Press Release
September 21, 2023
3 minute read

NJEDA Establishes Diversity Finance Advisory Board

Board will work to increase capital to minority-owned startups, create diverse innovation economy

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. (September 21, 2023) – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) today announced the establishment of the Diversity Finance Advisory Board (DFAB) which will work to increase access to institutional capital for women- and minority-owned startups. The board will provide knowledge, guidance, and insights on ways to best increase capital, access, and investments in New Jersey’s diverse entrepreneurs.

According to a survey from the National Venture Capital Associations (NVCA), venture capital investments have quadrupled across the United States over the past 10 years, but those increases are not true for startups with women or racial minorities as their founders. The State recognizes national studies that correlate with the NVCA study that finds only one percent of venture capital-backed founders are Black and less than two percent are Hispanic.

“Across the nation, women- and minority-owned startups have not benefitted from the increase in venture capital investments that white-owned startups have experienced. The Diversity Finance Advisory Board aims to rewrite that narrative and ensure New Jersey-based diverse entrepreneurs have equitable access to institutional capital,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Under Governor Phil Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey has prioritized supporting diverse entrepreneurs and growing the state’s innovation community. The creation of this advisory board, comprised of investment, entrepreneurship, and subject-matter experts with a commitment to diversity and inclusion, is another tangible step toward a stronger, fairer, and more diverse New Jersey economy.”

Sullivan announced the creation of DFAB today during a speech at the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey’s Business Leadership Conference in Woodbridge.

“Our state has put forth a strategy that has the potential to have a transformational impact on the competitiveness of New Jersey,” said John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, Founder, President & CEO, African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey. “Moreover, today’s announcement could lead to a more level playing for woman and minority owned businesses whose vision and proposed plans to establish a successful enterprise can now be realized. This is a positive step towards a more equitable future for New Jersey.”

“Black and Latino communities face long-standing barriers including those that limit their access to capital, yet these communities remain incubators of ingenuity and innovation,” said Jayné Johnson, Director of the Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. “NJEDA’s Diversity Finance Board advances the Administration’s efforts to increase access and opportunity for historically underrepresented entrepreneurs, and supports our state’s innovation economy by engaging women, Black, and Latino entrepreneurs in the venture capital market. Our state’s competitive edge is strengthened when promising, new business startups are equipped to succeed.”

DFAB, in collaboration with NJEDA staff, will work to develop and implement a holistic product set that will help make New Jersey a national leader in diversity finance. Board members will also work to develop a private-sector engagement framework to identify and engage the state’s private capital sources. Additionally, Board members will help establish partnerships to support the NJEDA’s mission to grow high-quality jobs, catalyze investment, and foster inclusive community development.

“The Diversity Finance Advisory Board will help uplift minority-owned startups, while bolstering and transforming New Jersey’s innovation economy” said Kathleen Coviello, NJEDA’s Chief Economic Transformation Officer. “By creating additional pathways for entrepreneurs to succeed, the Board will ultimately help spur innovation, create jobs, and grow the statewide economy. The NJEDA is appreciative of this inaugural board for their willingness to support the Authority and state in this critical mission.”

“The Murphy Administration’s commitment to supporting diverse entrepreneurs is good for our communities, our state, and our nation,” said Michelle Bodden, NJEDA’s Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. “The Diversity Finance Advisory Board is ready to break down barriers and unlock potential to help ensure women- and minority-owned startups have the tools and resources to grow and succeed.”

To serve on the Board, members must have a strong New Jersey nexus and demonstrate institutional development, investment, or policy experiences. Additionally, members must show a commitment to, and have experience in, the development of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) policies. The NJEDA will continue to add and supplement the initial advisory board members.

The inaugural 2023-2024 Diversity Finance Advisory Board members include:

About the NJEDA

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.

To learn more about NJEDA resources for businesses, call NJEDA Customer Care at 844-965-1125 or visit and follow @NewJerseyEDA on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.



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