"I lived & worked in NYC, but Pittsburgh feels like the perfect-sized city."
As the digital & community engagement manager for Innovation Works, one of the leading national seed-stage investors, Jenn Van Dam is on the cutting edge of entrepreneurship and innovation in southwestern Pennsylvania. Innovation Works (IW) invests capital, business expertise and other resources into high-potential start-up companies, which was a perfect fit for Jenn’s career interests.
“It’s serendipitous that IW is a non-profit in the tech space because it combines my tech background with my desire for helping people. It’s an awesome opportunity to give funding to startups that wouldn’t have a chance to grow otherwise, and I like contributing to the growth of my community.” Jenn wears many hats on the job: guiding website redesign, helping companies update their marketing strategies, planning events and community outreach. She also meets with entrepreneurs new to Pittsburgh to make them aware of local resources and to connect with the region’s many live, work and play options.
Outside of work, Jenn serves on the board of Invest in Her, an organization that supports women-led businesses through fundraising and a women-only pitch competition. She also serves on the Pittsburgh board of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals For America), which helps to expand participation and leadership in the corporate workplace of Latinos and other traditionally under-represented people.
Moving from New York City, Jenn found that Pittsburgh’s size and welcoming attitude allowed her to quickly engage in civic and community opportunities as a young professional. Jenn has also been a guest speaker and panelist at local and national conferences, including the Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco, and the TechUp Summit in Washington, D.C. where she presented on ways that startups can develop a more inclusive culture for everyone.
Jenn has lived in various parts of Pittsburgh, settling most recently in the North Side, walking distance to her workplace in Nova Center and to many of her favorite city spots. She loves the combination of the historic Mexican War Street homes and the new cafes and restaurants popping up, like the Common Place coffee shop which she frequents on the weekends and Casalula – a new restaurant, bookstore and event space all in one. She enjoys spending time in the Allegheny Commons Park with her partner and their dog, Tulip, as well as exploring new neighborhoods and finding activities throughout the city that always seem to be in abundance.