Founder of The Garage Melissa Kaufman announces departure from Northwestern


Daily file photo by Seeger Gray

Melissa Kaufman, founder and executive director of The Garage, will leave Northwestern in May.

Isabel Funk, Campus Editor

Melissa Kaufman, Northwestern’s executive director of The Garage, will step down from her role in May.

Since Kaufman founded The Garage more than six years ago, it has served more than 3,000 students each year and supported more than 1,000 startups.

“When I first got here, I asked, ‘What would happen if we brought the culture of Silicon Valley to Northwestern and empowered our students with an entrepreneurial mindset and skill set?’ And the answer is magic,” Kaufman said in a University news release.

The Garage offers programs that help student entrepreneurs incubate and develop a business, offering mentorship and financial support. Its Propel, Activate and Opportunity Fund provide support to women, Black students and low-income students.

Before coming to NU in 2015, Kaufman founded her own company and worked with tech companies like Google and YouTube in Silicon Valley.

The Garage has helped startups like bekome — which helps pair users with therapists — and KOYLD, which seeks to help Black women love their hair.

“Her empathy, creativity, inclusiveness, entrepreneurial thinking and problem-solving have been critical to the success The Garage has become,” said Alicia Löffler, associate provost and executive director of Northwestern’s Innovation and New Ventures Office.

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Twitter: @isabeldfunk

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