Igniting the Power of Entrepreneurship: Access to Capital

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California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA

570 Westwood Plaza

Building 114

Los Angeles, CA 90095-7227

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Ticket sales are temporarily suspended until a new date is confirmed.

Capital Access for all Makers, Doers & Dreamers... regardless of race or ethnic origin and demographic, socioeconomic and geographic barriers

Access to capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs and fund managers will be a key catalyst for growth in equity, jobs and prosperity. Venture capital (VC) has been very helpful for some entrepreneurs, but the VC industry is focused on a small percentage of businesses with the potential for high growth:

- Only 0.6% of businesses ever raise venture capital
- Only 1% went to African-American and Latino founders
- Less than 2% of startup financing went to women founders
- Less than 1% of VC dollars went to rural areas

Our all-star panel tackles this issue and shares their insights and advice to help you move your business forward.

6:00-6:30 - Check-in & Networking
6:30-6:40 - Welcome & Introductions
6:40-7:45 - Moderated Panel Discussion
7:45-8:00 - Audience Q&A | Closing Remarks

California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA
570 Westwood Plaza, Building 114
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7227
(see map below)

PARKING: Directions and parking information will be emailed to attendees the week prior to the event. Note the cost of parking is $13.

Questions? Contact Kim Christensen for assistance.


Co-Founder and President, LA Black Investors Club
Advisory Board Member, Women Founders Network

Shanita Nicholas is Co-Founder and President of the LA Black Investors Club, a 501(c)(3) with a mission to inform, exchange, and foster the development of entrepreneurial ventures through serving as a conduit to venture creation, capitalization, and capacity building for diverse communities (

Shanita is also an attorney at Stubbs, Alderton & Markiles, LLP, where she primarily focuses on corporate transactions, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions matters and other general corporate and business matters. Prior to joining the firm, Shanita worked at international law firms within mergers and acquisitions for middle market private equity clients and within derivatives and mergers and acquisitions for large private equity clients. Prior to her legal career, Shanita worked as an IT consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, where she acted as a liaison between government clients and technical specialists.

Shanita received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University and her JD and MBA from Columbia University Schools of Law and Business, where she served as Operations Editor of the Columbia Business and Law Review. She is admitted to practice law in the State of New York and the State of California.



Kwanza Jones is the co-founder and CEO of the Kwanza Jones & José E. Feliciano SUPERCHARGED Initiative, a philanthropic grant-making and impact investment organization, making a lasting effect across four key areas: Education, Entrepreneurship, Equal Opportunity and Empowerment ( Prior to founding the SUPERCHARGED Initiative, Jones taught cross cultural negotiations at New York University, was a mediator for the New York City Civil Court, and started her career in media and production at Innovation Empowerment Group. She is also the founder of SUPERCHARGED ® by Kwanza Jones, a lifestyle & personal development brand that helps individuals and organizations continuously improve. (

With a multifaceted background spanning music, media, production, law, business and philanthropy, some say Jones is a Renaissance woman, others call her a Boss. Given her background as a nine-time and Top 10 Billboard charting dance music artist, it’s no surprise — her energy ignites confidence and action. It’s all part of Kwanza Jones’ passion and purpose, to be a catalyst for the betterment of humanity. (

Founder and Managing Partner, The 22 Fund

Ms. Gray is the Founder and Managing Partner of The 22 Fund (The 22), an impact, growth equity and advisory firm with a mission of creating the quality jobs of the future by increasing the export capacity of manufacturing companies, intentionally targeting women- and minority-owned businesses. She is a Board of Director of Applife Digital Solutions, Inc (OTC: ADLS), a publicly traded, fully reporting start-up incubator and venture studio, and of the California State University, Dominguez Hills Philanthropic Foundation endowment, where she serves as Treasurer/Secretary on the Investment Committee.

She is also an Executive in Residence at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and chairs LACI’s Diversity in Entrepreneurship Advisory Council. Ms. Gray is the first Social Impact Fellow at the UC Berkeley Haas Business School’s Center for Equity, Gender and Leadership. In 2015, Ms. Gray gave a TEDx Talk entitled “Why It's Time for Women to Be Sexist with Investment Capital.” Due to the response from her TEDx Talk, Ms. Gray founded the non-profit We Are Enough (WAE). WAE’s only mission is to educate ALL women on how and why to invest in women-owned, for-profit businesses or with a “gender lens.” WAE recently released the study Creating LAIA:The Feasibility of a Women-Focused Incubator and Accelerator in Los Angeles. Ms. Gray was named one of the 50 “Women of Influence ” in business in Los Angeles and is featured in the recently released book “200 Hundred Women: Who Will Change the Way You See the World” and Robb Report article "Tracy Gray Invests in Women."

