Spotlight on Penelope Douglas: PCV Co-Founder and President Emeritus

Mar 04, 2013 · Amelia Pentecost

As part of PCV’s 15th anniversary celebration, we want to recognize and thank our founders and early supporters. In this blog, our focus is on PCV co-founder and President Emeritus, Penelope Douglas. We hope you are as inspired by Penelope as we are and that you will join us to celebrate PCV’s 15th anniversary and honor Penelope, co-founder Bud Colligan and our other early supporters, on Wednesday, May 22nd at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco.

By the time Penelope joined forces with PCV’s other co-founder, Bud Colligan, in 1998 she was already an accomplished social change agent, having served as Board Chair of Larkin Street Youth Services, a nonprofit working with street youth, and as the founding Board Chair of Juma Ventures, a spin-off of Larkin Street that develops employment opportunities for disadvantaged youth through the support of for-profit business ventures.

Together, with a firm belief that the “tools of venture capital”—funding, advice, networks and markets—could be brought to bear in our most vulnerable communities to create jobs and economic opportunities for people most in need, Penelope and Bud launched Silicon Valley Community Ventures. As SVCV’s impact and geographic focus grew, the organization was renamed Pacific Community Ventures in 2003.

As co-Founder and President, Penelope created and developed PCV’s model for supporting entrepreneurship and small business to transform low income neighborhoods. Penelope spearheaded the effort to raise PCV’s first equity investment funds.  She established our social due diligence methodologies—some of the first in the nation—to select portfolio companies that would yield both financial returns AND measurable social impact. Penelope assembled PCV’s initial volunteer business advisor network. And understanding the critical importance of being able to quantifiably demonstrate—with rigor and credibility—PCV’s social impact, Penelope created one of the first models for assessing social return on investment. In their totality, Penelope’s work created the foundation for PCV’s programs today—Business Advising, the SAIL  small business debt fund, PCV InSight, our research, policy and social impact assessment practice, and Pacific Community Management, PCV’s affiliated equity investment funds.

Penelope is currently Senior Executive & President of the Board at Hub Bay Area and Social Capital Markets.

Even as she built PCV, Penelope nurtured the careers of up-and-coming leaders of social innovation.  Here’s what a few people had to say:

Pete November, former Managing Director, Pacific Community Ventures:

I worked for and alongside Penelope at PCV for seven years, from 2001 – 2008.  Penelope’s faith in me, and her willingness to let me take on new levels of responsibility really launched my career as a manager, and I will never forget her for it.  Two of Penelope’s greatest attributes, which I have tried to emulate as I have moved through my own career, are her strategic thinking ability and her determination.  When Penelope had a goal in mind for the organization, she never even considered giving up until it was achieved, and that was extremely inspiring.  Though it has been nearly five years since I moved east, I am still proud to be part of the PCV family, and I have Penelope to thank for so much of that.   I think often about the number of entrepreneurs, businesses, and members of the California workforce who benefitted from her dedication and expertise.

Allison Kelly, Chief Operating Officer, Pacific Community Ventures:

I worked directly for Penelope when I joined PCV in 2008. I came to the organization with a deep respect both for what she had built here at PCV and for her vision for a better world through the work that we, and others, do. What I learned when working with her was that her ability to connect complex ideas, her perceptive read of people and her aptitude for carefully constructing context were truly exceptional. It was a privilege to work for her and I’ll always appreciate the guidance and counsel she’s provided me over the years.

Eduardo Rallo, Managing Director at PCV affiliate Pacific Community Management: 

I had the absolute privilege to work with Penelope over 12 years. I can’t be more thankful for the care she took over my career development within the organization, her dedication to the PCV cause and her astute insights and disciplines to help the organization grow and thrive. I not only see Penelope as a friend, mentor and leader but I strongly believe she has been one on the most important individuals that have given credibility to the impact investment space. Her commitment to the organization and the people involved will always be a key component of the long term success of PCV. Thank you Penelope!

Beth Sirull, President, Pacific Community Ventures: 

I feel privileged to be able to lead PCV and continue the tradition that Penelope developed of gold-standard work supporting small businesses, entrepreneurship and investment to create jobs and economic opportunities in our most vulnerable communities. Penelope’s vision and hard work built PCV and set us on the trajectory to the national stage where we’re now firmly established and growing.

Join us on May 22 as we honor Penelope!