CVCs based in the southern and midwestern US often getting overlooked. Here is the list of women dominating corporate venture capital in this region.

When it comes to searching for women in the CVC industry, it can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. So many corporate venture firms and private equity firms are male dominated in the US.

Celebrating the success stories of underrepresented races, genders and social classes in the white and male dominated world of corporate venturing is important to Global Corporate Venturing. Amplifying these underrepresented groups lets others know that there are multiple pathways and plenty of opportunities in this arena.

The first instalment of our ‘standout women in the US’ articles was a complete success. We focused on the 30 talented women East of the Mississippi River. Now, as we focus on the second chapter of the US women in corporate venturing project, we’re directing our attention to the Midwest and the South.

The American South and Midwest is primarily known for agricultural practices, distinct culture and industrial work – admittedly its presence in the world of corporate venturing isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. Compared to the venture capital powerhouses, Silicon Valley and New York, the Midwest and American South often gets ignored.

But corporate venturing is beginning to thrive in these states, with Texas and Minnesota leading the way in emerging and vintage CVC units, including the 15-year old corporate venture arm of conglomerate 3M, 3M Ventures. These firms are also seeing a spike in the number of women applying for venture capital roles and obtaining high standing positions in corporate venture firms.

Next, we will conclude our US women in CVC trilogy, tackling the venturing behemoth of the West Coast. If you have any suggestions for women we should feature on this upcoming list, or in our Latin America, Asia and DACH lists, please get in touch.

Here are the notable women highlighted so far:

Chelsea Plant

Investment manager
3M Ventures
Based in Minnesota

For Chelsea Plant, working in business and finance was the dream; however, her path into corporate venturing came by chance.

“I kind of fell into corporate venturing,” she says, “I joined 3M Ventures after previously working on 3M’s post-MBA programme, which was a rational opportunity to work across the company.”

Plant says that the venture side of 3M was something she fell in love with, so once an opening for a position on the venture team appeared, she took action.

She has now been the investment manager for two years at 3M Ventures, the corporate venture arm of conglomerate 3M.

Plant has an extensive career in finance and business, having acquired a bachelor’s in finance, investment banking and international business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She began her career focusing on M&A, before transitioning to venture capital, having served a year as an M&A senior associate at Tyton Partners and another year as an M&A investment banking analyst at BMO Capital Markets.

“Corporate venture is so much more fun than M&A and I feel like I’ve found where I’d like to stay for a while at least,” Plant says.

Founded in 2008, 3M Ventures invests in healthcare, infrastructure, life science technologies and digitisation startups. The firm has 19 companies in its portfolio and has invested in more than 66 companies, including US-based wiring harnesses replacer CellLink, which closed a $250m series D round in 2022.

Plant leads the sustainable packaging investments and supports initiatives around climate technology and developers in new packaging materials.

Plant not only believes that finance would benefit from having a greater gender balance but believes that women thrive in the CVC space.

“Women are really good at working in CVC as it requires a lot of relationship building and hearing other people’s perspectives,” she says. “I am passionate about promoting more women in this business and I stay engaged in GCV women’s groups. In addition, 3M also just hired another woman on our team, further increasing our inclusivity.”

Plant believes that venture capital is an attractive sector for women and units need to do more to encourage and see the value that women can bring to these teams.

“We need to see the significance of women who lead in this sector and prioritise their capabilities in the interview process,” she says, “I think we can encourage women by putting them on a pedestal through speaking events and articles like this.”

She continues: “Being vocal in sharing what it is like being a woman in this role and having a more mindful interview process will surely drive women to enter the corporate venturing sector.”

“Being vocal in sharing what it is like being a woman in this role and having a more mindful interview process will surely drive women to enter the corporate venturing sector.”

Chelsea Plant, investment manager at 3M Ventures

Jennifer Ard

Managing director and head of investment operations
Intel Capital
Based in Utah

Jennifer Ard is the managing director and head of investment operations at Intel Capital, the corporate venture unit of US-based semiconductor manufacturing corporation Intel.

