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May 22, 2020 - Kathy O'Dell

Topics: Economic independence, micro-lending, and much more!

Show Details

On this "Best of" episode, we interview Kathy O'Dell, CEO of Women's Economic Ventures. Our first story focuses on micro-lending, showing us that a little bit of trust can go a long, long way. The road out of poverty is often very long and often very circuitous. It is not a sprint, it is a marathon where each step can have life changing consequences.  And, at a time when the average American does not even have an extra $400 to cover an emergency-like an unexpected medical cost or a car repair - a lot of us live much closer to financial ruin than we are willing to admit-- especially during this pandemic. One tool to counteract poverty is micro-lending. A micro loan is a loan under $1000 that has little collateral or requirements, and is then invested into the local community. With little risk and high potential to help, micro-lending is a solution we need!


Our next story on this show talks about how allowance can help teach children good money habits. The value and purchasing power of money is an important lesson, but it’s not a lesson that many people get growing up. Part of why micro-lending banks are successful is because they also help teach their recipients about making and spending money. With all the focus on teaching towards standardized tests, money management is not something children are taught in school, and my experience is that most adults never learn it anywhere even after school.  Budgeting, saving money, and having an individual bank account are all great opportunities to learn something about how money can work in your life. In addition to an allowance, children also need coaching and support from their guardians to develop financial literacy and independence. 

Kathy O'Dell

Kathy Odell assumed the CEO role at Women's' Economic Ventures on January 1, 2020 upon Marsha Bailey’s retirement.


Kathy is a serial entrepreneur with over 30 years of leadership experience. She began her entrepreneurial career in 1985 as co-founder Medical Concepts, Inc., which over a five-year period became the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of video systems for minimally invasive surgery, resulting in its acquisition by Karl Storz Endoscopy in 1990. She remained with the company through 2000, when she resigned to pursue new entrepreneurial ventures.


From 2002 to 2008, Kathy served as CEO of Inogen, Inc., a manufacturer of advanced therapy devices for treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). During Kathy’s tenure, Inogen received over $53M in venture capital. Today Inogen is a public company with a $2B market cap [NASDAQ:INGN].


From 1998 to 2012, Kathy was a director of Pacific Capital Bancorp, N.A. [NASDAQ: PCBC], a regional community bank with $6.5B in assets, where she served as Chair of the Compensation Committee and as a member of the Enterprise Risk and Governance committees.


Kathy has been committed to supporting women entrepreneurs throughout her career and joined the Women’s Economic Ventures board in 2010. In addition to her work with Women’s Economic Ventures, she serves on two non-profit boards, the UCSB Economic Forecast Project and the Sustainable Change Alliance, a community-based impact investing group. Kathy is a graduate of Stanford University.

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