Joanna Rees is a Managing Director of Soda Rock Partners where she serves as an investor, board member and senior advisor to several private high growth companies and non-profit organizations. Joanna is also the Managing Director of Endeavor Catalyst where she is leading the formation and capital raise of the fund supporting high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Joanna currently serves on the corporate boards of Leapfrog Enterprises (NYSE: Leap) and Hickies Inc., a private company. Joanna was a candidate for Mayor of San Francisco in November 2011.
Joanna was the founder of VSP Capital, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm focused on early-stage companies combining technical innovation with market development. Joanna has served on the board of more than 25 venture-backed start up companies across a broad range of industries. She also served on the Board of the National Venture Capital Association (“NVCA), the Coppola Companies (Francis Ford Coppola), and as Chairman of the USA for Madrid-based FON, the world’s largest WiFi community. She is currently a senior mentor and a seminar moderator at the Aspen Institute. She also is an Adjunct Professor at Santa Clara University where she teaches Leadership in the Leavey School of Business.
Joanna has significant experience in finance and investment banking including positions at BA Securities and a boutique merchant bank, Vrolyk & Co. She worked in private placements and mergers & acquisitions focused on retail, restaurant and branded consumer companies. Joanna also brings deep expertise in marketing and strategy, and has held several senior marketing management positions with Groupe Danone, a $20+ billion global consumer products firm, with her last position as head of New Product Development. Joanna began her career at DMB&B, working with clients such as General Foods, RJR Nabisco, Brown Forman, Digital Equipment Corp, and Texaco.
The World Economic Forum selected Joanna as a Year 2000 Global Leader for Tomorrow (GLT) for individuals who hold positions “of considerable power, influence and responsibility,” and are “global in terms of their accomplishments and potential.” The Aspen Institute selected Joanna for its 2002 Class of Henry Crown Fellows, a program designed to develop the next generation of community-spirited business leaders, and the National Association of Women Business Owners named her “The 2000 Entrepreneur of the Year Rising Star”. She is frequently featured in the national press (Forbes, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN, CNNfn, Business Week, etc.) as a speaker at industry conferences, and served as a spokesperson for the NVCA. Joanna is a Senior Mentor for the Crown Fellows Program at the Aspen Institute and is a Moderator for the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Joanna is active in the non-profit community. She serves on the board of New Schools Venture Fund whose mission is to improve public K-12 education by supporting education entrepreneurs, and on the Global Board of Endeavor supporting “high-impact” entrepreneurs in developing economies. She previously chaired the board of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (“NFTE”). Joanna has extensive experience with many other non-profits and education organizations including the Junior League, the March of Dimes, the V-Foundation, various private schools, the Annual Fund board at Duke University and the Duke basketball Legacy Fund.
She earned her MBA from Columbia University (beta gamma sigma) and a BS from Duke University where she was a member of the gymnastics team.