Established in 1991, Intel Capital invests in early stage startups focusing on computer technology such as silicon, frontier, devices and cloud-based software developers. The firm has more than 335 companies in its portfolio and has invested in more than 2,000 startups.

Ard began her stint at Intel in 2004, starting as the corporation’s senior financial analyst. She later transitioned to Intel’s venture unit in 2011, focusing on investments in manufacturing, wearables and new technologies sectors. Ard later progressed to investment director in 2016 before accepting her current position in 2020.

Sindu Balan

Investment principal
Chevron Technology Ventures
Based in Texas

Sindu Balan is the investment principal of Chevron Technology Ventures, the venture capital investment unit for oil and gas major Chevron.

Founded in 1999, Chevron Technology Ventures invests in low carbon technology, information technology and oil and gas startups. The firm has 55 companies in its portfolio, including carbon capture startup Blue Planet, which raised $10m in 2020.

Other notable investments include piper technology manufacturer Ingu and super absorbent nanomaterials maker Immaterial.

Balan started working for Chevron in 2009 as a business analyst. Throughout the years she has held various positions including senior analyst and management advisor.

Balan acquired a masters degree at the University of Houston and participated in an advanced leadership programme at Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Kelly Carlquist

Vice president
Blue Venture Fund
Based in Illinois

Kelly Carlquist is the vice president of Blue Venture Fund, a corporate venture programme of the federation of US health insurance plans Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and Sandbox.

Blue Venture Fund, formerly known as Blue Cross Blue Shield Venture Partners, was founded in 2008 and invests in startups focusing on healthcare technology and services, as well as clinical sciences. The subsidiary has 42 companies in its portfolio and has invested in more than 130 startups.

Notable investments include US-based healthcare pricing platform Sempre Health, which raised $20m in a series B round this year, and in-network paediatric behavioural care provider Fort Health, which secured $4.5m in February 2023.

Carlquist joined Sandbox Industries in 2020 as an associate before progressing to her current position as vice president of the venture fund in 2021. She previously worked for multiple venture firms, including Adam Street Partners, where she was an associate for a year, and Goldman Sachs, where she spent two years as an analyst.

Grace Chan of BP VenturesP

Grace Chan

BP Ventures
Based in Texas

Grace Chan is the principal at BP Ventures, the corporate venture arm of UK-based oil and gas major BP.

BP Ventures was founded in 2006 and invests in technology startups focusing on advanced mobility, carbon management and digital transformation. The investment arm has 48 companies in its portfolio, including sustainable fermentation platform Calysta, which raised $39m in a series D round in 2021.

Other notable investments include electric ride hailing startup BluSmart and alternative geothermal power technology generator Eavor.

A company veteran, Chan joined BP 15 years ago, starting off as a financial analyst. Throughout the years, she has held various positions, including planning analyst for the Mauritania and Senegal regions, and commercial interventions lead for the Gulf of Mexico.

She moved into venture capital in 2020, working as BP a Ventures associate before accepting her current position two years later. Chan has been recognised for her efforts in corporate venturing and was listed as one of GCV’s Rising Stars in 2022.

Jennifer Chan

Vice president of ventures
ExxonMobil Product Solutions
Based in Texas

Jennifer Chan is the vice president of ventures at ExxonMobil Product Solutions, the corporate venture subsidiary of natural gas company ExxonMobil.

ExxonMobil typically invests in new technologies in the energy sector and has invested in close to 100 companies. Notable investments include carbon capture company Global Thermostat, which has raised $5m in funding, and oil and gas deliverer Yoshi, which received $20m from ExxonMobil in a 2020 series B round.

Chan is a company veteran, having served 30 years at ExxonMobil and has held her current position for over a year. She held various positions throughout the years, including planning and development manager and vice president of major growth ventures in the company’s chemical division.

Chan acquired a masters and bachelors degrees at MIT in chemical engineering and chemical engineering practice.

Christina Cheng

Vice president of corporate strategy
Based in Texas

Christina Cheng is the vice president of corporate strategy at Dallas-based telecommunications company AT&T.

