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Connect, Longtime Local Accelerator, Names Silvia Mah as President

Xconomy San Diego — 

Connect, a 34-year-old nonprofit which runs the well-known Springboard Accelerator Program for startups, announced Monday that it had tapped Silvia Mah, a San Diego investor and entrepreneur, as its new president.

She succeeds Greg McKee, who served as president and CEO of the San Diego-based organization for five years before stepping down last month to start a venture capital fund.

Mah is executive director of Hera Labs, an accelerator program for women-owned businesses. She’s also a partner in Ad Astra Ventures, an accelerator and venture fund for women-led startups she started in 2018 with Allison Long Pettine and Vidya Dinamani. Mah has helped more than 500 women launch or scale a startup and has assisted founders in raising more than $5 million, according to Connect.

She will continue as a partner at Ad Astra, which recently took applications for its spring cohort, slated to take place in April in Solana Beach, CA. Mah will move to a business advisory role at Hera Labs, which is searching for a new executive director.

Mah will begin working part-time at Connect immediately, and take on the full-time role April 1. She will oversee Springboard as well as Connect’s business development and finances. She will also oversee Connect’s newest endeavor, called Connect All, an accelerator especially for diverse or financially disadvantaged founders in San Diego. Funded primarily by the city of San Diego, that accelerator is slated to launch at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation this spring.

Tim Scott, Connect’s board chairman, had temporarily taken on additional responsibilities at the organization in the wake of McKee’s departure. McKee left Connect to co-found Torrent Ventures, which plans to invest in early-stage life sciences and digital health companies in San Diego. Local entrepreneurs have long bemoaned the dearth of venture funds in the San Diego region.

No one currently holds the title of CEO at Connect. Connect said it will continue to search to fill other executive leadership positions to complement Mah’s role.