The community-led campaign to make DC the #1 city for women entrepreneurs. 

Our Mission and History

Women’s entrepreneurship is on the rise, but data show that women still face disproportionate challenges gaining access to capital and other resources that businesses need to thrive.

Just one in ten venture dollars goes to companies with a women founder.  On average, women start their businesses with half the capital of men.  Women of color face even greater barriers: of 10,284 venture deals funded from 2012-2014, just 24 involved startups led by black women—about 0.2 percent.

BEACON: The DC Women Founders Initiative is a community-led campaign to disrupt that narrative.

Our goal is to make Washington, DC a model city to demonstrate how investors, companies, mentors and government can work together to ensure women entrepreneurs have an equal opportunity to succeed.  Partnering with public and private entities, the Initiative will make Washington, DC the most influential and supportive ecosystem for women entrepreneurs in the United States. To do so, BEACON combines direct community engagement with rigorous analysis to drive policy recommendations, while also supporting ecosystem leaders and strategists through a unique grant program. Our work prioritizes four pillars, informed through direct consultation with DC's women founders: 

  1. Expanding women entrepreneur's access to capital 
  2. Providing resources and support for women entrepreneurs 
  3. Creating new business opportunities for women entrepreneurs 
  4. Inspiring the next generation of women entrepreneurs 

BEACON launched in November 2016 as a bold public-private partnership to support women entrepreneurs in Washington, DC. With leadership from Google, Georgetown Law, and the D.C. Mayor's Office, as well as grassroots energy from a broad network of women entrepreneurs, BEACON's goal is to demonstrate how businesses, service providers and government can help ensure that women entrepreneurs have an equal opportunity to succeed. 

Our Team

Shelly Bell

Founder - Black Girl Ventures

Xina Eiland

Co-Founder - Black Female Founders + Founder/CEO - X+PR

Aerica Banks

Patent Policy - Google


Executive Director, Institute for Technology Law and Policy at Georgetown Law

Joy Whitt

Economic Intelligence Analyst - Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

Julia Westfall

CEO - HeraHub DC

Deloris Wilson

Head of Strategy and Operations, BEACON + Founder/CEO, AXL

Maggie O'Neill

Co-Founder - Swatchroom + Founder, SUPERFIERCE

Tiffany Thacker (Ex-Officio)

Vice President of Programs - Washington, DC Economic Partnership (WDCEP)

Joycelyn James (Ex-Officio)

Tech and Innovation Portfolio Manager - Government of the District of Columbia

Kristina Francis

President/CEO - EsteemLogic + Member, Pipeline Angels DC

Sarah Chen

Venture Investor & Co-Founder, Lean In Malaysia

Advisory Board

Anna Mason

Partner, Rise of the Rest Seed Fund - Revolution

Shana Glenzer

Chief Marketing Officer, Crowdskout

Melissa Bradley

Managing Director, Project 500

Liz Sara

Managing Director, Best Marketing

Kathi Cover

Counsel, Sidley Austin LLP

Alicia Plerhoples

Director, Social Enterprise & Nonprofit Law Clinic at Georgetown Law

Kimberly Bassett

Executive Director, Mayor's Office on Women's Policy and Initiatives

Our Sponsors