Hi, I’m Lisa Suennen. Here is my background:
I have worked in and/or with all sides of the healthcare continuum (digital health/health IT/payer/provider/ health services /medical device/pharma); I have also worked on multiple sides of the business equation (executive/operations leadership, venture investor, strategy consultant, board member). As such, I think of myself as having a sort of Rubik’s Cube of healthcare knowledge that I can apply to new situations in a highly flexible way. From a practical standpoint, it means that I have an unusually broad perspective on the interplay among the different healthcare disciplines, the economics that drive them and the incentives that make buyers/decision-makers pay attention.
I combine that knowledge with a broad skill set in executive and operational leadership, strategy/BD, sales & marketing, partnering, and fund-raising to deliver results, whether it’s launching a new company or product, developing new go-to-market and partnering strategies, building a team and ensuring esprit de corps, accelerating growth in existing and/or new markets or raising capital. I’m keenly aware of the need for balancing strategy with the pragmatic realities of money and markets – a need that applies across early stage, growth and established companies.
What I’ve Done: Executive/Operating Leadership, Venture Capital Investing (Corporate Venture and Independent Funds), Strategy Consulting, Board Member, Advisor to companies large and small
Other Activities: Advisor to Startup Companies, Venture Valkyrie blog (http://venturevalkyrie.com), Faculty at UC Berkeley/Haas, Frequent public speaker. Founder, CSweetener.org
As of January 2024, I lead American Heart Association Ventures as Managing Partner. AHA Ventures has multiple programs for double bottom-line impact investing across the healthcare continuum. The current programs include Cardeation and two Social Impact Funds, with more to come.
I continue to lead Venture Valkyrie, LLC, my personal advisory firm,that houses this blog, as well as my other various advising, writing and speaking activities. I am also on faculty at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, where I have taught an annual semester-long class on venture capital and innovation for the last 14 years. I am a National Advisor to professional services firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and on the advisory boards of several young companies and a few venture funds.
I have served on numerous private company, public company and not-for-profit boards of directors throughout my career. I currently chair the Scientific Advisory Board of the NASA Translational Research Institute and the International Investment Advisory Committee (IIAC) of ANDHealth Limited, a digital health investment initiative funded by the Australian and Victorian governments. I also serve on the advisory board of several emerging healthcare companies.
I am a Fellow of the inaugural class of the Aspen Institute’s Health Innovators Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network . I previously served as a member of the Advisory Board of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator Investing in Innovations program and on Governor Jerry Brown’s Advisory Board on Precision Medicine.
I was also founder of CSweetener, a not-for-profit organization that matches rising women leaders in healthcare with luminaries that guide their careers during year-long virtual mentorships. CSweetener was acquired by the HLTH Foundation.
I write a blog on healthcare and healthcare investing found here at www.venturevalkyrie.com. The blog has tens of thousands of readers annually and I am proud to note that it has been highlighted on the Forbes/Women 2.0 VC Women Who Blog List, on MedCity News’ list of 12 powerful female voices in healthcare innovation and social media, and on Health IT News’ list of the Top 10 bloggers to follow on Twitter.
In 2023 I authored a chapter in the wonderful book, Artists Remaking Medicine, by Emily Peters. In 2020 I was featured in the book The Intelligent Investor by Alison Davis and Matthew LaMerle. In 2019 I was featured in the book Women Who Venture by Renata George. In 2018 I was named Top Digital Health Evangelist by Goldman Sachs, Rock Health, Fenwick and West & Square 1 Bank, and the fund I led for GE Ventures was named the most prolific corporate venture fund. In 2018 I was also named #2 in the Global Corporate Venturing list of 100 Rising Stars, which designates the top 1% of the corporate venture capital industry chosen from 100 corporate venturing units. In 2018 I was also included in the Female Health IT Leaders to Know, a list created by Becker’s Hospital Review. In 2017, I was named to Becker’s Hospital Review as one of 110 women to know in medtech. In 2015, I was proudly featured as a Tech Superwoman in this Forbes article. I was also named to Onalytica’s List of Top Digital Health Influencers and Brands in 2015 and 2016. In 2014 I was named as one of the Top 50 People in Digital Health by Rock Health, Goldman Sachs, Fenwick & West and Silicon Valley Bank and also as one of 5 Disruptive Women to Watch in 2015 by Disruptive Women in Healthcare . In 2013 I was named to the Healthcare IT News HIT Top 100 List. In 2011 I was the recipient of the Director of the Year Award (Companies in Transition) from the Corporate Director’s Forum. In 2011 I was also was awarded the U.C. Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies Outstanding Alumni Award. Go Bears!S
Some years ago, I co-author0ed, with Dr. David Shaywitz, the book Tech Tonics: Can Passionate Entrepreneurs Heal Healthcare with Technology, published in 2013. Together David and I also long produced a very popular twice-monthly podcast, also called Tech Tonics, focused on the intersection of the people and passion behind digital health. The many past episodes of the podcast can be found HERE on Apple Podcasts.
