ACP announces launch of Aldrich Leadership Institute and job creation programs in South West Virginia

October 19, 2022

Raheel (Raz) Zia and I have often discussed that we are fortunate to be living the American Dream. As South Asian immigrants to this country, the professional opportunities we were given allowed us to become successful entrepreneurs and investors. This would not have been possible without the work, sacrifices, and hardships of generations of African American and Latino communities that came before us, many of whom did not receive fair compensation or pathways to success. Our entrepreneurial journey in growing Aldrich Capital Partners (“ACP”) has only been possible through the diverse group of mentors, friends, investors, ACP team members and former colleagues who have advised and supported us along the way.

It’s only right and fair that we give back.

We believe we have a personal responsibility to help others access the same professional support, leadership training and coaching that we have been so lucky to benefit from.
We are trying to pay it forward in two ways: (i) establishing the Aldrich Leadership Institute (“ALI”), and (ii) creating knowledge worker jobs in “fly-over” regions such as Central Appalachia and Southwestern Virginia to enable local communities to participate in the innovation economy.
Far too often, talented managers, especially minority and female professionals, are unable to access the leadership training, mentorship, and coaching to gain the critical skills necessary to advance in their careers. At Aldrich, we want to break this cycle and further our commitment to meaningful diversity, equity & inclusion.

ALI began as a program to train and mentor African American and Latino middle managers who we believe can rise to senior leadership roles in their companies. It’s a fast-paced, high-intensity program that helps workers develop skills such as negotiation, communication, self-advocacy, people management and managing upwards. It is modeled after executive education curriculums taught at top Business Schools and organizations such as Google.
Throughout 2022, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting dozens of talented, high-potential managers across our portfolio for a series of multi-day, leadership training summits here in the nation’s capital. Through the ALI, we believe investment in people will have an immeasurable impact across our communities and portfolio.

The energy, commitment, and excitement of the participants at each session affirmed our hopes that this program would be a successful means of developing future leaders. We can’t wait to see how each of these participants will take their learning back to our portfolio companies, and how it will accelerate their individual career paths over the coming years.

We are pleased to announce that our first cohort of “Emerging Leaders” graduated from the ALI this past summer. We were supported in this endeavor by many executives across our portfolio companies including Rhonda Bray, Saleem S. Khatri, Dan Torrens, Nasser Chanda, David Beaulieu, Brian Reale, Heath Oderman, Jeffrey S., William Boeglin, and many others.

Above all, congratulations to the first class of ALI graduates: Carol Anderson, Blake Izaguirre, Pamela Bandy, Stacey T., Shahanna King, Rose Paz, Amir Ahmed, Nickolas Crawford, Misha Williams, Andrew Quash, Angela Sweet, Chuck Nwokocha, Jose Maldonado, Germain Manning, D’Lanor Briggins, Amilcah Gomes, and Marcus Wilkins.

For more information, please visit our website here. #EmergingLeadersProgram #GrowthEquity

Another key initiative we have championed has been our concerted effort to help our portfolio companies tap into the latent talent pool that resides in places such as Central Appalachia. In regions such as Scott County and Wise County in South Western Virginia (“SW VA”), there are numerous coal mining and tobacco towns that have been impacted as these industries have declined. Intrastate disparity is huge – the average household income in Northern Virginia is $150k, while the average household income in SW VA is about $42k. As the pace of innovation has quickened, and the technology and healthcare IT industries have rapidly expanded, people in these “fly-over” communities have not been given opportunities to participate in the new economy.

Through the efforts of leaders at our portfolio companies working closely with local government, we now have over 100 employees at eHealth and Paymerang located in SW VA, with plans to expand to 150-200 in the near term. The exceptional talent our companies have hired are amongst the most dedicated, hardworking, and eager-to-learn team members we have had the good fortune to work with. Through our own small contribution, we hope this is the beginning of some successful technology and healthcare careers in these regions.

To help us get the ball rolling in SW VA, we’d like to thank Will Payne at InvestSWVA (Southwest Virginia). Also many, many thanks to Delegate Terry Kilgore, Delegate Israel O’Quinn, Senator Todd Pillion, Mountain Empire community college, Virginia Economic Development (VEDP), Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, and far too many other folks to name. It takes many hands to build a community.

Dan Torrens, Jeff Markin, Nasser Chanda, Gloria Garber, John Heyel have all taken this initiative to heart to keep expanding their offices there.

Finally, thanks to Max Funke, Paula Gomez, Cristin Bagley, Edward Chung, Betsy Dohrer Dalton, Matt Lowen, Ian Cairns, Julian Bueno, Bridget Washington Flood, Bobby Tahir, Sambasiva Rao Samavedam, Jonathan Hui, Abdul Mateen Syed and the rest of the Aldrich team for all the hard work in helping organize the ALI and making it a success.

It is core to our personal beliefs and philosophy that we should make a difference in people’s lives and help address disparities – we really believe that investing in people is good for business and healthy for society.