Women's Entrepreneurship Summit



More than 500 women entrepreneurs convene at USC to discuss the state of their startups


ATHENA Pitch Competition

A Female Founder's Pitch Competition aimed at increasing the number of Women (Co)Founded Companies at USC




This year, we hosted the 4th Annual ATHENA Women's Entrepreneurship Summit: Bigger & Bolder on Friday, December 4, 2020. 

Our line-up included:

  • Mellody Hobson, Ariel Investments
  • Diamante Harper, Saweetie
  • Zuleyka Strasner, Zero Grocery
  • Gail Becker, CAULIPOWER
  • Cindy Eckert, The Pink Ceiling
  • Alyson DeNardo, MaC Venture Capital
  • ATHENA Pitch Competition Awards
  • Musical Performance by Brynn Elliott

Stay tuned for video highlights and recordings to be available soon. 

We also announced the ATHENA Final Pitch Competition Winners!

1st Place | $10,000: Gracie Lane, The Middle (Sponsored by The  Diem Shotwell Metcalfe Family Fund)

1st place

2nd Place | $5,000: Anya Nutakki & Autumn Gupta, Key Learning

2nd Place

3rd Place | $2,500: Ciara May, Rebundle

3rd Place

People's Choice Award |  $1,000: Gracie Lane, The Middle



Every Fall, the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, along the USC Marshall Master of Science in Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism bring together Athena.

Athena is a program comprised of a pitch competition and a summit. The goal of Athena is to:

  • Increase Women Founders. We want to increase the Number of Women (Co)Founded Companies at USC and provide them with the environment, mentors and resources they need to launch successful businesses.

  • Increase Women Investors. We are aiming to increase the number of women investors at USC so there will be more women in the investment ecosystem who are more likely to invest in women-(co) founded companies. Currently, only 4% of VCs are women. About 4% of women-(co) founded companies receive VC dollars.

  • Provide Access to Funding Capital and Mentors. We provide our women entrepreneurs and investors with carefully selected mentors to help them develop their skills and networks. We also provide access to funding sources and prepare them to seek funding.



The Athena Summit is a day-long conference that celebrates women business leaders and their entrepreneurial journeys. The Athena Summit will amplify their stories as well as their challenges, and create a vigorous and intentional arena for relationship-building and future collaboration.

The 2019 Athena Summit brought together more than 500 guests from a variety of industries and backgrounds. The daylong event featured a welcome from Dr. Carol Folt, USC President; a conversation with Dermalogica founder and CEO Jane Wurwand; as well as panel discussions. Panel topics included “Building Founder Success: From Seed to Growth,” “Taking Charge: Investors Leveling the Field”, “It's all in our hands: becoming FOUND”, "Empowering Artists as Entrepreneurs", and "Messaging your Mission: When What We Value is Hard to Sell". 







Associate Director, Jeymi Choi