Upstart Co-Lab is coordinated by a small team experienced in impact investing, social entrepreneurship, business development, project management, and work across the range of artistic disciplines. Working with Upstart’s Strategic Partners, the team conceptualizes and implements projects, monitors progress, and captures lessons.
Laura Callanan is the founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab, disrupting how creativity is funded by connecting impact investing to the creative economy.
Laura was senior deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, leading all grant-making programs, operations, and research before launching Upstart Co-Lab in 2015.
As a consultant with McKinsey & Company’s Social Sector Office, Laura led work on social innovation, sustainable capitalism, and social impact assessment. She previously served as senior adviser at the United Nations Development Programme; executive director of the Prospect Hill Foundation; and associate director at the Rockefeller Foundation where, in addition to her responsibilities managing the endowment, she co-led the Foundation’s first impact investing efforts which included two investments in the creative economy: Smithsonian Folkways Records and netomat.
Laura is a board member and immediate past chair for GlobalGiving Foundation, a board member of Upriver Studios, and a member of the British Council Policy and Evidence Centre for the Creative Industries – International Council. She has been a visiting fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, a scholar-in-residence at UC-Berkeley/Haas School of Business, a visiting scholar to the American Academy in Rome, the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship, and an adjunct professor at the New York University’s Stern School of Business. Laura is a past advisor to Shift Capital, a past member of the board of Signature Theatre and the Corporation of Yaddo, and a founding investment committee member and audit committee member for the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
An expert on impact investing, philanthropy and the creative economy, Laura has been published and quoted in The New York Times, Financial Times, Fast Company, Monocle, Forbes, Barron’s, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Harvard Business Review, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Art Newspaper and elsewhere. She is a frequent speaker at social sector conferences including the Global Steering Group on Impact Investing, the Skoll World Forum, SOCAP, the Smithsonian Institution Power of Giving, Mission Investors Exchange, Independent Sector, Grantmakers in the Arts, Americans in the Arts, AtlanticLive and many others.
After graduating from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs with a Master of Public Administration degree, Laura worked in public finance investment banking serving universities and other large endowed nonprofit organizations on behalf of JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers, and as associate treasurer for the Wallace Foundation. Laura’s undergraduate degree in theater is from Barnard College of Columbia University.
Laura is the literary executrix for the estate of playwright and novelist Romulus Linney.
- McKinsey & Company: How an alum is disrupting funding for creativity and culture
- ImpactAlpha Agents of Impact: Laura Callanan
- Real Leaders: The Innovator Connecting Impact Investing to The Creative Economy
- Exeter Alumni Bulletin: Laura Callanan
Serena Desai | Project Coordinator
Serena Desai is in her first year at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service in the MPA-PNP program. Previously, Serena worked for a Councilmember in San Jose, California where she specialized in Housing, Economic Development, and Environmental policy. Out of her passion for sustainability, Serena contributed to legislation on a Straws Upon Request Ordinance for the City of San Jose. Serena studied Marine Biology at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
Sophie Forest | Assistant Director - Investments
Sophie Forest has been focused on impact investing since discovering the field during her freshman year of university. Her passion for helping investors realize their values led her to internships at high net worth wealth management firms and an impact-focused nonprofit. Prior to joining Upstart Co-Lab, Sophie was at Cambridge Associates on the Sustainable and Impact Investing Team (formerly the Mission-Related Investing Team) where she conducted fund manager research.
Sophie is a 2018 graduate of McGill University with a major in finance. Sophie has passed the CFA Level I and II exams.
Katherine Kelter | Impact Investing Associate
Katherine Kelter realized her passion for impact investing in college, dedicating her senior thesis to exploring impact investing as an alternative to foreign aid dependency in Tanzania. Prior to joining Upstart Co-Lab, Katherine served as an account manager at the global crowdfunding platform Kiva where she helped strategic partners make micro-loans, expanding financial access for underserved communities. Earlier in her career, Katherine worked for the Chem Chem Association, implementing a microfinance program for women in Tanzania. Katherine is a graduate of Trinity College with a double major in Economics and Urban Studies.
