We’re proud to announce that Ellen Carnahan, Principal of Machrie Enterprises LLC and former Chair of The Metropolitan Planning Council, Communities in Schools of Chicago, Illinois Venture Capital and Private Equity Association,  and The Chicago Network, will be this year’s Chicagoness Award recipient at The 14th annual Momentum Awards!

The Chicagoness Award is presented each year to an individual who exemplifies the values of the Chicago entrepreneurial community through a commitment to collective opportunity, civic leadership, mentorship, and hard work. As a long-time community advocate who started in the venture capital business in 1987 to invest in Chicago tech companies, Ellen is a pioneer in the movement to make the city a leader in the tech world and the perfect person for this honor.

A highly successful investor with over twenty years of venture capital experience as co-manager and lead technology investor at William Blair Capital Partners (WBCP), Ellen Carnahan currently serves as Principal of Machrie Enterprises LLC, which provides angel capital, expertise, and extensive connections to  growth businesses, venture capital, and growth equity funds. Prior to joining WBCP in 1988, she was Vice President of Marketing & Planning at SPSS, a then $30-million software company, and Manager of Financial Planning & Analysis at Trailer Train Company, the largest operator of railroad flatcars. 

Ellen is also active in the Chicago community and served on various non-profit boards such as the State of Illinois Innovation & Growth Fund, including as former Chair for The Metropolitan Planning Council, Communities in Schools Chicago, and the Illinois Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, and The Chicago Network. She is a CPA, graduated as salutatorian from the University of Notre Dame, and received an MBA from the Booth School at the University of Chicago.

“Ellen Carnahan’s history of supporting the Tech Ecosystem is legendary,” said 1871 board member and  Illinois Venture Capital Association Executive Director Maura O’Hara. “There are few VCs in town who have not worked with, been trained by, or served on a board with Ellen. The successes of her investments reflect skill, experience, and finesse. Ellen’s commitment to providing opportunities to women is legendary. The not-for-profits Ellen serves are always changed for the better. The way Ellen Carnahan moves through the world is the definition of Chicagoness: helpful, direct, no-nonsense, smart and accessible.”  

“Chicago’s tech community and the work we do at 1871 have benefited immensely from the ground Ellen broke in her over 30 year career,” said 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler. “She was actively and selflessly supporting, building, and advocating for Chicago to become a vibrant tech community before anyone else, while also never seeking the accolades for the impact she was making. Ellen is the epitome of what the Chicagoness Award stands for, and we’re honored to recognize her as the accomplished investor and dedicated civic leader that she is at this year’s Momentum Awards.”

Ellen will accept her award at The 1871 Momentum Awards on September 23, 2021, where we will also honor our members that are disrupting their industries, building up their communities, and shaping the future. Stay tuned for more information on our award finalists and be sure to reserve your ticket to join us in celebration  in-person or virtually!

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