addition to her own entrepreneurial endeavors, Jill has been recognized by the Oregon business community for her tremendous achievements, being named an “Executive to Watch in 2016” by the Portland Business Journal. She was a finalist for the 2014 Oregon Entrepreneurs Network Entrepreneurial Achievement Award and received the Entrepreneurs’ Organization 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year award. Jill has served on the Entrepreneurs’ Organization board for more than five years and acted as a mentor in its Accelerator program.

A sought-after speaker on culture-driven growth, Jill has shared her management philosophy of incenting, inspiring, and empowering employees with global brands such as Mercedes Benz, Leroy Merlin of Europe, and Kiabi of France. Her vision for Ruby includes a workplace employees are excited to come to each day, and are inspired to learn, grow, and connect with others.