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Center for Black Entrepreneurship Appoints Dr. Grant Warner as Inaugural Director Share a Spelman College Press Release


ATLANTA – (December 5, 2022)  Today, Spelman College, Morehouse College and the Black Economic Alliance Foundation announced that Grant Warner, Ph.D., will serve as the inaugural Bank of America Endowed Professor of Entrepreneurship and Director of the Center for Black Entrepreneurship’s (CBE), effective January 1, 2023. Dr. Warner, a proven leader in entrepreneurship and collegiate programming, will support the CBE’s vision to better connect Black entrepreneurs with corporate leaders and venture capitalist funding they need to succeed in the business world.

“I am honored to join the CBE, to build on Spelman’s and Morehouse’s strong legacies of innovation and partner with the Black Economic Alliance to achieve the CBE’s mission,” said Dr. Grant Warner, incoming Director of the Center for Black Entrepreneurship. “I have dedicated my career to identifying and implementing new opportunities for Black entrepreneurs, particularly at HBCUs. I strongly believe in the CBE’s vision of developing commercial pathways for Black entrepreneurs and building an ecosystem of investors and business leaders to support them, and I am excited to help bring the vision to life.”

In his role, Dr. Warner will develop a visionary and sustainable plan for the CBE that aligns with the missions of the colleges and their commitment to producing entrepreneurial graduates from multiple disciplinary backgrounds. He will partner with the Morehouse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (MIEC), the Spelman Innovation Lab, Morehouse Business Administration and Economics Division and Spelman Economics Department academic leadership to implement CBE strategic initiatives, enhance learning experiences for students pursuing the Morehouse and Spelman Entrepreneurship minors and lead an online certificate program that will be available to professionals seeking to deepen their knowledge in areas related to Black entrepreneurship.

“The CBE will benefit greatly from Dr. Warner’s leadership and vision,” said Helene Gayle, M.D., MPH, President of Spelman College. “We look forward to continuing to partner with Morehouse College and the Black Economic Alliance Foundation to further strengthen the ecosystem for aspiring Black entrepreneurs, as well as provide them with connections to corporate and venture capital funding under Dr. Warner’s leadership.”

“As a founding partner of the Center for Black Entrepreneurship, it is critical for our institutions to support the development of modern, impactful, and sustainable businesses, while continuing to foster a community of innovation for young Black entrepreneurs,” said David A. Thomas, Ph.D., President of Morehouse College. “Dr. Warner’s first-hand entrepreneurial experience, particularly in the technology innovation space, will be instrumental in implementing and expanding our participants’ growth opportunities.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Warner to the CBE,” said Samantha Tweedy, President, Black Economic Alliance Foundation. “Through his dedication to innovation and entrepreneurialism, Dr. Warner is uniquely suited to continue building upon the CBE’s mission to eliminate the access barrier between Black entrepreneurs, professional investors and business builders by harnessing the multiplier effect of education, mentorship, access to capital and opportunity for Black entrepreneurs

An established HBCU educator and technology entrepreneur with nearly two decades of experience at the intersection of innovation, business and higher education, Dr. Warner brings a unique mix of first-hand and administrative leadership to his work of increasing opportunity for students and professionals. Before joining the CBE, he was Director of Innovation and Professor at Howard University, where he developed HowU Innovate, an interdisciplinary initiative that provides campus-wide innovation programming in which students are guided through the process of founding technology startups. He also initiated the Howard University - Hampton University I-Corps Site program to commercialize university research from HBCUs with a focus on the DMV area.

Dr. Warner co-founded ConnectYard, a social analytics platform for leading learning management systems and e-learning platforms, and XediaLabs, a DC-based incubation firm that provides training and technical consulting to local startups. He has been active in the federal Lab-to-Market community as a member of the national faculty for the NSF I-Corps program, DOE Energy I-Corps program, and I-Corps at NIH. In those roles, he has provided innovation and entrepreneurship training to hundreds of teams and companies across the nation.

Dr. Warner received a B.S. degree from Cornell University, an M.S. degree from Penn State University and a Ph.D. from Columbia University all in Mechanical Engineering.

A collaboration among the BEA Foundation, Spelman College and Morehouse College, and anchored by a $10M contribution from Bank of America, the CBE aims to grow the pipeline of Black entrepreneurs and connect them to investment opportunities. Through academic training, access to mentors and exposure to the program’s robust network of business leaders and investors, CBE students will be supported in navigating the structural challenges Black entrepreneurs traditionally face when setting out to launch and sustain a business. By increasing investment in Black-founded companies, the CBE will ultimately contribute to closing the investment gap.


Media Contacts

Black Economic Alliance, Ralph Mays, 678.672.7907; rmays@skdknick.com

Morehouse College: Jasmine Gurley, 404.242.8851; jasmine.gurley@morehouse.edu

Spelman College: Lydia Sermons, 470.898.6451; LydiaSermons@Spelman.edu

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About the Black Economic Alliance Foundation

The Black Economic Alliance Foundation is the nation’s leading organization harnessing the collective expertise and influence of Black business leaders and aligned advocates to build economic prosperity and generational wealth for the Black community. We partner with leaders across the public, private, and social sectors to champion policy reimagination, develop investment and philanthropic programs, commission research, and elevate national understanding of the inextricable link between the health of the Black economy and the entire American economy. The BEA Foundation is the 501(c)(3) non-profit affiliate of the Black Economic Alliance, a nonpartisan coalition of Black business leaders and allies committed to advancing work, wages, and wealth in the Black community. | foundation.blackeconomicalliance.org


About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country’s leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 54 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 19 for undergraduate teaching, No. 4 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 14th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and partnerships have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit www.spelman.edu.


About Morehouse College

Morehouse College is the only historically Black college dedicated to educating men. Founded in 1867, Morehouse is a private, liberal arts institution and the nation’s top producer of Black men who go on to receive doctorates. The College is the top producer of Rhodes Scholars among HBCUs and was named to the list of U.S. institutions that produced the most Fulbright Scholars in 2019-2020. As the epicenter for thought leadership on civil rights, Morehouse is committed to helping the nation address the inequities caused by institutional racism, which has created social and economic disparities for people of African descent. Prominent Morehouse alumni include Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General; Shelton “Spike” Lee, Academy Award-winning American filmmaker; Maynard H. Jackson, the first African American mayor of Atlanta; Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; Louis W. Sullivan, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services; Bakari Sellers, attorney and CNN political analyst; Randall Woodfin, elected as the youngest mayor of Birmingham in 120 years; and U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, Georgia’s first Black U.S. Senator. For more information, visit https://morehouse.edu.

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