Elaine Chon-Baker is Chief Strategy Officer of BuildGrow, a nonprofit focused on workforce development in rural areas. The first phase will include re-building and reinvigorating communities through hospitality, the arts, marketing/branding, and creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem through rural co-working spaces.
BuildGrow will develop talent and businesses for the purpose of creating sustained market returns by connecting rural communities with educational and entrepreneurial opportunities for advancement. We focus on innovation specific to current and future of work challenges in rural environments and promote partnerships with corporations to stimulate economic development. BuildGrow will help enhance communities that will attract companies and keep talent in the region.
Elaine is also Founder and Managing Director of Mokja Ventures, a Washington DC-based boutique venture capital fund that invests in food entrepreneurs, innovative restaurant concepts, and hospitality tech. Mokja means “let’s eat” in Korean – a nod to her heritage and her close relationship with her parents and six sisters. She founded Mokja Ventures as a natural outgrowth of her love for food, finance, and start-ups. Elaine is involved with national and global programs that support and promote food and beverage, especially women in the industry. She has been advising and mentoring budding entrepreneurs in all sectors with launching and growing their businesses. She is a realist, not a dream crusher.
Elaine’s career spans a variety of industries such as environmental consulting, satellite telecom, startups, e-commerce, investing, and hospitality. Everything has come full circle with BuildGrow.