Sarah Lang | Assistant Director
Sarah Lang is an experienced non-profit administrator and researcher with a background in fundraising, events and project management. She has worked for major New York institutions, including Lincoln Center Theater and Signature Theatre, and has provided research support for numerous theater and television projects. Prior to her time in New York, Sarah was a Teach for America Corps Member in St. Louis, MO, where she taught for two years at an arts-integrated magnet school, incorporating creativity and arts learning into the curriculum. She holds an MEd from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and a BA in political science and theater arts from Boston College.
Bonny Moellenbrock | Principal, Millbrook Impact
Bonny Moellenbrock is a nationally recognized impact investing pioneer who provides strategic counsel to leaders, foundations, firms and organizations deploying investment and philanthropic dollars to make a difference. For the past twenty years, she has worked with leading firms at the creative margin of business, philanthropy, and policy to advance social justice and address environmental challenges.
From 2011 to 2017, Bonny served as Executive Director of Investors’ Circle (now Social Venture Circle), the largest and most active early-stage impact investing network in the world. Since 1992, IC has propelled over $200 million into 340+ for-profit enterprises dedicated to improving the environment, education, health, and community. Previously, she was a Managing Director at SJF Ventures, a leading impact venture fund investing in high-growth, positive impact companies in the cleantech, sustainability, and tech-enhanced services sectors, and Executive Director of SJF Institute, its affiliated nonprofit.
Prior to SJF, Bonny was COO and CFO of Preservation NC, and served on the management team of an entrepreneurial commercial recycling company. Bonny serves on the Advisory Boards of AMCREF Community Capital, Solidarity Capital, and Crossing Capital, and on the board of the Justice Theater Project. She holds an MBA, a Master of Regional Planning, and a BA in Environmental Policy, Phi Beta Kappa, from UNC-Chapel Hill, and is a graduate of the Venture Capital Institute.
Ward Wolff | Associate Director
Ward Wolff joined Upstart Co-Lab after receiving his MBA from New York University Stern School of Business, specializing in finance, real estate, and social innovation & impact. Poets & Quants selected Ward as one of the “100 Best & Brightest MBAs” from the Class of 2017 globally.
Ward was a Social Impact Fellow with the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management, consulting on sustainable development for rapidly growing cities in Colombia and the Philippines with a focus on parks and public open space. He also represented NYU in the MBA Impact Investing Networking & Training (MIINT) program, where he now serves as an advisor.
Previously, Ward co-founded Recess, an online platform to activate community spaces and recreation facilities. At City Parks Foundation he led brand partnerships and corporate sponsorships for its flagship performing arts festival, SummerStage. Ward graduated magna cum laude from Middlebury College with a BA in English and Creative Writing.
Originally from the SF Bay Area, Ward is currently based in Los Angeles. He is a member of the Middlebury Performing Arts Council and serves on the Engagement Task Force for the California Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land.
Agility and flexibility have been key to moving fast and punching above our weight. The following colleagues have been part of the Upstart team, and will jump back into the right projects in future.
Ron Anahaw | Program Assistant
Ron Anahaw has previously worked at PEN America, MCC Theater, and the Austin Film Festival in administration. He is also a playwright, poet, and multimedia creator with a focus on community and collaboration between artists from underrepresented backgrounds, and 2018 Kenyon Playwrights Conference participant.
Ron is a 2019 graduate of Bennington College with a degree in Drama and Literature.
Lindsay Barenz | Founder and CEO, Maxamoo
Lindsay Barenz is the founder and CEO of Maxamoo, a company connecting artists to new audiences with curated event recommendations and exposure to outsider artists and performers.
She was a White House Fellow in the White House Office of Management and Budget and formerly an attorney with the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York City where she was responsible for managing complex corporate transactions and counseling clients on mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments and securities law matters. During her time with Cleary Gottlieb, she served on the firm’s Diversity and Mentoring Committees and provided pro bono legal services to the New York City Investment Fund, the Middle Eastern Documentary Film Foundation and the Name Change Project with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.
