Twin Cities Startup Week 2021 Twin Cities Startup Week 2021
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Program-Related Investments in Healthcare

- CDT
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Jeff Ochs
Venn Foundation, CEO

A recognized social entrepreneur and thought-leader, Jeff is the Founding CEO of Venn Foundation, a nonprofit public charity on a mission to unleash the full power of a unique, but underused, philanthropic tool called Program-Related Investments (PRIs). PRIs are below-market investments primarily made to further a charitable impact.

Prior to launching Venn Foundation, Jeff first founded and directed Breakthrough Twin Cities, a nonprofit college access and teacher training program. He then invented and commercialized a hit educational party game that won the prestigious Mensa Select award and was licensed by Hasbro. Next, Jeff served as the Executive Director of an angel investor network; managed the University of Minnesota’s Discovery Capital program; and consulted for foundations making PRIs into social enterprises. Jeff has a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Minnesota, and he played a leadership role in drafting and advocating for Minnesota's Public Benefit Corporation statute. He was recognized with the “40 Under 40” award by the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal in 2015 and as "100 People to Know in 2020" by Twin Cities Business.

Erica Barnes
Chloe Barnes Advisory Council on Rare Diseases, Administrator

Ms. Barnes administers the Chloe Barnes Advisory Council on Rare Diseases. The Minnesota Rare Disease Advisory Council was legislatively established by the State of Minnesota in 2019 to address the gaps in care for the 1 in 10 Minnesotans living with a rare disease by convening cross-sector, multi-system experts in rare diseases in order to improve outcomes for this patient population. The Council is housed at the University of Minnesota Medical School. In addition to her role as Council Administrator, Ms. Barnes chairs the NIH funded Global Leukodystrophy Initiative Clinical Trials Network (GLIA-CTN) Patient Advocacy Committee and has over 10 years of experience in advocacy and influencing policy related to rare diseases. She is the recipient of numerous awards such as the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) Rare Impact Award and Global Genes RARE Champion of Hope finalist.

Kenna Dooley
Children's Cancer Research Fund, Director of Development and Donor Relations

Kenna Dooley has led the major gift program as Director of Development and Donor Relations at Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF) since September 2019. CCRF’s focus is to support the research of bright scientists across the country whose ideas can make the greatest impact for children fighting cancer. The national nonprofit also funds resources and programs that help families who are fighting cancer stay strong, find community, and take care of themselves.

A native Minnesotan, Dooley received her bachelor’s degree from the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN.  After graduating from St. Ben’s, Dooley served as a volunteer in the United States Peace Corps, stationed in Botswana, where she co-led a home-based care program for HIV patients and AIDS orphans.  

Prior to joining CCRF, Dooley spent more than 15 years in nonprofit development within the education and health sectors, serving in leadership roles at both Holy Family Catholic High School and Mercy Hospital Foundation, part of Allina Health.  

She lives in Minnetonka with her husband, Adam, and their three young children.  In recent years, her community volunteerism has been focused on fundraising and capacity building at her children’s school.

Dooley’s passion for her position and the mission Children’s Cancer Research Fund stem from the generous donors and brilliant doctors she has the privilege of working with, as well as the brave families she has the honor to serve every day.

Chris Ghere
University of Minnesota, Senior Technology Portfolio Manager, Technology Commercialization

Chris Ghere is a Senior Technology Portfolio Manager in the Technology Commercialization office at the University of Minnesota. He works to transfer inventions created by faculty out of the University to large businesses, startup companies and nonprofits to get those innovations out to the world.

Chris manages a portfolio of software innovations and runs the University's MNBridge program. The MNBridge program is focused on finding capital to assist inventors/innovations through the early productization phases prior to attracting a business, startup or nonprofit to license a technology.


Explore how a powerful philanthropic tool called "Program-Related Investments" (PRIs) is helping more promising, early-stage healthcare technologies get to market.  In this session, attendees will (1) get an introduction to PRIs and PRI syndication; (2) learn how the University of Minnesota is using PRIs in technology commercialization, especially in healthcare; (3) dive more deeply into one PRI anchored by Children's Cancer Research Fund to advance a University Osteosarcoma Prognostic Test; and (4) explore the broader potential for PRIs to revolutionize commercialization of rare disease therapies.