AT&T launched a venture capital investment firm, AT&T Ventures, in 1991. It invested in the communications services sector but is now inactive. The firm has invested in 67 startups, including US-based analytics and ad platform Sometrics, which has raised $5.6m in funding.

Cheng has held her position as vice president of corporate strategy for more than two years. She has been a part of AT&T Corporation for more than 16 years.

Cheng has a bachelor of arts in political science and government from the University of California, Berkeley, and a masters degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Andrea Course

Venture principal
Shell Ventures
Based in Texas

Andrea Course is the venture principal at Shell Ventures, the corporate subsidiary of the UK-based multinational oil and gas company Shell. 

Shell Ventures was launched in 1996 and invests in startups revolutionising oil and gas technologies, renewable energy and mobility solutions. As one of the first oil and gas based venture capital firms, Shell Ventures has up to 73 companies in its portfolio and has invested in over 150 more.

Notable investments include US-based fusion power developer Zap Energy, which raised $160m in a series C round that saw investors such as Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Chevron Technology Ventures participate. In June this year, Shell Ventures oversaw the exit of online care maintenance and marketplace platform, which was acquired by manufacturing giant Niterra. 

Course began at Shell Ventures four years ago, focusing on robotics and AI-based startups. She also acted as the venture principal of oil and gas corporation Schlumberger in its corporate venturing division for nearly two years.

Brittany Clements

Managing director
American Family Ventures
Based in Minnesota

Brittany Clements is the managing director of American Family Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of US-based insurance company American Family Insurance.

American Family Ventures was founded in 2010. The firm invests in seed to early stage startups focusing on business products, consumer services and cybersecurity, with 46 companies in its portfolio.

Recent investments include AI settlement platform Alix, which secured $5.5m in a seed round in 2023, and wireless signalling mapper SignalFire, which was acquired by PwC in 2021.

Clements has held her current position at American Family Ventures for nearly two years. Before joining the firm she spent five years as the managing director of Allianz Life Ventures, the corporate investment arm of financial services company Allianz, and was the vice president of Silicon Valley Bank for four years.

Kirby Crutchfield

Vice president of business development
EBSCO Capital
Based in Alabama

Kirby Crutchfield is the vice president of business development at EBSCO Capital, the corporate venture subsidiary of US-based EBSCO Industries.

EBSCO Capital was founded in 2014 and deploys minority and controlling equity capital, ranging from buyouts, acquisitions and venture capital. The firm has 10 companies in its portfolio and has invested in more than 30 startups, including risk reduction platform Acalimant, which raised $15m in a series B round in 2021.

Crutchfield has been EBSCO Capital’s vice president of development for more than three years. Before that she worked directly in EBSCO Industries for four years, where she held various positions such as marketing and corporate communications manager, and account manager for corporate communications.

Prior to this, she worked as an account executive for advertising services company Intermark for three years and acquired a bachelor’s degree in marketing at Auburn University.

Celeste Dauner

Managing director
Koch Disruptive Technologies
Based in Kansas

Celeste Dauner is the managing director at Koch Disruptive Technologies, an investment arm of US-based conglomerate Koch Industries.

Founded in 2017, Koch Disruptive Industries invests in a range of sectors including healthcare, semiconductors, food tech and mobility. The corporate venture arm has 60 companies in its portfolio and has invested in more than 80 companies.

Koch Disruptive Industries has also overseen three company exits, with its most recent being UK-based healthcare diagnostics equipment maker Sense Biodetection, which was acquired by biotechnology company Sherlock Biosciences.

Dauner began at Koch Disruptive Industries five years ago when she served as a director. She moved to her current position. in 2022

Prior to this, Dauner spent nine years at oil and refining company Flint Hills Resources, where she held various positions including credit analyst and director of business development.

Katherine Davis

Investment principal
Ascension Ventures
Based in Minnesota

Katherine Davis is the investment principal at Ascension Ventures, the corporate investment arm of the private healthcare company Ascension Health.

Launched in 2001, Ascension Ventures invests in startups focusing on healthcare IT, services and medical devices. The firm has 34 companies in its portfolio and has invested in more than 165 startups, including developers of vaccine-to fridge-free technology Stablepharma, which closed a $6.3m series A round in 2021.

