Leigh-Ann Buchanan steps down from aīre ventures, will lead the new Miami-Dade Innovation Authority

Leigh-Ann Buchanan, a longtime leader in the Miami tech community, is taking on her next challenge: She will lead the new Miami-Dade Innovation Authority.

As the organization’s first president, she said she will “lead its launch and support its strategic vision to scale solutions for people most affected by critical challenges, improve economic and social outcomes, and make Miami-Dade a world class capital for high growth companies.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the new nonprofit organization during her  State of the County Address in January. The new nonprofit organization will provide grants to startups tackling pressing community challenges in climate, health, housing, transit, and more as well as invite startups to pilot new technologies with the county. The Innovation Authority was formed with seed funding of $3 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, $3 million from Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, and $3 million from Miami-Dade County.

In accepting the new position, Buchanan is stepping down as president of aīre ventures. She said she will continue her support as a strategic advisor and announced the next leader for the organization.

“It has been my sincere honour to serve as the founding executive of this innovative experiment in social impact and to play a critical role in the growth of aīre ventures from its inception and prior iteration as Venture Café Miami,” she said in her announcement on LinkedIn. Buchanan founded and led the organization for seven years.

aīre ventures is a venture studio that incubated a number of projects, including Tech Equity Miami, a funding consortium announced last year that aims to deploy at least $100 million in funding over five years to expand internet connectivity, tech educational programming, resources for small businesses, and tech employment opportunities for Miami-Dade residents.

aīre ventures also released the REDI Scorecard, in which Buchanan brought together upwards of 80 local partners and 1,600 local innovators to tell the story of racial equity, diversity, and inclusion (REDI) in South Florida’s tech scene. Other projects included the MiamiTech Manifesto, Opportunity Connect, Talent Scout, Passport, Capital Days and Venture Café. Venture Café gathered hundreds of entrepreneurs for Thursday Gatherings, one of the first large, regular networking events with weekly programming that brought together the Miami ecosystem.

“Our legacy of service to over 55,000 innovators, more than 100 local small business entrepreneurs of color, and over 750 students from underrepresented backgrounds would have been impossible to realize absent the wide-spread community support of more than 1000 partners organizations,” Buchanan said in her announcement, thanking her board, team and funders.

Paulina (Nina) Cousiño Parada

Going forward, Paulina (Nina) Cousiño Parada will lead aīre ventures. Parada, who brings social impact experience from roles in both the US and Chile, has served as Managing Director since late 2022. “I am confident that aīre ventures will continue to thrive in the capable hands of Nina, our dynamic team, and dedicated board,” Buchanan said.

“I will continue to support equity-driven efforts that leverage tech, innovation and social investment to transform communities,” Buchanan said.


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Nancy Dahlberg