Minneapolis, MN

Chief Executive Officer, WomenVenture

The Organization

Ballinger Leafblad is pleased to conduct the search for CEO at WomenVenture, a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis, Minnesota

WomenVenture is a vibrant Twin Cities-based non-profit organization focused on providing women of all ages, cultures, races, and income levels with the tools and resources to achieve economic success through small business ownership.

Over its 42-year history, the organization has served over 105,000 clients with in-depth training, expert advice, access to capital (loans), and a network of support.

WomenVenture is an economic development agency designated as an SBA Women’s Business Center, one of the largest in the country. Also a CDFI, WomenVenture has been honored as a top CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) in six of the past eight years.

The staff at WomenVenture describe the organizational culture as mission-driven, focused on goals and clients, helpful, friendly, progressive, collaborative and fast-paced with lots of new ideas. Staff are proud of how they have seamlessly pivoted to continue serving clients during the pandemic.

WomenVenture was formed in a 1989 merger of two prominent women-serving organizations, CHART and WEDCO.

In 1977, local leaders established CHART, a nonprofit organization supporting women entering or re-entering the workforce and to assist women with the skills and support needed to take responsibility for their own workplace satisfaction and career development.

Another nonprofit, WEDCO (Women’s Economic Development Corp.) was established in 1982. The goals of WEDCO were to increase the economic self-sufficiency of women through self-employment, improve women’s access to capital, and to act as a catalyst in connecting women to emerging business opportunities.

In 1989, CHART and WEDCO merged and became WomenVenture. The joining of these two distinguished organizations created a new entity offering a full spectrum of services related to career and business development for an increasingly diverse population of clients that included teens, technology-driven businesses, women in non-traditional construction trades, and more.

Through the years, WomenVenture has continued to evolve to assist women-owned businesses guided by values of integrity, embracing diversity, change agency and persistence. Today, WomenVenture is made up of 25 staff and over 200 volunteers who serve clients throughout Minnesota.


To empower entrepreneurial women with tools, capital, and support to lead businesses that create living wage jobs.

To help women attain economic self-sufficiency through the creation and growth of profitable and sustainable businesses.

The services and programs provided by WomenVenture are oriented around four pillars of success:

Entrepreneurship Information Session reviews the variety of services available from WomenVenture for those planning to start or expand a business.

GettingReady class is designed to help emerging entrepreneurs determine whether small business ownership is right for them.

Small Business Essentials is a 15-week series that covers all of the critical components of creating and fine-tuning a business plan.

Accelerating Success is a 10-session class for women who have been in business for at least two years and have annual revenue over $100k, but have hit a plateau and are looking for a way to take their business to the next level. This course fills the space between the classes for start-ups and classes for much larger businesses. Course highlights include development of deeper financial business acumen, creation of a measurable and achievable growth plan, using strategic marketing to meet their growth goals, and participation in a BWC® Peer Circle upon course completion.

ScaleUp! is an education and coaching program offered by WomenVenture with the support of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). It is designed to accelerate progress for experienced women business owners who want to achieve exponential growth and create new jobs with pay well above minimum wage.

WomenVenture also provides Lunch & Learn sessions throughout the year on pertinent topics for women business owners.

Child Care was launched in 2017 as WomenVenture’s first specific programming, created in an effort to combat the looming child care crisis in Minnesota.

In 2019, a new one-session program called Exploring Child Care was launched as an entry point for women entrepreneurs interested in starting a child care business. This two-and-a-half hour course provides insight into the business of providing quality child care, including an overview of state licensing requirements and a summary of the financial realities of starting a child care business.

If clients want to continue, the next course is the Family Child Care Business Essentials training course. This 10-session course leverages a nationally known family child care business curriculum.

WomenVenture has also launched a plan for entrepreneurs who want to start child care centers. Participants will move through the established Small Business Essentials curriculum, while receiving additional guidance and resources specific to the child care industry. Additional financial training is also provided.

WomenVenture offers loans from $1,000 to $50,000 to qualified new and existing business owners. WomenVenture is a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), and Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) lender.

Businesses in the 16-county Twin Cities metro area are able to take advantage of this program which includes access to business advisors for the duration of the loan.

WeLend initiative, is a transformative microlending program to reach low-income entrepreneurs.

MnDOT Working Capital Loan Fund has appointed WomenVenture to administer their funding for certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE). This includes help with the loan application as well as financial training, support and assistance.

Loan clients and clients taking training courses have a unique opportunity to receive business advice on a variety of topics from experts who volunteer their time to advise on myriad of subjects.