From 2004-2005 she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Betty Binns Fletcher on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Lindsay is a graduate of Yale Law School and the University of Utah.
Catherine Chao | Founding Partner, Grains of Salt
Catherine Chao, Founding Partner, Grains of Salt is a RISD-trained architect with an engineering background in product design from Stanford University. She also recently received both an MBA and Masters in Urban Planning from Columbia University. Alongside being a perpetual student, she worked as an architect in New York, Berkeley, Taipei, and Tokyo; taught drawing representation and design studio at the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons the New School for Design; and worked in Land Use Review at the New York City Department of Transportation. She is a maker, a tinkerer, and a visual artist who carries a sketchbook with her wherever her feet take her.
Nam Phuong Doan | Associate
Nam Phuong Doan is a NYC-based design strategist and researcher working at the intersection of design, technology and community. Her work has allowed her to explore different sectors, from art-tech to impact investing for the creative economy. As a designer and strategist, Nam is passionate about leveraging design and social innovation to engage with emerging issues, from access to healthcare to climate change. Nam holds an M.S. in Strategic Design & Management from Parsons School of Design, and a B.A. in Digital Media & Entrepreneurship from Bennington College.
Patricia Finneran | Executive Director, Story Matters
Patricia Finneran is a leader in the nonprofit media and social impact space with more than 15 years at organizations including Sundance Institute, AFI and IFP New York.
In 2012, Patricia founded Story Matters to develop a specialized practice in media impact strategy, with an emphasis on documentary film. Clients include the National Alliance for Media Arts, Results for America, Corruption Watch UK, BRITDOC, Good Pitch, Harmony Institute, HOTDOCS and Kering. Feature film outreach projects: Bully, Care, How to Survive A Plague, The Revolutionary Optimists are supported by a range of foundations such as Fledgling, Ford, MacArthur, Gates, OSF and Skoll.
Previously, at the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Patricia oversaw creative partnerships. As Festival Director, she led the growth of SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival to become the largest event of its kind in the US, and created the International Documentary Conference.
Patricia graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University, and from the Conservatory at the American Film Institute.
Julien Gafarou | Senior Associate
Julien Gafarou consults with impact investing and international development organizations. He leads deal flow for direct deals and portfolio data analysis for TONIIC and its T100 project. At ClearlySo, Julien screened investment applications from social enterprises. As a Senior Consultant with Dalberg, Julien led research projects for global foundations and development institutions. Julien previously worked with Societe Generale Corporate and Investment Banking, IBM Global Business Services and Expand Research,a company of the Boston Consulting Group. Julien holds a M.Sc. in Engineering from Institut Superieur d’Electronique de Paris.
Haven Herrin | Summer Associate
Haven Herrin is a queer, trans, and white Southerner from Texas. Painting, printmaking, and dance are how they first came to understand and interact with the world. Haven carried those passions through formal schooling at the University of Richmond in Virginia and informally through culture work like DJ’ing queer dance nights and designing logos for Trans-led projects. After fifteen years challenging Christian Supremacy at the LGBTQI organization Soulforce, they are now attending Yale University in a dual degree program between the Divinity School and the School of Management.
Shelley Hoy | Fellow
Shelley Hoy is currently completing her Masters in Public Administration at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School for Public Service specializing in innovative solutions to international aid and development problems. While at NYU, she has provided teaching support to faculty members in the fields of management and social entrepreneurship, and in Summer 2017 interned with Ashoka’s Social Financial Services team in Washington, D.C.
Previously, Shelley worked in the New York City tech startup world, where she was one of the first employees of ShopKeep, an iPad-based cash register system for small businesses. Over the course of 5+ years at ShopKeep, she served as Senior Director of People Operations, Director of Business Operations, Director of eCommerce, and Operations Manager.
Shelley is a StartingBloc Fellow and holds a BA in Theater from Hamilton College. Her early life spent in the arts underlies all her current work.
