Investing 101:

How Investing In Female Founders Can Change The World

Featuring Leslee Cohen, Desiree Vargas-Wrigley, Gale Wilkinson & Ellen Wilcox


This panel is moderated by Leslee Cohen, managing partner of AllRise Legal Counsel, which focuses its practice on representing startups in connection with their early fundraising rounds. AllRise is particularly active in helping female founded businesses.

Leslee is joined by the amazing Desiree Vargas-Wrigley and Gale Wilkinson, both of whom run angel investing groups active in angel investing in female founders, as well as Ellen Wilcox, who has conducted in-depth research on midlife women and the brands they seek out on behalf of her venture capital firm.

Their discussion dives into the basics of angel investing, how investing in women led startup and early stage businesses can be so life-changing to both the investors and the companies themselves, and how we can all help to improve the dismal statistics facing female founded businesses that are seeking to raise funds.

Please join us for this fascinating conversation that may add an incredible new dimension to your Pro-Age Womanhood!


Leslee Cohen

Founder and Managing Partner of AllRise Legal Counsel

Leslee Cohen is the founder and Managing Partner of AllRise Legal Counsel, a law firm specializing in securities and startup law, corporate finance, technology law, mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate law. With a diverse client base spanning industries such as consumer products, technology, healthcare, and real estate, AllRise has established a reputation for providing top-notch legal services. Leslee's legal career began in 1992 at a Wall Street firm. After gaining valuable experience for 13 years at a large Chicago-based firm, she decided to establish AllRise in 2010.

Leslee's motivation behind starting her own firm was to focus on working with earlier stage and smaller businesses. She has assembled a team of highly skilled and experienced attorneys who are dedicated to providing exceptional legal counsel.

Recognized for her outstanding legal expertise, Leslee has received numerous accolades throughout her career. She has been consistently named a Top 100 Lawyer in the State of Illinois and a Top 50 Women Lawyer in the State of Illinois by Illinois Super Lawyers. Additionally, she has been recognized as a Leading Lawyer in mergers and acquisitions, securities, and venture finance. Leslee has also been honored as the Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Advocacy Council, an Enterprising Woman of the Year by Enterprising Women Magazine, and an Entreprenista Top 100.

Outside of her legal practice, Leslee actively participates in various organizations and initiatives. She serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Small Business Advocacy Council and co-chairs the Advisory Committee of the Coalition of Women's Initiatives in Law, which she co-founded. Leslee is also involved with several mentorship programs and organizations, including the Good Food Accelerator, the Hatchery, LegalPad, the Wisconsin Technology Council/the Founders Institute, and Workbox. She is committed to supporting entrepreneurship and empowering young women interested in technology careers through her involvement with the Chicago Job Creators Grant organization and GirlCon.

Leslee obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan and her Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law. Her educational background, combined with her extensive experience and dedication to her clients, make her a highly respected and sought-after legal professional in her field.

Visit Leslee at

Free Legal Consultation

One-half hour of free legal services in connection with your business' corporate law needs.

Desiree Vargas-Wrigley

Chief Innovation Officer of P33 and Co-Founder of The Josephine Collective

Desiree Vargas Wrigley is a highly accomplished Latina serial entrepreneur. She holds the position of Chief Innovation Officer at P33 and serves as the Executive Director of TechRise by P33. Additionally, she is a founding partner of The Josephine Collective, an angel group dedicated to empowering women and people of color to become investors.

In her role as Executive Director of TechRise, Desiree has played a pivotal role in supporting over 300 BIPOC and Women Founders. Through her efforts, these founders have collectively raised over $90 million in follow-on funding. Desiree also led the successful pursuit of a multimillion-dollar federal grant from the MBDA.

Before her current positions, Desiree founded Pearachute, a renowned children's activity marketplace. Prior to that, she co-founded GiveForward, a leading crowdfunding platform that provided support to individuals facing major life events. Notably, GiveForward received funding from prestigious firms such as First Round Capital, Founder Collective, and Techstars. Under Desiree's leadership, the platform facilitated nearly $200 million in donations from friends and family.

Desiree's expertise in entrepreneurship was honed during her tenure at the Kauman Foundation and Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors. She also shared her knowledge as a teacher of New Venture Discovery at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. Desiree's remarkable achievements have garnered widespread recognition. She has been named in Inc's 30 Under 30 and Crain's 40 Under 40 lists. Parents Magazine recognized her as one of the Most Inspiring Moms, while Forbes included her in their Women to Watch list. Desiree showcased her entrepreneurial skills on Shark Tank, where she successfully closed one of the largest deals to date.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Desiree cherishes spending time with her two young sons, stepdaughter, and her crime-fighting husband.

Visit Desiree at

Gale Wilkinson

Founder and Managing Partner at VITALIZE

Gale Wilkinson is the founder and Managing Partner at VITALIZE, a seed fund and angel community investing in transformative WorkTech software. Previously, Wilkinson founded IrishAngels, one of the largest angel groups in the world. Gale has led $70M+ in early-stage deals across 125+ portfolio companies, and she has made 50 personal angel investments. Her experience prior to VC includes founding two HR tech startups, consulting for new product launches with Nielsen, and data strategy with Orbitz.

Visit Gale at

One free quarter of VITALIZE Angels membership

We have a very inclusive and diverse 550 person angel group that invests $1K+ into startups. We see two pitches per month and have invested in 17 companies to date. Your free quarter is valued at $149; we would love for you to join us if you are interested in becoming an angel.

Ellen Wilcox

Investor and Head of Listening at Listen Ventures

Ellen Wilcox is an investor and the Head of Listening at Listen Ventures, an early-stage consumer VC. At Listen, Ellen is on a mission to bring design thinking and design research to the world of venture capital, turning human stories into consumer insight and intellectual curiosity into investment conviction. She mixes methods to craft investment theses, bring the consumer voice to due diligence, and help founders design brands that listen.

Over the past year, she has been focused on investing in the health and wellbeing of midlife women, as well as the consumer brands that cater to them. As part of this pursuit, she authored "Mindsets from the Middle," an ethnographic exploration of modern midlife womanhood. The book delves into the mindsets that influence behavior in this stage of life and the obstacles that hinder women from being, staying, and feeling 'well' in midlife. You can find the book at this link: [Mindsets from the Middle].

Ellen's career has been dedicated to understanding human behavior and designing effective interventions that bridge the gap between rational economic models and the complexities of the human mind. Her approach reflects her diverse background, combining the curiosity of a Montessori upbringing, the problem-solving skills of a Deloitte consultant, the creativity of an IDEO designer, and the business acumen gained from a Kellogg MBA.

Visit Ellen at

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