Ayana Parsons Steps Down As Fearless Fund’s COO, Organization Continues To Fight As DEI Efforts Face Legal Challenges

Ayana Parson has stepped down as the COO of Fearless Fund. Parsons, who announced she stepped down in April, helped to start the Fearless Fund in 2019 along with Arian Simone and Kiesha Knight-Pulliam. 

The fund was created to assist Black women-owned businesses which receive less than 1 percent of overall investment funding annually. 

The Fearless Fund is an Atlanta-based venture capital firm that uses its resources to invests in and fund Black women in business. The fund has invested $26 million into over 40 companies that include Slutty Vegan, The Lip Bar, Partake Foods, and Live Tinted. The Fearless Fund also hosts training and financial literacy programs.

Parsons, who will remain as an investor in Fearless Fund, did not confirm why she stepped down. However, it comes at a time when the organization is facing a legal challenge that could destroy DEI efforts. 

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently upheld an injunction against the Fearless Foundation that has prevented the nonprofit organization from issuing grants to women of color-owned businesses since last August. The judges sided with Edward Blum, president of AAER, who filed the lawsuit. 

A three-judge panel, two judges appointed by Donald Trump and one by President Barack Obama, ruled 2-1 that Fearless Fund is not protected by the First Amendment in its efforts to provide grants for Black women in business. 

The court ruled that the Fearless Fund violated the 1866 Civil Rights Act which prohibits the use of race in making contracts. The original law was issued to remedy discrimination against Black Americans post-slavery. 

Simone responded to the ruling by saying, “In this fearless moment, we should all be motivated to fight after today’s decision,” Simone said. “This is devastating for the Fearless Fund and Foundation, and for the women in which we have invested in. I am shattered for every girl of color who has a dream but will grow up in a nation determined not to give her a shot to live it. On their behalf, we will turn the pain into purpose and fight with all our might.”

During a fireside chat at ForbesBlk in Atlanta on June 24, Parsons urged attendees to lean-in to the Fearless Fund’s efforts and continue to support. 

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