Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon has just landed the role of Chief Executive Officer of All Raise.
Mandela will lead the non-profit, whose mission is to advance women and non-binary folks in tech and venture capital. She replaces Pam Kostka who departed All Raise in December.
The move marks Mandela’s meteoric rise in Silicon Valley. The former sixth-grade teacher has managed to navigate the Valley to become a well-respected investor, serial entrepreneur, and VC operator, known for her keen ability as a bridge-builder.
All Raise went through a rigorous hiring process before selecting Mandela. They say they were deeply impressed by her nuanced understanding of the VC-backed tech ecosystem, she is simultaneously an insider, but with an outsider mentality.
“The first time I met Mandela was in an angel investing class,” said Jess Lee, All Raise Co-Founder & Board Member. “During a spirited debate about an investment in a non-obvious founder with an unusual business model, Mandela spoke up. As others chipped away at the TAM and CAC/LTV ratio, she took the other side. She commanded the room, spoke with conviction, and made the case for a founder who did not fit the traditional Silicon Valley mold.
“Where others saw lack of credentials, she saw distance traveled. Where others saw failures, she saw grit and perseverance,” added Lee. “From that point onwards, the tide subtly shifted in the debate. Though I did not realize it at the time, what I had just witnessed was a quintessential Mandela trait: championing the cause of the underdog. Years later, it turns out Mandela was right—that company is doing very well. It is clear that Mandela has been aligned with the mission of All Raise for a very long time.”
Indeed, Mandela’s career has given her an unparalleled perspective from all vantages within tech, as a two-time founder, advisor, angel investor, VC operator, and most of all, a champion for overlooked and underestimated talent.
Born to two civil rights lawyers united in an interracial marriage, equity has always been a cornerstone of Mandela’s life. After joining Teach for America, she earned a master’s degree in education and began her Ph.D. studies towards a professorship. However, the startup bug bit Mandela after a hackathon made her realize she could make reverberating impacts by using technology to amplify her efforts in education.
At age 25, she co-founded her first company, a professional online network for educators. She then became an operating director at both Startup Weekend and Kapor Capital. Most recently, as Founder and CEO of Founder Gym, the leading online program training underrepresented founders to raise capital, Mandela helped 650+ underrepresented founders raise $130M and coached 10% of all Black women to ever raise $1M+.
All Raise’s mission is to create a more diverse tech ecosystem. They believe that an inclusive industry ensures that a myriad of perspectives is well represented among the founders, funders, and operators who will lead us into the future.
A spokesperson said when they set out to find the next All Raise CEO, they knew they needed a leader that possessed both a nuanced understanding of the VC-backed tech ecosystem, as well as a deep empathy for what it is like to be marginalized and excluded.
They prioritized someone whose equity work illustrates a genuine passion for diversity and a learner’s mindset, she added. “We were searching for a founder mentality: a clear vision, strategic thinking, and the ability to will into existence something that’s never been done before.”