Building an Inclusive Economy and Workforce Through Disability Investment
Regina "Gina" Kline
Founder and Managing Partner
Regina “Gina” Kline is an investor, entrepreneur, civil rights lawyer, and thought leader dedicated to building the future of work by advancing the rights and interests of people with disabilities as innovators, workers, business owners, and consumers. As Founder and Managing Partner of Enable Ventures and Founder of SmartJob, Gina is singularly focused as a leader on closing the disability wealth gap through impact investment. Gina has worked to challenge and end some of the most exploitative practices in the country affecting workers with disabilities, and has built meaningful, long-term relationships throughout the disability community. For nearly 15 years as a civil rights attorney, Gina led efforts to dramatically improve working conditions and the employment of people with disabilities. As a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Gina successfully fought for workers with disabilities in segregated workplaces, where they were often paid pennies per hour, helping secure court orders to support and move over 11,000 workers to competitive integrated employment. Gina filed and resolved the nation’s first cases under the ADA to challenge these segregated and often exploitative work settings. These landmark cases set a new standard in American law impacting millions of students and adults with disabilities. Gina received awards from Attorney General Eric Holder and Attorney General Loretta Lynch for her work. During the Obama administration, Gina also served as Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she provided legal and policy counsel regarding efforts to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court’s landmark Olmstead v. L.C. decision. She then represented students and workers with disabilities in civil rights matters across the country as a Partner at the law firm of Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP. While at the firm, she was the Co-Leader of a national disability consulting practice that she co-founded. Gina received her J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law where she graduated cum laude and her B.A. from Columbia University. Gina is the author of multiple government reports and evaluations of the U.S. disability employment system, has provided public testimony in front of federal and state government entities and commissions, and has advised public and private leaders and organizations on disability employment.
Margaret Knowles has deep operational and financial experience from her background in Social Enterprise startups, with a focus on workforce development, income inequality, and emerging markets. As Head of Operations at MINNA, a social enterprise that works with artisan groups in Latin America to produce ethically made home textiles, she worked to develop and implement operational and financial procedures from the ground up. She brings with her experience and enthusiasm for building and growing early-stage companies. She also has experience in building deal pipelines and performing due diligence on impact-focused enterprises, as well as monitoring and measuring impact. Margaret received her MBA with honors at Columbia Business School, with a specific focus on Impact Investing, Early-Stage Investment, and Social Entrepreneurship. Margaret works in tandem with Enable Ventures and the Sorenson Platform to source and diligence deals, provide operational support to Enable Ventures portfolio companies, and track and measure impact outcomes.
Founder and Executive Chairman of Sorenson Impact Group
A world-renowned entrepreneur, business leader, and societal innovator, Jim was raised in a family of entrepreneurs. He grew up with a belief in the power of business to help solve problems in sustainable, scalable ways to improve the lives of the poor and the emerging middle class around the world. Jim took the lessons he learned in his childhood and and applied them to his career where he learned early on to proactively pursue investments in new markets where he was able to see business opportunities in previously non-commercial fields—a skill that he would later put to work in his impact investing career. In 2002, after a decade of development and tens of millions of dollars in investment, the company he had built — Sorenson Media — was primed for commercial success just as the dot com bubble burst and halted the markets. Jim found himself leading a company that had a monthly burn rate of $1 million and whose market demand had all but evaporated. Jim went back to the drawing board and in collaboration with a hearing-impaired family member realized that they could transition the company’s products to enhance communication for the deaf and hard of hearing. Sorenson Media was well positioned to offer a better service than major telecommunications companies resulting in the successful turnaround of the company (later spun off as Sorenson Communications) while also improving the quality of life for millions of deaf people. That company went on to be the largest private equity transaction in the state of Utah. On top of that, the company was estimated to have increased employment opportunities for the hearing impaired population by approximately four times. Jim was inspired by this company’s ability to not only make a very positive impact on an often underserved population but also operate with an effective business model and profit that ensured ongoing sustainability. He was intrigued with the idea of finding market solutions to meet the needs of underserved communities and since then he has established the Sorenson Impact Foundation, which invests in scalable, innovative social entrepreneurs, as well as the Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah, which is a “think and do tank” focused on social impact and policy. Today, Jim spends most of his time and energy in the impact investing field through three key elements: 1. investing in early-stage enterprises that lack access to commercial capital and are developing products or services that improve livelihoods for people in poor or marginalized markets; 2. investing in creative financial structures that unlock greater flows of capital to scalable innovations and; 3. building a vibrant impact investing ecosystem. Impact investments are only part of Jim's impact investing work; recognizing that building a robust impact investment market requires a healthy supporting ecosystem. Impact investors, just like conventional investors, depend on the work of researchers, advisors, wealth managers, entrepreneurs, industry experts, and others in order to make well-informed, successful investments.
Enable Ventures is led by Regina “Gina” Kline and supported by SmartJob. Gina founded SmartJob, a disability impact platform at the end of 2020, assembling a 14-person advisory board that brings together skills and lived experience from disability policy, disability advocacy, investing, technology and the impact economy.