Founder and General Partner
Dubbed a “Top Five Gamechanger” by Forbes and a “Power Investor” by Essence, Kesha Cash founded Impact America Fund (IAF) to harness market opportunities overlooked by traditional investors. In 2016, Stanford Graduate School of Business published a case study on IAF to teach students about the structure of an impact venture fund, and how to analyze the social and economic impact of high-growth technology investments.
Kesha’s personal mission is to transform the economic livelihoods of marginalized communities in America. A Columbia MBA and applied mathematics student from UC Berkeley, Kesha spent the first decade of her career as a mergers and acquisitions analyst at Merrill Lynch in NYC, an operational consultant to inner-city small businesses in Los Angeles, and an impact investments associate at Bridges Ventures in the UK. In 2010, Kesha co-founded a$5M initiative focused on investing in mission-driven entrepreneurs of color, Jalia Ventures, with serial impact investor, Josh Mailman. She also supported Josh with managing Serious Change, LP. Kesha took her vision to the next level by founding IAF.
Kesha grew up in economic hardship and is her family’s first college graduate. Her lived experience and abiding belief in human potential inspire her life’s work. Kesha tells Forbes her vision for the future: “We identify as one human race and deeply consider the impact of our actions on other human beings, the environment and future generations.”
Kesha shares her thought leadership and passion for investing in underserved communities as a national speaker, contributing writer for Women@Forbes, and lecturer for Frontier Market Scouts at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
Stefanie A. Thomas
Senior Associate, Investments
Stefanie joined the Impact America (IAF) team in 2015 with notable impact-investing experience that includes fundraising and advisory board management, as well as founder technical support and new investment sourcing. As a member of IAF, Stefanie has emerged as a voice of “Black Women VCs” (Fast Company) who work at the intersection of founder diversity, technology for impact, and the deployment of capital within untapped markets.
Since 2013, Stefanie’s work has primarily centered around her passion to support under-resourced entrepreneurs, an ode to childhood memories of her father—a serial entrepreneur—who overcame tremendous challenges as an aspiring business owner, despite very limited secondary education and low-income beginnings. Some of the inspired work that has resulted from Stefanie’s deep-rooted influences includes co-founding a female-centered entrepreneurship organization called Women Who Launch and traveling over 6,000 miles by car across the US to work with small businesses, landing her a feature on HLN’s “Growing America” docu-series.
Before shifting gears professionally, Stefanie served as a Vice President at Citigroup, managing more than 50 institutional investor relationships and leading finance transactions totaling over $1B in assets. Stefanie received her MBA from the Ross School at the University of Michigan and her B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She currently resides in Washington, DC.
Kaiton Williams is an engineer and ethnographer, combining experience building internet-based applications & services with qualitative analysis of the cultural and technical issues that surround them. As an engineer, his background is in the design, management, and optimization of large scale distributed systems, and the rapid prototyping and development of user facing applications. As a Human Computer Interaction researcher, he focuses critical attention on the evolving relationships between technology and subjectivity, and on the issues of technology development from, and for, developing economies.
His current research centers on the experiences of tech entrepreneurs in the English-speaking Caribbean as they build products for a global market. He has worked as a technical consultant with the World Bank’s entrepreneurial support programs in the Caribbean, and as a consulting engineer with Jamaica’s national tech accelerator, helping accepted teams develop and scale their products. Previously, he worked at Microsoft for over a decade, holding senior roles Systems Engineering across its online services.
Kaiton earned his B.Sc in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Morgan State University and an M.Sc and Ph.D in Information Science from Cornell University.
Melissa has been working with Kesha since 2009, when she helped launch the Jalia Ventures website and, inspired by the mission of Kesha’s work, decided to stay on.
A writer, editor, and content producer, Melissa has always been interested in the connection between culture, community, and social justice. She started her writing career in high school as the youth columnist for San Diego’s labor and progressive politics monthly, The San Diego Review and, at 18, opted out of college to co-found Axcess Magazine, a music, art, and pop culture publication that was subsequently purchased by “cyberculture” celebrity, Mondo 2000 founder, and Wired magazine columnist, Ken Goffman (aka R.U. Sirius).
As a freelancer, she worked for a diverse collection of companies from small, independently-owned businesses and non-profits to Time-Life Music and Microsoft, where she began a love affair with digital communications as editor of MSN Shopping’s seven weekly e-newsletters. In 2015, her work for political consultancy, Cerillion N4 Partners, won five Pollie Awards from the American Association of Political Consultants.
At Impact America Fund, Melissa is excited to focus on storytelling that explores how the worlds of technology and finance can translate to better outcomes for the lives of everyday citizens, as well as surfacing the diversity of ideas arising from those on the frontlines of this work. She is currently in the midst of pursuing a double degree in Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies and Urban Studies from the University of Washington in order to better understand the mechanisms that can improve the economic prosperity of communities while avoiding the negative impacts of gentrification.