Davis has been the investment principal at Ascension Ventures for over a year. Her role has allowed her to act as a board observer for several startups, such as kidney care company Strive Health and patient care company Compassus.

Beforehand, Davis spent four years at the healthcare insurance company Bind Benefits, where she held various positions including inclusive benefits leader and sales strategy and process leader. She also spent two years as an associate in global strategy at Thomson Reuters and another two years as a financial and market analyst at Lemhi Ventures.

Christine Irvin

Oxy Low Carbon Ventures
Based in Texas

Christine Irvin is the director at Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, the corporate venture arm of energy and chemical manufacturer Occidental Petroleum.

Launched in 2018, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures invests in startups developing low carbon fuels and products as well as services to support carbon capture projects. The corporate venture arm has eight companies in its portfolio, including global commodity exchange platform Xpansiv and Cemvita, the CO2 utilisation platform.

Irvin has worked for Occidental Petroleum for nearly 17 years. She started off as the company’s facilities engineer and held various positions, including commissioning manager and engineering manager.

Irvin became the director at Oxy Low Carbon Ventures in 2022, where she is responsible for the executive and operations of Oxy’s Direct Air Capture programme.

Prior to this, Irvin acquired a bachelors in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University.

Emily Kist

Venture and innovation associate
Nelnet Ventures
Based in Minnesota

Emily Kist is the venture and innovation associate at Nelnet Ventures, the investment unit of financial services firm Nelnet.

Nelnet Ventures invests in technology startups focusing on fintech, payment technology and real estate innovations. The company has 40 companies in its portfolio, including Hudl, a sports performance analysis software provider.

Kist started at Nelnet as an intern in 2020, working in innovation and venture capital and also serving as a pathway intern. After a brief hiatus, she returned to the company in 2022 as a corporate financial analyst and was promoted to her current position this year.

Alongside her current position, she is an advisory board member for the Nebraska Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

She has also worked for Capital Advisors as a consulting intern and was the co-founder and managing director of Husker Venture fund for a year.

Robin Lanier

Managing director
Southern Company’s New Ventures
Based in Georgia

Robin Lanier is the managing director of New Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of US-based electric power distribution company Southern Company.

Founded in 2022, New Ventures co-founded venture firm Energy Impact Ventures to provide access to early stage companies focusing on energy and utilities innovations. Southern Company has invested in several companies, including carbon removal creditor Clovery which raised $21.1m in funding.

Lanier has been a part of the Southern Company family for decades. She worked for the corporation’s sister company, Georgia Power Company, for 13 years. In 2020 she was promoted to the director of renewable gas at Southern Company Gas, where she led strategy development to advance the company’s renewable gas programmes.

In 2022 she moved into the world of corporate venturing, starting off as Southern Company’s director of corporate development before accepting her current position in April 2023.

Powell has a degree in agricultural engineering, structures and structural systems from the University of Georgia.

Jennifer Marcus

Director of strategic business development
The Home Depot
Based in Georgia

Jennifer Marcus is the director of strategic business development at US-based home improvement company Home Depot.

In 2022 Home Depot announced the formation of its $150m corporate venture arm, Home Depot Ventures, which invests in startups focusing on internet of things, logistics services and consumer products. The corporation has invested in companies such as digital bathroom renovation platform Made Renovation, and Loadsmart, a freight technology company.

Marcus has been the director of business development at Home Depot for two years. The Canadian native joined the company in 2016 as a financial analyst in ecommerce and marketing before moving to the southern US and serving as the company’s manager and senior manager of strategic business development.

She has previously spoken to GCV about heading the corporation’s CVC and the benefits it will have on the company.

Before her stint at the Home Depot, Marcus worked for KPMG Canada, where she held various positions ranging from senior accountant of consumer and industrial market groups, and talent attraction specialist.

Louisa McCarty

Team member
Based in Texas

Louisa McCarty is a team member at 7-Ventures, the corporate venture subsidiary of US-based convenience store chain 7-11.

