Marianne Hudson Honored with Prestigious Hans Severiens Award

By Sarah Dickey, ACA Membership Director

The Angel Capital Association had the very distinct honor of awarding Marianne Hudson the Hans Severiens Award at the 2019 ACA Summit in Chicago.  This annual national award recognizes one individual’s work in advancing the field of angel investing.  The criteria for this prominent award include depth of the individual’s impact on advancement of angel investing, leadership in bringing awareness of the field and contribution to the knowledge base of angel investing.  Marianne clearly demonstrates these qualities through her work in founding the association and growing it as ACA’s Executive Director.  ACA has become an important institution for angel investors and the startup ecosystem, providing education, data, smart practices and public policy advocacy for angel investors in every American state and five Canadian provinces.

Catherine Mott, Founder of BlueTree Allied Angels and Chair of the Hans Severiens Selection Committee, says, “Over 15 years Marianne Hudson transformed a nascent and disparate industry to a very professional asset class with best practices, industry standards for investment processes and terms, and an active public policy presence. Not only did she advance angel capital in the US, she helped other countries around the world by sharing our experiences and encouraging their efforts to advance angel investing and job creation.”

The award is named after Hans Severiens, whose love of startups and mentoring led him to form one of the first angel groups in the United States, the Band of Angels, which continues to be one of the most active angel groups in the world.  Hans understood the value of angel groups and investing, and highly prioritized sharing his experience to help others.

On winning the Hans Severiens Award, Marianne states, “I’m really honored to be included on the list of people who’ve won this award.  So many are my mentors and they all have had a huge impact on our field.  I knew Mr. Severiens and the kind of pioneer, gentleman and innovator he was.”

This year’s award ceremony was especially poignant, as Marianne will soon be retiring as Executive Director of ACA.    

Her interest in angel investing began during her time as the Director of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation where growing interest in angel investing led to a formal initiative.  This official initiative was originally a program of the Kauffman Foundation and then spun in to its own independent non-profit in 2007.  Since ACA became a formal organization, the efforts of Hudson and ACA members have helped thousands of women become angel investors, increasing the percentage of female angels from 5% to 23% in 15 years and working to make legislative changes to benefit angel investors. 

Economic impact and job creation are Marianne’s driving passions of angel investing.  She notes, “Almost every angel I meet seems to care about this – it is great to be part of the startup support ecosystem and create great new companies, especially in our own communities.”

When asked about her proudest moments working on behalf of angel investors, Marianne highlights her work on the getting language in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform act about accredited investor definition changed so that most angels could continue startup investing.  This was one of the major legislative milestones during her time because it ensured that most angels could continue investing in startups when the legislation initially would have cut the number of people who qualify as accredited investors by 60%.  This would not have been great for the investors, but could have been a total disaster for the innovative startups that need capital. 

Marianne led the ACA team that negotiated a compromise, culminating in the “Angel Amendment” to Dodd-Frank in 2010 that led to today’s definition of an accredited investor.  Last year, the group led the charge to increase the number of angels who could invest in an angel fund from 99 to 249.  This team also ensured that gains on Qualified Small Business Stock are 100% exempt from taxes and ensured that startups can benefit from R&D tax credits by taking the credits against their payroll taxes.  Marianne is also proud of the fact that three quarters of the investments by ACA members are syndicated.  ACA made the difference in syndication by helping members build relationships, trust and the rights processes to invest together.

Marianne’s work as an angel investor and as the Executive Director and founder of ACA has paved the road for the future success of angel investors. She is a member of the Mid-America Angels and Women’s Capital Connection.  She serves on the board of the National Angel Capital Organization, ACA’s colleague association in Canada, and the Center for American Entrepreneurship.  Previously, Marianne was a director of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, Vice President of the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center, and an associate in technology economic development organizations in Ohio and Kansas. She holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the University of Kansas and an M.A. in Public Policy from Rutgers University.

“Angel investors are innovating almost everything about our field – how deals are structured, vehicles for making investments, who becomes active as investors, the kinds of companies we invest in and so much more.  It will be important for ACA to continue leading the field and ensuring its membership reflects these growing innovations and also be as diverse and inclusive as possible, by gender, race, age range, geography and investment model,” Marianne explains.

This honor is well deserved.  Congratulations to Marianne for her outstanding work on behalf of angel investors and the startup ecosystem.  We wish her continued success in her retirement from ACA and in her future endeavors.