Outside of the work through my Venture Valkyrie, LLC enterprise, I most recently served as President, Digital & Data Solutions at Canary Medical, a company at the intersection of medical devices and digital health. Until the end of 2021, I led Manatt Phelps & Phillips digital and technology businesses (strategy consulting and legal P&L focused on tech, venture and related areas), led the digital health consulting practice, and oversaw the firm’s venture capital fund. As a Managing Director at Manatt, my consulting role spanned all sectors, though I was especially focused on healthcare, engaging with payers, health systems pharma, medtech and emerging companies to provide strategic advice on innovation, digital strategy, investment/partnership models, new product design and growth.
Prior to Manatt was as Senior Managing Director of GE Ventures. In this role I was responsible for leading GE Ventures healthcare venture investing activities, including investments in healthcare IT, healthcare services and their points of intersection with medical technology and pharma (and particularly where these worlds collide in what we now call digital health).
Previously I was a partner of Psilos Group, a healthcare-focused venture capital firm. I headed Psilos’ West Coast office from the firm’s founding in 1998 and focused on the healthcare information technology, healthcare services, medtech and digital health sectors.
Prior to Psilos, I spent 9 years as a healthcare entrepreneur, primarily at Merit Behavioral Care (formerly American Biodyne, Inc.), where I held various senior executive roles including Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Senior Vice President/General Manager of the Public Sector Division (a $300 million business unit which I built from scratch) and Senior Vice President of Pacific Region Operations serving several million covered lives. I joined Merit in 1989 while the company was still in its early start-up period and, during my nine-year tenure, I played a key role in its growth to an $800 million revenue/year company. While at Merit, I also participated in the acquisition and integration of various behavioral healthcare companies, the company’s IPO in 1991, and the company’s sale to Magellan Health for $800 million in 1998.
Before entering the wild world of healthcare, I did a 4-year stint in the tech world. I served as Worldwide Product Manager for INGRES/Relational Technology, Inc., a relational database company, where I had responsibility for development, marketing and distribution for the company’s UNIX PC software product. Prior to INGRES, I served as Director of U.S. Market Development and as a Manager, U.S. Government and Industry Relations for X/Open, an international computer industry standards setting and lobbying consortium. Earlier, I spent several very formative years at Regis McKenna, Inc. (the former firm led by Regis McKenna), a legendary high technology marketing and public relations firm, where I was responsible for marketing, public relations and public sector strategy for client companies in the software and healthcare areas.
I hold an M.A. in political science, a B.A. in political science and a B.A. in mass communications, all from the University of California, Berkeley. I am delighted to be on faculty at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business where I currently teach an annual class on healthcare innovation and venture capital in the changing healthcare economy.
And the Rest
I live in Marin County, California with my family and an adorable and entitled chihuahua.
If you haven’t had enough already, here is some press where I am featured:
And a speech I gave at the NCQA Quality Talks about the changing face of healthcare.
About the Venture Valkyrie Blog
I started the Venture Valkyrie blog to have a forum to talk about my thoughts about our changing healthcare system as well as the role played by startup companies and the private equity/venture capital.
I also like to write about innovation and entrepreneurship generally and the evolving world of health tech and its points of intersection with healthcare, medtech and biotech. I have worked in the healthcare field as an entrepreneur, operator and investor longer than I care to admit and try to take a new perspective on what I see.
I also have a particular interest in how women fare in my fields of interest, as this topic can certainly be interesting in ways both good and bad.
I strive to bring good information combined with humor, as it can make essays about some very dry subjects worth reading all the way to the end. Plus I can’t help myself but to point out the humor in my field of work – sometimes you can’t make up things that are more ridiculous than what healthcare, startup founders, and/or venture capital come up with on their own. Everything in the blog and on my podcast is a product of my own thinking and does not represent any other organization with which I am affiliated.
Lisa can be reached at lisasuennen @ venturevalkyrie.com or through the comments section of this blog, or you can find me on LinkedIn. Thanks for reading!