Joan Siefert Rose, who has reshaped the Council for Entrepreneurial Development since becoming its president and CEO eight years ago, has decided to step down at the end of the year.
“I just really thought this would be a good time to make a transition because things are in good shape,” Rose said. “There is really no better time to go than when there is no drama.”
Rose, 59, said that she doesn’t have any firm plans for the next chapter in her life and will remaining at the helm of CED until the end of the year “to assure a smooth transition of leadership. I care about the organization and all its members.”
CED, a nonprofit that functions as a support group for entrepreneurs, bills itself as the nation’s largest and longest-running entrepreneurial network. Its annual Life Science and Tech Venture conferences have been attracting 1,000 attendees.
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Joe Colopy, who recently completed his second two-year stint on CED’s board of directors, applauded Rose’s work for the organization.
“She’s really done a great job ... making that organization financially sustainable,which isn’t easy for a nonprofit, and making it very entrepreneur-focused,” he said. Colopy, the co-founder and former CEO of Bronto Software, which was sold for $200 million last year, said that before Rose took over the organization it was focused more on “lawyers and investors” than entrepreneurs.
Colopy also credited Rose for realizing that the Triangle has plenty of resources for early-stage startups – he cited startup spaces such as the American Underground and HQ Raleigh and accelerators such as The Startup Factory – and giving more attention to growth-stage companies, including companies such as Bronto.
“She’s been very tenacious about implementing a focus and having a vision,” said Dennis Dougherty, the founder and managing partner of Durham venture capital firm Intersouth Partners and one of the inaugural inductees in CED’s new hall of fame. “I think CED has matured well under her. Its national recognition has improved.”
During Rose’s tenure the organization became a go-to destination for entrepreneurial data by regularly issuing “Innovators Reports” that provide statistics on startup funding, investors and initial public offerings and acquisitions.
“When you talk about entrepreneurship, you need some good stories but you also need some data,” Rose said.
In 2014 CED launched “Connections to Capital,” a program aimed at connecting entrepreneurs and investors. That program is credited with helping companies raise more than $55 million in funding.
In addition, CED reports that fundraising to support its own programs have expanded from $1.3 million annually to $2 million a year since Joan took over the organization, largely due to increased corporate support and donations.
Rose notified the organization’s board of directors of her decision to step down Tuesday evening.
“This decision was voluntary but a difficult one,” she wrote in a letter that was sent to the board and the organization’s members. “Now, I believe it’s time for new leadership to guide CED in its mission of propelling entrepreneurs to their full potential.”
CED plans to hire a recruiting firm to conduct a national search for Rose’s successor.
Rose – who was general manager of N.C. Public Radio, WUNC-FM, for seven years before joining CED – said she hasn’t really given much thought to what lies ahead but retirement isn’t in the cards. She can see herself doing something entrepreneurial or perhaps running another organization.
Either way, she expects to remain in the Triangle.
“Between the radio station and CED, I really feel close ties to the community,” she said. “I would very much like to continue to be of service in making this an even better place to live.”