A strong intentional community of support is integral to the success of new and expanding business owners. WomenVenture provides facilitated peer circles, business mentors, networking opportunities and help from expert advisors to all the women in the classes.

Position Overview


The CEO at WomenVenture provides strategic leadership to the organization, interacting frequently with Board, staff members and external stakeholders including:
• Donors and Philanthropic Leaders
• Community Collaborators and Non-profit Peers
• Government and Legislative Officials
• Banking Partners
• Board Committee Members

The CEO leads a dedicated team of 25 staff and approximately 200 volunteers. The role is responsible for strategic vision and managerial oversight for philanthropy, finance, lending, programs, communications, external and community relations. The annual budget for the organization is $2.5 million. The loan portfolio is $2.6 million with average loan amount of $20,000. The position is open due to the retirement of CEO Elaine Wyatt who has been with WomenVenture since 2013.

Essential Responsibilities 

  • Engage and mobilize the organization in pursuit of the mission, vision, and strategic objectives of the organization and its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, and client service.
  • Mobilize the organization toward growth in programs, markets and organizational performance.
  • Represent the organization in the community; maintain a leadership presence for WomenVenture in the small business community.
  • Serve as a role model for all stakeholders in adhering to the highest ethical standards.
  • Recruit, retain and develop a talented and diverse staff. Provide coaching and support to staff members.
  • Identify, measure, and communicate the metrics that demonstrate progress in achieving the mission and vision.
  • Build and maintain a positive organizational culture and high employee engagement.

Financial Results 

  • Develop appropriate annual and long-term financial objectives.
  • Lead WomenVenture in consistently achieving these objectives, including a balanced operating budget.

Resource Development & Fundraising 

  • Manage fundraising strategies for the organization; personally manage major donor relationships.
  • Oversee the Loan Portfolio program; assure efficiency and effectiveness in lending processes.
  • Increase loan production to serve the needs of the community.
  • Ensure robust financial management of the loan portfolio, maintaining adequate loan loss reserves and industry standard metrics. Communication
  • Ensure the organization has a strong presence in the small business community, effectively promoting the organization’s brand and connecting entrepreneurial women to programs and services.

Community and External Relations

  • Actively engage with key stakeholder groups; lead effective outreach and engagement of diverse communities; serve as the external spokesperson for the organization and build collaborative alliances with a variety of funders, partners and advisors to fulfill the organization’s mission and strategic plan.


  • Develop short and long-term plans that support the mission and vision of the organization.
  • Identify, measure, and communicate strategic plan metrics that demonstrate progress in achieving goals.

Board Governance 

  • Collaborate and communicate fully with board members in all material matters; leverage the skills, relationships, and resources of individual Board members to achieve the goals of WomenVenture.
  • Ensure strong governance policies and practices including the selection and recruitment of new board and board committee members.

Management Responsibilities
The CEO reports to the WomenVenture Board of Directors, comprised of a passionate, diverse and engaged group of 25 business, civic and community leaders. The Board and CEO set the strategy for the organization.

Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer is a leadership team including Chief Financial Officer, Women’s Business Center Director, Communications Director, Development Director, and Director of Program Innovation.


  • Successful experience leading a complex organization and a track record of growth and innovation.
  • Finance and budgeting experience that includes understanding of profit and loss statements, cash flow analysis, and small business finances. Experience might include managing a loan portfolio or in community banking.
  • Broad knowledge and background with other business functions and systems including information technology, human resources, process improvement and marketing.
  • Experience and success implementing fund raising and/or generating revenue through a variety of development tactics.
  • Experience working on a nonprofit board and/or significant experience in the nonprofit sector including understanding of Board governance structure, funding strategies for nonprofits and donor relations.

Leadership Characteristics

  • Management experience leading, developing, delegating and supporting a committed, professional staff.
  • Deep commitment and focus on equity and inclusion; able to understand, relate and connect with clients from underserved communities. Committed to furthering a more inclusive workplace at WomenVenture.
  • A leadership style that is bold, innovative, future-focused, open, flexible and fun.
  • An appreciation and understanding of entrepreneurs and their unique challenges.
  • Strong speaking and interpersonal skills with the ability to motivate people towards a common vision.
  • Proven experience in relationship development and partnerships with public and private entities.

The compensation range for this position is $115,000 – $130,000 and includes participation in the organization’s comprehensive benefits program.

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How To Apply


Marcia Ballinger, PhD


Damon Shoholm, MA

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