Jill Isenbarger | Consultant
For the past decade, Jill Isenbarger served as the Executive Director and CEO of Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. Stone Barns Center is working to change the way America eats and farms through programming that advances sustainable agriculture and a culture of eating that can support it. Jill worked to build Stone Barns Center’s brand among thought-leaders and partners, and accelerated the organization’s convening power and national voice on issues at the intersection of food production and environmental conservation. Under her leadership, Stone Barns Center launched an innovative Farm Lab; initiated the, “Food for Tomorrow Conference,” in partnership with the New York Times; published an acclaimed book of essays Letters to a Young Farmer (Princeton Architectural Press); developed a first-in-class Young Farmer Program; and piloted an intensive Fellowship Program for young leaders in the food movement.
Jill served as Chief of Staff at The Nature Conservancy where she was responsible for mobilizing 4,000 employees in 35 countries and working with President, Board of Directors, and Executive Leadership Team to oversee an annual operating budget exceeding $450 million and more than $5 billion in assets. She helped execute two of largest private fundraising campaigns in conservation history, and worked to develop several signature corporate partnerships that helped businesses advance corporate social responsibility and sustainability goals.
Prior to her 10 years at The Nature Conservancy, Jill worked for Harvard University Law School and U.S. Senator Carl Levin, and helped shape the marketing program for an international architectural firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Nicole Lau | Volunteer
Nicole Lau specializes in the areas of community development finance and small business growth. She is the Founder of Urban Made Project, an online publication that aims to educate and inspire discussions on the need for local manufacturing by telling the stories of the people working in the garment industry. Her love for the garment industry stems from her work with Save the Garment Center, a grassroots organization that connects local factories and emerging designers to industry resources and advocates for a robust fashion ecosystem.
In the past, Nicole interned for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and TruFund Financial Services, two national CDFIs, and has worked on policy projects for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and the NYC Department of Mental Health and Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) to scale up small businesses and increase local procurement.
Nicole received her B.A. in Urban Studies and M.S. in Public and Urban Policy from The New School in New York City.
Prentice Onayemi | Founding Partner, Grains of Salt
Prentice Onayemi, Founding Partner, Grains of Salt is a performer and social entrepreneur who most recently led ArtPlace America’s efforts to boost the efficacy of artist-driven community development across the US as their Director of Partnerships and Communications. Trained as an actor, his performing credits range from downtown NYC passion projects to Broadway mainstays and span over a dozen countries. He co-founded Asmi International, a nonprofit that trained NGOs to offer creative self-expression and literacy workshops in post-conflict zones, and co-founded JACK – a performing arts venue in Brooklyn, NY. He holds a BFA from NYU and an MBA from Columbia University.
Garrett Ulosevich | Principal, Bell Creek Consulting
Garrett Ulosevich is an expert in helping mission-driven organizations successfully undertake transformations and major change initiatives. He has advised senior leaders and assisted organizations in leading federal and state government organizations and non-profits with missions spanning education, public finance, law enforcement and public safety, housing and development, science and technology, revenue management, diplomacy and defense, and shared services.
Previously, Garrett served as a leader of McKinsey’s Public Sector and Organization practices, becoming one of McKinsey’s most experienced practitioners of designing and delivering large transformation efforts in complex public-sector organizations. He led McKinsey’s research on achieving major change in government, publishing several articles and reports. Prior to McKinsey, Garrett worked at Capital One, where he helped lead the stand-up of the company’s Internet group, and at the Federal Reserve Board, where he supported research and policy development in the areas of developing country banking systems and financial risk.
Garrett also served on the Obama-Biden Transition Team where he assisted in setting up the agency review process and teams and advising on cross-agency collaboration models. He received a BA in Economics from Trinity University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Upstart is committed to helping people start-up careers in the arts and social innovation. We are grateful to our interns:
Sydney Bradley, Bennington College
Thanisa Durongkaveroj, Oberlin College
Nare Filiposyan, Bennington College
Nam Phoung Doan, Bennington College
Sangeeth Raja Selvaraju, Bennington College