Kathryn Finney is the managing partner of Genius Guild, a $20 million dollar venture fund and studio that invests in amazing Black founders. Selected as one of the most influential women in tech by Inc Magazine, her groundbreaking work has laid the foundation for generations of Black entrepreneurs and investors.

She recently took some time to discuss her love of New Haven pizza, furnishing a New Haven apartment on a budget, and how the Yale community has impacted her life. 

Why Yale?
I chose Yale because of the faculty, who are dedicated not just to the teaching the principles of public health, but of leadership as well. Also, the school was smaller than my other choices (Harvard and Johns Hopkins), and when I visited campus, I felt a real sense of community.

What is the most enduring memory of your time at Yale?
I have so many awesome memories from my intro to biostats class with Dr. Elizabeth Claus to the many years of mentorship I received from Dr. Gregory Tignor. I also remember spending many nights at GYPSY with my School of Medicine classmates.

If you could relive your time at Yale, what would you do differently?
I wouldn't change a thing – except eat more pizza!

What would you do exactly the same? 
I would definitely still have my apartment on York Street and continue to focus on the lifelong friendships I developed while there.

What is your favorite place in New Haven, past or present? 
This might sound a bit weird, but my favorite place was the Salvation Army on George Street. As a very budget conscious grad student, the store helped me to furnish my first apartment on a very small budget.

What is your favorite spot on campus?
Beinecke Library of course! As a bibliophile, I love how you walk into the library and are instantly hit with the smell of books – paper, ink, and dust. It's my favorite smell.

What's your favorite pizza place in New Haven?
Frank Pepe!

Who is another Yalie who inspires you? Why?
So many Yalies inspire me ... from Angela Basset, who brings a sense of humanity and dignity to every role she portrays, to Hillary Clinton, who continues to show grace and intelligence in the face of very difficult circumstances.

What have you gained from your alumni engagement with Yale?
It's been great to interact with current students during my annual lecture at Professor Teresa Chahine's Social Entrepreneurship course. I've also really enjoyed supporting the bridge between Yale and the greater New Haven community that organizations like Collab are building.

How did your time at Yale shape the person you are today?
My time at Yale gave me the courage to think big. As a Black woman leader in a space (venture capital) where there's not many people like me, it can be hard to have the courage to forge new ground. Yale gave me the confidence to do this, along with the academic footing to back it up.

What is your hope for the future of the Yale alumni community?
That it continues to work toward more inclusion and find more ways to empower the communities that surround the university. My hope is that more Yalies see that Yale's continued success is tied to the success of the community in which it's located.

What advice would you give to current students? 
Find your passion, the thing that gets you up in the morning. And for those who are entrepreneurs ... BUILD THE DAMN THING!

How would you answer? Share your responses with the YAA and they might be featured in an upcoming edition of "Getting to Know You." 

And be sure to check out all the Q&As in the series by visiting our Getting to Know You page.

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