entrepreneur, advisor, investor
Joanna Rees aims to drive change on a global scale via collective civic and business efforts.
San Francisco Bay Area. Managing Partner at West, a Market Accelerator
In addition to her board memberships on various venture-backed startups, Joanna is highly active in the nonprofit community.
Joanna Rees is Senior Partner at The B Team, where she actively works to propel the initiative’s mission within the entrepreneurial community. She has also served on the board of Endeavor.org for 10+ years and had the privilege of raising a fund at the intersection of global entrepreneurship and social impact for Endeavor.org. Appropriately named Endeavor Catalyst, this fund has now invested in more than 40 companies in 15 countries around the world.
Joanna is also a board member of Build.org and of The Representation Project. While each initiative is unique, they all play their part in a common goal: to ignite the potential of individuals and groups who can tackle global challenges in strategic and sustainable ways. Build.org is dedicated to providing experimental educational opportunities for disadvantaged youths, providing programs and courses to help achieve success.
Joanna’s strong belief in education, especially for the most disadvantaged kids, led to the Board of the New Schools Venture Fund, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (“NFTE”) and now Build.org.
Over the course of her career, Joanna Rees has come to know the power of community, thought leadership, and reflection. Over a decade ago, she was selected by The World Economic Forum as a Global Leader for Tomorrow. The Aspen Institute Save & Exit also named her a Henry Crown Fellow. She credits these two achievements for opening up new channels for her to connect with highly-accomplished leaders around the world. Joanna is now a Senior Moderator at the Aspen Institute.
An All-Hands Approach to Change
Joanna firmly believes we need to take an “all-hands” approach to change. It’s not enough to leave our most entrenched societal problems to government and nonprofit work — business can and should be used as a tool for social impact. For 20+ years this belief has been at the forefront of her own work advising and investing in early-stage entrepreneurs. Similarly, it’s inspired Joanna to advocate (both personally and professionally) for diversity in business and community work, as shown through her work with the B Team.
Diversity of perspective is key not just for finding the best solutions, but for asking the right questions in the first place. It’s one of the reasons Joanna Rees chose to call the city of San Francisco home and eventually even run for mayor. She started the campaign doing what she always does: she went out and listened to the market. In the end she didn’t win, but she changed the dialogue, challenged the field to focus on issues that were not part of their platforms, and this has now resulted in new policies and programs.
From reforming public education to empowering high-power entrepreneurs, Joanna is all about strengthening communities and building a better, fairer future. It all starts with deliberate and impactful work around the world.
Career and Background
Joanna Rees is an entrepreneur who has raised several venture capital funds and has served on the boards of 25+ venture-backed startups. Joanna also brings deep expertise in marketing and strategy, and earlier in her career held several increasingly executive marketing management positions with Groupe Danone, a $20+ billion global consumer products firm and the advertising agency DMB&B. Joanna also brings strong financial expertise having worked at BA Securities.
In 1996 Joanna formed a strategic consulting firm, Venture Strategy Group. Their fund, VSP Capital, raised millions in capital. She’s been Managing Partner at West since 2016.
This blog will focus on Joanna’s interests in non-profit work and recap news from some of the organizations in which she is currently involved. Visit her business leadership blog here!