Lisa Calhoun: Inclusion Begins in Unlikely Places

Tanya Isley
Headshot of white woman with short hair smiling.

Just a short distance down I-75, about an hour and twenty minutes from the unrelenting traffic congestion of the “Black Mecca” formally known as Atlanta, is a tiny place where life slows down. No congestion. No traffic. No hurry. Just a simple city where the living is easy, and the motto is “A small town with a big heart.” 

Roberta, Georgia, with a population of less than 1,000 of which more than 60 percent of its citizens identify as white, may lack the diversity and energy of Atlanta but it gave the state’s largest city an innovative visionary who has dedicated her career to promoting inclusion in everything she does. Lisa Calhoun grew up in that little rural town and became the first woman to launch a venture capital firm in the state of Georgia.

Inclusion is what drives Calhoun, the founder and general partner of Atlanta-based Valor Ventures. It’s sprinkled throughout her speech, which is lively and vibrant when she talks about it. It’s her firm’s mission: “Making inclusion the new normal.” It’s what she looks for when she considers investing in a startup, not just in the founders but ensuring that it’s a part of the company’s character because it’s definitely Valor’s. 

Read Lisa’s story in our Winter/Spring 2020 digital issue.




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