As a professor of entrepreneurship, Linda Darragh knows what it takes to get a business off the ground, and she has spent two decades helping Chicago startups take flight.
She is executive director of the Kellogg School of Management’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative and co-founder of Impact Engine, an accelerator program for for-profit ventures focused on social change.
“Everyone asks why we’re not Silicon Valley,” said Darragh. “When you look at the economic history of Chicago and compare it to Silicon Valley, the incremental innovations in those two places are completely different.”
According to Darragh, the city’s broad mix of industries and rich diversity makes it fertile ground for innovation.
During her tenure as vice president of the Women’s Business Development Center, she worked with foundations, banks and government leaders to create innovative lending programs. Prior to Kellogg, she was director of Entrepreneurship Programs at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
She has been a long-time board member of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and ACCION Chicago, a microfinance lender. She is also a member of the Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise and a board member for TiE Midwest, a networking and mentoring organization for global entrepreneurship.
She has a master’s degree from the University of Toronto and a bachelor’s from Queen’s University.
Darragh lives in Evanston with her husband Alex. They have three adult children.