Ms. Gray was formerly senior advisor for international business to the LA Mayor, an investment professional at a venture capital fund and a systems engineer on the Space Shuttle program. Ms. Gray holds a B.S. in Mathematical Science with an aeronautics emphasis from the UC Santa Barbara and dual MBAs from Columbia University and UC, Berkeley.

Partner, MiLA Capital

Carmen Palafox is a Partner at MiLA Capital, a seed-stage Venture Capital firm in Los Angeles focused on funding tech you can touch.

She was Vice President at Dimensional Fund Advisors where she scaled operations into LATAM, Canada, and Europe going from $75 Billion AUM to $300 Billion AUM.

Carmen believes in the power of capital markets to spur growth and innovation. She enjoys coaching entrepreneurs on finance and strategic planning.

Carmen was awarded the Rising Star Award from the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce. She was spotlighted by the NVCA as a Rising Star in VC and featured by LA Magazine as 1 of 13 of LA’s Powerful Women. In 2019, Carmen spoke on Bloomberg TVs Top Tech Trends to watch. Carmen is also on the founding team of LatinxVC’s. Carmen holds a BA from the University of Southern California, an MA in Sports Management from the University of San Francisco, and an MBA from Berkeley-Haas.

Founder and CEO, OSEA Angel Investors

Xandra Laskowski is a startup consultant with over 25 years of entrepreneurial experience with large multinational tech companies as well as startups as founder, investor, advisor and board member. She has held positions as Worldwide Commodity Manager and National Major Accounts Managerial roles before moving into the Angel Investment and startup worlds.

She founded OSEA Angel Investors in 2017, a women focused angel investment group based at the UCI Cove, UC Irvine California. OSEA Angel Investors is an investment partner with Tech Coast Angels, Titan Angels (CSUF) and Angel Syndication Network. Through Xolas, Xandra provides startup consulting assisting entrepreneurs in producing their “Startup Roadmap”.

Event Producers:

Darya Allen-Attar and Shanita Nicholas (see bio above)

Darya Allen-Attar

CEO & Co-Founder, Women Founders Network

Darya is passionate about the advancement of women. In 2013, she co-founded Women Founders Network (WFN), a virtual accelerator whose goal is to connect women founders not only with the required capital but also with the resources, connections, mentorship and sponsorship they need to grow scalable, successful businesses. Since 2013, WFN and its members have awarded and invested over $1.5M in cash and services to women founders and alumni have raised over $100M in funding.

Subsequently, Darya founded the nonprofit Women Founders Foundation (WFF) in 2017, with a mission of educating women and girls about entrepreneurship to inspire the next generation of women founders and investors. The Junior Judge program for girls in grades 6-12 teaches the fundamentals of business and they have an opportunity to participate in the annual WFN Fast Pitch Event as “venture capitalists for a day” to vote for their favorite company and present a sponsored cash award to their winner.

In 2008, Darya founded Broads Circle, an executive level women's networking group with a focus on money and power for women. The group organizes events that provide a venue for established, successful women to make high quality revenue connections. A "Broad" in our circle is a dynamic, smart, successful woman responsible for driving revenue and growing capital. Over 9,500 people have attended events since its inception.

Darya has been recognized for her community service in California, by the Los Angeles Business Journal as a leading woman “Making a Difference” in Los Angeles, Rising Star Category, LABJ 2013. She was also recognized as one of the “Most Powerful Women in California” by California Women Lead (November, 2016) for her community work and the advancement of women. She has traveled extensively, and speaks four languages. Most recently, she was invited by the State Department to speak on Women’s Entrepreneurship at their international forums, hosted by US consulates. Darya serves on the Investment Advisory Committee for the California Community Foundation. She also serves on the Boards of the Los Angeles Westside YMCA and the Los Angeles Chapter of Advisors in Philanthropy (LA-AiP). Darya earned her BA from Kalamazoo College, Certificate in Accounting from Northwestern University, and her MBA in Finance from Fordham University.

Hosted by:

Women Founders Foundation


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California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA

570 Westwood Plaza

Building 114

Los Angeles, CA 90095-7227

View Map

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