Founded in 2010, 7-Ventures invests in seed to later stage companies developing consumer technologies. The unit has six companies in its portfolio and has invested in 14 startups, including organic fruit infused beverage maker Core Nutrition, which has raised $65.51m in funding.

McCarty started at 7-Ventures as an intern in 2022 and joined the company full time in June this year. She previously spent four years at lifestyle brand Equinox, holding positions such as digital marketing intern and audience acquisition and engagement coordinator.

Melissa Noel

Senior director of corporate development
Mayo Clinic
Based in Minnesota

Melissa Noel is the senior director of corporate development at the US healthcare and medical centre Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic invests through its corporate venture arm Mayo Clinic Ventures, which was founded in 1986. The firm invests in healthcare-related startups focusing on medical devices and biopharmaceuticals. It has 71 companies in its portfolio.

Other notable investments include surgical intelligence platform Theator and surgical navigation technology developer MediView.

Noel joined Mayo Clinic in 2019, starting off as a manager of corporate development. She has held various other positions since then, including director of corporate development. She began her current position in September 2023.

Prior to this, Noel spent four years at services network PwC as a senior associate consultant in growth strategy and process improvement. She also spent three years at medical equipment manufacturer Cantel Medical as a senior global product manager and portfolio manager.

Mollie O’Brien

Vice president of investor relations
Best Buy
Based in Minnesota

Mollie O’Brien is the vice president of investor relations at consumer electronic company Best Buy.

Best Buy launched an investment unit in 2008, called Best Buy Capital, which went out of business a decade ago. The firm used to invest in resources and technology innovative startups, with 25 investments to its name.

Notable investments include biometric sensor technology developer Valencell and full spectrum IoT solutions provider Xingtera.

O’Brien joined Best Buy in 2011 as a senior director of investor relations, and progressed to her current position three years later.

Prior to this, she spent a year as a director of investor and public relations at teleradiology company Virtual Radiologic. She worked at real estate company Move for nine years as a vice president of investor relations and director of online marketing.

Kate Powell

Associate manager, head of strategic programs and corporate strategy
Tyson Foods
Based in Arkansas

Kate Powell is the associate manager, head of strategic programs and corporate strategy at Tyson Ventures, the corporate venture arm of US-based food processing company Tyson Foods.

Founded in 2016, Tyson Ventures invests in the consumer sector focusing on food and beverage innovations. The firm has 11 companies in its portfolio and has invested in more than 20 startups, such as plant-based alternative foods manufacturer Believer and sustainable livestock systems platform Athian.

Powell’s stint at Tyson Ventures began in 2020, starting as an executive coordinator. She later progressed to become the firm’s associate manager of strategic initiatives, before moving to her current position in August 2023.

Before joining Tyson Ventures, she spent a year as a project specialist in the enterprise project management office at retail chain Murphy USA. She spent four years at luxury event and catering services company A Fare Extraordinaire, where she was the senior account executive and staffing coordinator.

Mary Roberts

Corporate development and M&A associate
Based in Texas

Mary Roberts is the corporate development and M&A associate at the Dallas-based telecommunications company AT&T.

The corporation launched a now inactive firm that has invested in 67 startups, including US-based education workshop provider Akimbo, which was acquired by credit card services company Usio for $3m in 2014.

Roberts has been corporate development and M&A associate for six months. She joined AT&T in 2020 as a senior financial analyst for the company’s finance leadership development programme and later progressed to the lead financial analyst of the programme.

Beforehand, she spent less than a year as a content manager at Quiver Quantitative and a global research summer associate in equity research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Susanna Sabbagh

Executive director of venture investments
Halliburton Labs
Based in Texas

Susanna Sabbagh serves as the executive director at Halliburton Labs, the investment unit of multinational oil services provider Halliburton.

Founded in 2020, Halliburton Labs is an accelerator that runs a 12-month programme focusing on early stage clean energy companies. The accelerator has 25 companies in its portfolio.

A company veteran, Sabbagh has been a part of the Halliburton corporation for over 20 years. She started off as the company’s operations manager in advanced data services and has since held positions including principal proposals manager and director of programme management.

