Donna Harris

Cofounder of 1776, working mom, working to change the world

Donna is cofounder and co-CEO of 1776, a global incubator and seed fund that works to accelerate innovation to solve complex challenges. Under her leadership 1776 has grown from a theory to a globally recognized brand at the center of worldwide startup activity. Launched in 2013, 1776 now has campuses in Washington, D.C.; Arlington, Virginia; San Francisco; New York City and Dubai, and it operates a venture fund making investments worldwide. 1776 has supported the founding of hundreds of young companies that are growing and creating jobs in the Washington, D.C., region. Thousands more around the globe enjoy backing and guidance from its network. With visitors ranging from President Obama and former British Prime Minister David Cameron, to CEOs of America’s top technology companies, 1776 has become the singular go-to stop in the region for political and corporate leaders seeking to engage the innovation economy. Before launching 1776, Donna served the Startup America Partnership as managing director. Working in partnership with the White House, the Kauffman Foundation and the Case Foundation, she led the formation of entrepreneurial communities across the United States and integrated them into a national startup ecosystem. Her work was the precursor to the Startup Nations initiative, enabling informal knowledge-sharing among economies to help accelerate new and young firm formation in their countries in order to create jobs, build economies and expand human welfare. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, which oversees the program. Prior to joining Startup America, Donna was Vice Chair of Interpoint Group, a government markets, government relations, public affairs strategy and management firm. Interpoint generated nearly $8 billion in revenue while passing or defeating legislation, and the group executed public affairs campaigns for corporations, non-profits, foundations and governments globally. Under her leadership, the company grew tenfold before its acquisition by Pegasus Capital Partners. Previously she founded and served as CEO of Kinderstreet, which sold software in the education, sports and recreation markets. Donna grew the company from concept to a national leader in the field with more than 900 active schools using the product across 41 states. Arc Capital Development acquired Kinderstreet in 2005. Earlier in her career, she served as vice president of Centromine, a provider of web-based clinical and fiscal systems in the health and human services industry. There, she led all product and market strategy and assisted in raising $11 million in venture capital financing. Echo Group acquired Centromine in 2000. Donna serves as a trustee of the Federal City Council, a policy adviser to the Economic Innovation Group and a member of the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. In addition to serving on the Global Entrepreneurship Network’s board of directors, she also sits on the National Center for Entrepreneurship’s board. She is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Georgetown University and is an active angel investor as a cofounder of K Street Capital. Donna is a frequent speaker and contributor to publications like the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and Huffington Post. Recognized as one of Washington, D.C.’s Power 100 by Washington Business Journal and Washington Life, and as a Tech Titan by Washingtonian Magazine, she has become one of the most influential leaders in the region’s new economy. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and an M.B.A. with distinction from University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. She has also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from American University and resides in Northern Virginia with her husband, son and two dogs.