Chief Executive Officer
Location: Alpharetta, Georgia
Industry: Technology Non Profit
In 2017, Karen Cashion had been practicing law for 20 years and was involved as a commissioner on several of the City of Alpharetta’s Commissions. She had launched non-profit tech events while practicing law during the day and also raising two children.
“I had never envisioned that possibility of a new career, since law was my vocation; however, while growing my nonprofit, I discovered that entrepreneurship and serving my community were my true passions,” said Cashion. “I found that I love the process of building a new business, recruiting a board, crafting a vision and working to effectuate that vision.”
As a result, Cashion accepted the CEO position with Tech Alpharetta, formerly known as the Alpharetta Technology Commission.
Tech Alpharetta is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help grow technology and innovation in the city of Alpharetta. Tech Alpharetta runs a tech startup incubator that helps grow new tech startups and new jobs for the city and state. The organization fosters tech development through leadership programs for area tech execs and tech professionals and provides STEM mentoring to students.
According to Cashion, it was a major decision and significant financial risk to pivot to take on the full-time role of running a little-known nonprofit. “But, it was an exciting challenge and I hoped and believed that my legal experience, as well as my experience starting my own nonprofit, would serve me well,” she said.
Cashion began by rebuilding from the ground up and creating and implementing operational processes while initiating a sponsorship program. She hired a CPA firm, recruited new board members and launched a mentoring program and an educational program series. “I wore every hat, I was constantly swamped, and I loved every minute of it because I was learning on my feet,” said Cashion.
As a result, Tech Alpharetta now has relationships with more than 70 angel, seed and venture capital firms, has a database of tech executives that has grown from 300 to 5,000 and serves 2,000 area tech executives per year with its programs. Tech Alpharetta’s startups have raised more than $150 million in investor funding and is an important component of the City of Alpharetta’s tech economic development strategy.
Cashion describes herself as a humble leader. “During the course of my career, I’ve learned through example, time and time again, that the best leaders are humble men and women of integrity,” she said. “Empathy and humility are essential to good leadership.”
Karen broke her nose while attempting to windsurf in Thailand. She hasn't attempted windsurfing since.