Cover Image for WE@Yale Innovators Series: Empowering New Haven Entrepreneurs: A Chat with Dawn Leaks and Caroline Smith (Yale '14) of Collab.

WE@Yale Innovators Series: Empowering New Haven Entrepreneurs: A Chat with Dawn Leaks and Caroline Smith (Yale '14) of Collab.

Past Event
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About Event

Yale Women Innovators is a speaker series designed to foster community discussion, idea sharing, and networking in support of women and non-binary femme innovators across Yale's campus. Kick off your day with a welcoming community as inspiring innovators and entrepreneurs share their stories.

Join us in conversation with Dawn Leaks, Executive Director, and Caroline Smith, Co-Founder and Director of External Affairs & Organizing, of Collab New Haven. Hear about their journeys building collective power and wealth in the New Haven community, guided by a values-aligned, collaborative, heart-centered approach. Breakfast will be provided.

Collab offers business accelerator programs to empower New Haven entrepreneurs. Ever since the organization was founded in 2017, graduates of Collab's programs—83% of whom are founders of color and 74% of whom are women—have created hundreds of jobs for the local community and generated millions in revenue.

Dawn Leaks is the Executive Director of Collab. Before Collab, she was the CEO of Lioness For The Female Entrepreneur, an online digital media company geared toward women entrepreneurs. While at Lioness, she achieved profitability by increasing revenue by 200%, expanded their global audience to over 100,000, and led the startup’s exit in 2020. Before Lioness, she was the Director of Communications at the American Red Cross of Massachusetts, where she led statewide disaster communications, public relations, and fundraising efforts. She received an MBA from Bay Path University and has served as an Entrepreneur in Residence at the UMass/Valley Venture Mentor Collegiate Summer Venture Program and Visiting Assistant Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Hampshire College. She has also served as a Facilitator of entrepreneurship programming at reSET, an accelerator in Hartford.

Caroline Tanbee Smith is a Co-Founder and Director of External Affairs & Organizing of Collab. Outside of Collab, Caroline co-founded New Haven Bike Month, a citywide volunteer-led transportation justice effort, and is an organizer with aapiNHV, a collective of Asian-identifying individuals advocating around local issues in New Haven. In addition, she serves on the Boards of local non-profits including the New Haven Free Public Library Foundation, DataHaven, and Liberty Community Services. For her work, she has received the Yale-Jefferson Award for Public Service, Connecticut Magazine's 40 Under 40, City of New Haven Individual Innovator Award, Yale University Seton Elm-Ivy Award, and one of the New Haven Independent's Millennials Persons of the Year.

Brought to you by WE@Yale, a joint initiative of the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (Tsai CITY) and the Yale SOM Program on Entrepreneurship.