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Co-Founder Ayana Parsons Steps Down as COO of Fearless Fund Amid Legal Battle

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Co-Founder Ayana Parsons Steps Down as COO of Fearless Fund Amid Legal Battle

Atlanta-based venture capital firm Fearless Fund has seen a major shift as co-founder Ayana Parsons stepped down from her role as Chief Operating Officer in April. 

This change occurs in a legal dispute with the conservative group American Alliance for Equal Rights, which accuses the fund of racial discrimination in its grant programs.

Parsons, along with Arian Simone and Keisha Knight Pulliam, founded Fearless Fund in 2019 to support Black women entrepreneurs. Since its inception, the fund has raised over $26.5 million to help launch and grow businesses.

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Parsons clarified her current status, stating, “I have stepped back from the operations of the fund… But what I can tell you… is I’m a problem solver. I’m a changemaker.” 

Ayana Parsons’ Clarification on Her Departure

She emphasized that her departure was unrelated to the lawsuit filed by the American Alliance for Equal Rights in August 2023. The lawsuit challenges Fearless Fund’s Fearless Strivers Grant Contest, which awards $20,000 in grants and digital tools to Black women small business owners. 

The conservative group claims this constitutes illegal racial discrimination. Despite the legal controversy, Fearless Fund remains committed to its mission. 

In a 2023 statement, the organization affirmed: “Built by women of color for women of color, we are proud of the work we have done at the Fearless Fund and Fearless Foundation with the consistent and invaluable support from our corporate partners, investors, mentors, and advisors.”

Parsons, who also co-founded and recently sold Yardstick Management, a consulting firm, plans to use her three decades of corporate experience to mentor the next generation of Black executives. 

She remains dedicated to “pushing back against efforts to dismantle diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in corporate America.”

While Parsons is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of Fearless Fund, she continues to serve as a co-founder and investor in the firm.

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