She moved to Halliburton Labs in 2022.

Sabbagh was previously a well data services consultant at Petrologic. She received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at University of Cambridge and was a part of an executive development programme at Mays Business School, part of Texas A&M University.

Taylor Sankovich

Principal and head of business development
301 Inc
Based in Texas

Taylor Sankovich is the principal of business development at 301 Inc, the corporate venture arm of U food processing company General Mills.

Founded in 2012, 301 Inc partners with emerging food brands and invests in early stage food startups. The unit has 18 companies in its portfolio and has invested in 29 startups, including pet tracking device maker PitPat.

Sankovich has worked for General Mills for four years. She started as an associate brand manager for snacks and kid grain. In 2022, she became principal of 301 Inc and has since held various positions such associate business development manager.

Sankovich previously spent four years at UBS where she worked as an analyst of prime brokerage sales and was associate director of global equity finance.

Justine Savarin

Director of accelerators
Target Corporation
Based in Minnesota

Justine Savarin is the director of accelerators at US retailer Target.

Founded in 1902, Target generates $100 billion in sales in the US and has invested in 20 startups. Notable investments include US-based machine learning API platform Nexosis, which raised $7m in funding and ecommerce sleep products distributor Casper, which raised $341m in funding.

Before joining Target in 2019, she spent two years at Satisfi Labs, a software development company where she was senior vice president and head of industry in enterprise and retail and vice president of strategic partnerships and alliances.

Tamara Steffens

Managing director
TR Ventures
Based in Texas

Tamara Steffens is the managing director at TR Ventures, the corporate venture fund of media conglomerate Thomson Reuters.

Founded in 2011, TR Ventures is a $100m fund that invests in early stage companies, particularly series A and B investment rounds. It focuses on startups in future enterprise technology.

The fund has 10 companies in its portfolio, including financial wellness platform Northstar, which raised $24.4m in 2022, and US-based data privacy startup Datagrail, which raised $45m in a series C round in 2022.

Steffens has been the managing director at TR Ventures for over a year. She also served two years as the general manager and managing director at M12, Microsoft’s corporate venture fund.

With over 20 years of experience in the venture investing world, she has also personally led the acquisitions of several startups, including Color, a mobile applications developer. Steffens was the senior vice president of business development at Color before it was acquired by Apple in 2012.

Nina Terrero Groth

Lead pipeline manager, Target Accelerators
Target Corporation
Based in Minnesota

Nina Terro Groth is the lead pipeline manager of Target Accelerators, an accelerator programme managed by US retailer Target.

Target invests in startups in ecommerce, IT and disruptive technologies. The company has made investments in startups such as Sonia Kashuk, a market cosmetics and beauty products developer and on-demand grocery delivery service Shipt.

Groth joined Target in 2017 as a corporate communications specialist before progressing to her current position in 2022.

Prior to this, she spent three years at Entertainment Weekly as a senior correspondent and spent two years at NBC News as an entertainment editor and as a web producer at NBC Latino.

Erin VanLanduit

Head of corporate ventures
Based in Minnesota

Erin VanLanduit is the head of corporate ventures at US-headquartered agribusiness Cargill.

Founded in 2021, Cargill Ventures invests in IT, life sciences and clean technology sectors. Cargill’s global portfolio consists of 20 startups.

Among its investments are Aleph Farms, an Israel-based cellular agricultural developer, which completed a $105m series B round in 2021; Bushel, a software developer for the agriculture industry, which has raised $101.2m since its launch; and Grão Direto, a digital commodities trading platform, which has raised $14.3m over five funding rounds.

VanLanduit joined Cargill Ventures soon after its creation, which allowed her to also serve as a board member for Cargill affiliated startups such as Regrow and Infinant Health. She was also listed on the GCV Powerlist in 2022.

Prior to this, VanLanduit spent decades in the food industry. She was managing director of strategy and partnerships at Tyson Foods corporate venture unit, Tyson Ventures, and worked for more than seven years at McCain Foods as a commercial lead and associate director of marketing.