Spelman College, Morehouse College and the Black Economic Alliance Foundation have 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.