Leigh-Ann Buchanan is the founding Executive Director of Venture Café Miami. In this role, she works to facilitate sustainable growth, increased diversity and inclusion, and greater connectivity within Miami’s innovation and startup community.
She previously served as legal counsel to entrepreneurs, startups and multinational corporations in a wide variety of complex business litigation matters and commercial disputes.
Leigh-Ann currently chairs the ABA’s Coalition on Racial & Ethnic Justice and previously, the ABA National Taskforce on Stand Your Ground Laws. She also sits on the executive boards of New Leaders Council Miami and Friends of the New World Symphony.
Leigh-Ann is the founder of the Nyah Project, an exclusive fellowship which develops diverse youth leaders from underserved communities through transformative experiences abroad. She is among a collective of professional women who established Get Linked Miami, a youth hackathon and workshop series that engages diverse youth in STEM career education and coding training.
She holds a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law and a B.A summa cum laude in International Affairs from Bethune-Cookman University.
Leigh-Ann has been recognized as a one of South Florida’s 40 Under 40 Black Leaders (2013); National Bar Association Women Lawyers Division Rising Star Award (2013); Greater Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, HYPE Award finalist (2014); Daily Business Review, Rising Star (2015); American Bar Association Top 40 Young Lawyers (2016); Aspen Institute’s National Working Group on Inclusive Innovation (2016); Miami- Dade Chamber of Commerce David Fincher Young Innovator of the Year (2016).
To me, Miami — the Magic City– embodies a place of opportunity. Not only is it rich with cultural diversity, but the existing institutional landscape is open towards newcomers and receptive to those with an entrepreneurial endeavours. I chose to invest my energy and other resources in helping shape Miami’s growing startup and innovation community because we have all the right ingredients to be a true hub for innovation within the region. We are entrepreneurial at heart; Miami has consistently ranked in the top 10 of the Kauffman Foundation’s Entrepreneurial Activity Index, recently catapulting to a ranking as high as No. 2. We have large concentrations of capital; it’s just not deployed in the startup community. We have the talent– with over 250,000 college/university students, there’s ample opportunity to leverage academic institutions to facilitate a steady churn of invention and innovation. Miami’s future is bright, but there is ample room for improvement– from breaking down silos within the startup and broader business community to advancing economic equity and improving urban mobility. The opportunities are endless.
At Venture Cafe Miami, our focus is to strengthen Miami’s startup and innovation community by working collaboratively with other stakeholders to make it more diverse, inclusive, accessible and better connected.
We help innovators by enhancing and accelerating the growth of innovation in Miami through high-impact programming and events and by creating intentional spaces for entrepreneurial individuals and organizations to gather, connect, and build relationships.
Through our partnership with CIC Miami, we’re helping to elevate physical spaces for innovation that thrive because they are inclusive and accessible to the broadest cross section of the community. We’re focused on breaking down silos through place-making, conversation, storytelling.
Each week, we connect hundreds of Miami’s amazing innovation and startup community through the Thursday Gathering @ Venture Café, the largest weekly gathering for innovators and entrepreneurs find one another and collaborate to bring their dreams to reality.