By Emily Cieri
If you are one of the hundreds and hundreds of students that Clare Leinweber touched during her ten year tenure at Wharton Entrepreneurship, you too will feel a bittersweet pang at learning she’s left the nest. The good news is that she’s not gone far—and in her new position, she’ll have an even bigger impact with our alumni. Clare is now Director of Alumni Relations at Wharton External Affairs, and we are so happy for her. But before we let her go I wanted to try to sum up the impact that Clare has had in her decade at Wharton Entrepreneurship.
Throughout her tenure at Wharton Entrepreneurship, Clare’s steadfast and laser focus on supporting student entrepreneurs has never wavered. She always put our students first, making connections for them, providing exceptional learning opportunities, and performing countless introductions to alumni. At this point most of the alumni she was introducing to our current students knew her when they were students.
Since 2006 Clare has incubated and grown the Venture Initiation Program. When she assumed responsibility for VIP it supported just eight ventures annually. Over the past eight years she has grown the program to now supporting almost 100 ventures, with dedicated advisors, a strong educational workshop series and networking events that introduce students to a tremendous network of powerful professionals. Probably the most meaningful addition has been the development of the VIP community itself, that is now strong with current and alumni members. Clare developed a complementary VIP at Wharton ǀ San Francisco that supports both the Executive MBA students and students from Philadelphia for the Semester in San Francisco. Since 2006 she has worked with over 500 student ventures!
Clare also developed the Wharton Venture Award that provides $10,000 grants to students who forgo traditional internships to build their own business. I feel this program has had a dramatic impact at Wharton by legitimizing the entrepreneurial career path. The Wharton Venture Award both acknowledges the importance of building businesses and provides students with recognition and validation for their tremendous work.
I could go on and on about the impact Clare has had on the Wharton Entrepreneurship Alumni Dinner, or this very blog, which she was instrumental in starting, but I’ll stop here. For our alumni reading this post I’m sure you have your own stories of how Clare touched your heart and changed the course of your entrepreneurial journey.
Godspeed Clare – We look forward to our new relationship with you as you continue on your journey.