2023 NVCA Leadership Gala

NVCA Celebrates 50 Years of Empowering the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

We were excited to commemorate 50 years of empowering America’s startups and entrepreneurs by honoring VC industry leaders at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco on May 11 for the 2023 NVCA Leadership and Awards Gala.


5:30 PMRegistration & Cocktail Hour
7:00 PMDinner & Awards Ceremony
9:00 PMPost Ceremony Reception


Rising Stars – Morgan Cheatham, Franz Kofler, Alex Lehman, Reva Nohria, and Faith Voinovich 

DEI Impact – Chicago:Blend 

Startup Champions – Rep. Tom Emmer and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo 

Startup Innovator – Slingshot Aerospace 

Introducing our Inaugural Venture Vanguard Class! 

This award recognizes exceptional individuals who have made or are currently making significant contributions to transform the venture capital landscape and turbocharge America’s growth and success. These recipients includes a dynamic group of five trailblazers who have either laid the foundation for today’s vibrant innovation ecosystem or are actively enhancing it in a variety of ways, including investing in lifesaving or life-changing technologies and contributing to job creation across the nation. 

  • Brad Feld 
  • Jan Garfinkle 
  • Mary Meeker 
  • Alan Patricof 
  • In Memoriam: Don Valentine 


In honor of NVCA’s 50th anniversary and Leadership Gala, Venture Forward is asking 50 VC investors or firms to donate $500, $5,000, or $50,000 to support its mission to build a stronger, more diverse, equitable, and inclusive future for VC. Donors in the “50 for 50” campaign will receive special recognition at the Gala.

With your financial support in 2023, Venture Forward can:

  • Educate 900 industry newcomers through VC University.
  • Connect 50 underrepresented emerging managers to LPs through LP Office Hours.
  • Prep for the fifth edition of the VC Human Capital Survey to collect and report on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) data in the VC industry.
  • Fund new programs that help new investors break into VC, current investors advance, and VC firms implement meaningful DEI practices.

Venture Forward, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and supporting organization to NVCA, is solely funded by its donors and sponsors. Contributions to The Venture Capital Foundation (Venture Forward’s legal entity) are tax deductible. The Venture Capital Foundation is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN #: 47-4114024.


NEW Venture Vanguard Awards
To help celebrate NVCA’s 50th anniversary, we are launching a new award category called the Venture Vanguard Awards (presented by platinum sponsors EY & Dentons). A Venture Vanguard recipient is any person, distinguished board alumni, member, or friend of NVCA who has made a lasting contribution to the venture industry. Accomplishments to be considered include:

  • Creating and building successful venture firms and portfolio companies that have significantly contributed to the success of the U.S. economy.
  • Investments in lifesaving or life-changing technology.
  • Philanthropic leadership to contribute to society.
  • Extraordinary commitment of time and resources to NVCA efforts that have benefited the entire venture industry.
  • Enhancing the visibility of the industry to key policymakers and educating them on the pivotal role of venture capital in the U.S. economy.

Rising Star Award
The Rising Star Award recognizes the next generation of venture capital professionals who are rising through the ranks and establishing themselves as future standard bearers of the industry. Recipients of the award have demonstrated a mastery of venture capital investing gleaned through a relatively short amount of time in the industry and are widely recognized by their peers and others as emerging leaders of the venture capital industry.

Criteria: Must be in an early-to mid-stage of career with an NVCA member firm*. May not have reached the rank of General Partner, Managing Director or Managing General Partner. Must demonstrate exceptional and ongoing contributions to their firm. If founder or co-founder of a firm, firm must be in operation for less than five years.

DEI Impact Award
The DEI Impact Award recognizes individuals, organizations, or firms who have made a significant impact toward advancing a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) venture ecosystem. Award recipients have demonstrated not only a strong commitment to DEI but also have created and executed programs or initiatives that have meaningfully increased opportunities for historically underrepresented groups to participate and thrive in our industry.

Startup Champion Award
The Startup Champion Award recognizes elected officials for their significant contributions to advancing policy that supports the entrepreneurial ecosystem and creates a more positive environment for new company formation in America.

Startup Innovator Award
The Startup Innovator Award recognizes a VC-or growth equity-backed portfolio company for its significant contributions to society and the world. Companies receiving this award have made a positive and measurable impact on addressing an area of need, an ongoing crisis, or a significant challenge that exists in our world. The company’s dedication to affecting positive change has made it a leader within the entrepreneurial ecosystem around the problem it seeks to address.

You can see previous award winners here.