Leigh-Ann Buchanan: Executive director of linkage site Venture Café Miami
As a lawyer, Leigh-Ann Buchanan specialized in complex commercial and financial litigation focusing on white-collar defense.
Ms. Buchanan, founding executive director of Venture Café Miami, said she enjoyed the work, but not as much as she did her involvement in community engagement peripheral to her profession, to which she naturally gravitated, including service as chairwoman of the American Bar Association’s Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice.
In 2014, Ms. Buchanan founded the Nyah Project, a nonprofit fellowship that gives underserved youths in Miami-Dade transformative experiences abroad and has astounding college acceptance and scholarship rates.
“I ultimately decided I wanted all my work to align around creating meaningful impacts in the community, using my legal and business skill sets but also thinking about how to [help] people have greater access to opportunities and some sense of determination in furthering their lot in life,” she said.
That led her to Venture Café, a platform created at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Boston as a way to create opportunities for communities by providing “connective tissue” between innovative entrepreneurs, mentors and investors, among other critical links.
Venture Café Miami launched in 2016. At the time, it was the fourth of its kind in the world. Today, there are eight, including overseas operations in Rotterdam, Tokyo and Sydney, with more on the way.
“I love to be a broker of social capital [who creates] greater connections, access [to] great opportunities [and makes] those more available to a broader cross-section of the community,” she said. “In Miami, a lot [was] happening around entrepreneurship and innovation, but they were inherently siloed and disconnected, much like driving around Miami. I identified the gap that existed here [and figured out] how to create a space that could bridge those connections.”
Ms. Buchanan sat down with Miami Today reporter Jesse Scheckner. The interview, recorded by Jahmoukie Dayle, can be found Friday at http://bit.ly/2UdTyGr.
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