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Deena Shakir

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What you seek is seeking you.

Biography

Deena is on a mission to partner with the world’s most audacious founders taking on the most challenging problems. She is an operator at heart with a passion for partnerships and company building. She is particularly interested in breakthrough approaches in health, home, and access that can positively transform lives. 

Deena believes humanity-focused venture investing is about more than just capital, approaching company building with support and empathy for founders and a lens towards the ethical and societal implications of technologies. Since joining us in late 2019, she has led Lux’s investment in Mos, a technology platform seeking to make college more affordable; Shiru, a company that leverages computational design to create enhanced proteins to help feed the world sustainably, where she is also a board director; Deena has also joined as an observer on the board of directors of RDMD, a data platform for rare disease drug development.

Prior to joining Lux, Deena led strategic partnerships for early stage products in healthcare, research, machine intelligence and search at Google. There she also directed social impact investments at Google.org and supported a portfolio of more than 300 companies to achieve business development and growth opportunities with GV (formerly Google Ventures). 

Before she became an investor, Deena had diverse people-centric global experiences as an aspiring anthropologist, journalist, diplomat, aid worker and technologist. She was a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of State under Secretary Clinton, where she helped launch President Obama’s first Global Entrepreneurship Summit in 2010. Her non-traditional path to venture capital landed her in roles that brought people together to foster partnerships through diplomacy, public service, and technology. It has also cultivated Deena’s deep conviction in the power of founders of new ventures to positively transform the future and an unparalleled network to help them achieve it. 

Deena serves on the Boards of several non-profits including Tarjimly, TechWadi, and AMIDEAST. She is a Kauffman Fellow and a Council on Foreign Relations Term Member. Financially independent since the age of 18, she funded her undergraduate and graduate degrees through a variety of merit scholarships and side hustles, including co-founding her first internet company while still in college. Deena earned a joint BA in Social Studies and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard (where she delivered the graduation address) and an MA from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.

 

What was your first side hustle?

Back office organizing charts (pre-EMR) at my father’s medical practice! I asked to be paid by the hour accordingly to my age in years.

What is the most exciting innovation in the last decade?

It’s not easy to pick just one: approachable AI, economic and efficient gene sequencing, metal 3D printing, and neural networks. These are all exciting, but what is most compelling is how the secular trends of technology have made these innovations so much more widely available. This opens up possibilities for unprecedented economic access and widespread innovation.

What was it like growing up?

I am the daughter of Muslim immigrants from Iraq and grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley––before it was “Silicon Valley”. I am preceded by generations of scientists, physicians, and public educators. My parents and forebears impressed on me a passion for lifelong learning, the liberating possibilities of science and medicine, and the grounding and guiding principles of ethics and family first.

 

Key Facts

  • Deena is the first-generation daughter of immigrants from Iraq and speaks fluent Arabic and French; she is also conversational in Spanish

  • A former journalist, Deena once hosted the pilot episode of a bilingual Arabic-English TV news series modeled after 60 Minutes

What you seek is seeking you. Jalaluddin Rumi

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