Trailblazing Alum, Venture Capitalist, and Philanthropist Sonja Hoel Perkins to Be Honored at Emily Couric Event

A role model to emerging leaders, Perkins has been investing “in people and companies that matter” for over 30 years.

Celebrating an exceptional leader both in her profession and her community, the Emily Couric Leadership Forum will honor Commerce alum Sonja Hoel Perkins (McIntire ’88) with the Women’s Leadership Award at its annual event this spring in Charlottesville. During the Emily Couric Leadership event April 11, the forum will also salute 11 area high school women for their leadership excellence with college scholarships.

“Emily Couric showed us what it means to live a life of purpose by using her power to inspire and serve others,” Perkins said. “It’s a great honor to be recognized by her legacy and to celebrate the high-potential young women who have been nominated for the scholarship.”

Perkins has been investing “in people and companies that matter” for over 30 years. Considered one of the best performing and most senior technology-focused venture capitalists, she has invested in startups that have achieved multibillion-dollar valuations. Inspired to create successful venture capital strategies that support women entrepreneurs and benefit women and girls, Perkins founded Broadway Angels, a network of top venture capitalists and executives who all happen to be women.

Many of the philanthropic initiatives Perkins underwrites seek to empower women. Perkins is the Founder of Project Glimmer, a national nonprofit organization that inspires every girl to envision and realize her empowered future. The Sonja Hoel Perkins Scholarship was established at the University of Virginia in 2005 to support Black women who would not otherwise attend college.

Perkins grew up in Charlottesville, attending Albemarle High School and UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce. Her father, Lester Hoel, was the Chairman of the Civil Engineering Department, and her mother worked for Health Services. After Harvard Business School, she found her way to Silicon Valley. Perkins was the only woman venture capitalist at Menlo Ventures. She funded game-changing companies, from McAfee, Hotmail, F5 Networks, and Acme Packet to Uber, The RealReal, and many more. At the age of 29, she became the youngest General Partner in the firm’s history. Fifty percent of her founders are women.

After two decades at Menlo Ventures, Perkins established The Perkins Fund, concentrating on investing in high-tech companies, and became part of the C200, Women Moving Millions, and the Maverick Collective. She is one of four women profiled in Julian Guthrie’s book Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime. 

“The Emily Couric Leadership Forum is passionate about educating high-potential young women,” Forum Chair Meredith Gunter said. “Our goal is to inspire emerging leaders by connecting them to role models like Sonja Perkins. Her professional achievements and dedication to improving opportunity for young women exemplify the leadership that the forum celebrates.”

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