Founders' Pledge

The Hopkins Founders’ Pledge

For the next generation of entrepreneurial philanthropists

Johns Hopkins University has a vibrant culture of innovation.  Across our campuses, faculty members and students are tackling today’s biggest problems and developing tomorrow’s solutions.

The Hopkins Founders’ Pledge is a mutual commitment — between select entrepreneurs and Johns Hopkins — in the form of promised time and money for Johns Hopkins and support, networks, and engagement for entrepreneurs.

We are bringing together a community of entrepreneurs and innovators who collectively can pool their talent, networks, and capital to support one another, the university, and the innovation ecosystem that starts in Baltimore and spans the world.

While you are growing your business, you are helping to build a culture of giving back by inspiring others to do the same.

And as your business grows, our team can connect you with campus resources for recruitment, visibility, peer networking, and startup support and help you discover the areas you are most passionate about at Hopkins.

Through The Hopkins Founders’ Pledge, Johns Hopkins University is recognizing risk-takers and bringing together a community of entrepreneurs who support innovation at Johns Hopkins.

Individuals who participate in the Hopkins Founders’ Pledge make a nonbinding pledge to support Johns Hopkins and engage with our vibrant campuses and innovation ecosystem. After a liquidity event, you make a gift that is meaningful to you to the schools and programs about which you are passionate.

To learn more and to discuss if the Founders’ Pledge is right for you, contact Allison Wiles, Director of Innovation Initiatives and Corporate Relations (

I signed the Founders’ Pledge because I truly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for the connections and friendships I developed in my time at Hopkins and the valuable life lessons I learned.

Chieh Huang A&S '03, Co-Founder and CEO of


Founders Pledge Chieh Huang
Chieh Huang, A&S ’03
Co-Founder and CEO of
” I firmly believe in paying it forward – and to be able to give back to the university I love so much is an honor. I hope other startup founders will jump on board and continue the proud tradition of supporting their school. Through events like Founders’ Forums, the opportunities to make a meaningful contribution of fine and financial support will go a long way in developing the next generation of successful Hopkins entrepreneurs. Overall, I wish we had a network like this when I was in Baltimore, and now is our chance to build it for a future generation.”
founders pledge jess gartner for web
Jess Gartner, ’11
CEO & Founder, Allovue
“Hopkins has played an important role in my development as an educator and as an entrepreneur in Baltimore. I signed the Founders’ Pledge because I want the university to share in our company’s growth and success. I hope that my commitment to the university will contribute to innovative programs like the new Center for Safe and Healthy Schools at the School of Education.”
Founders Pledge Hank Nordhoff
Hank Nordhoff, ’63
Chairman and CEO of Banyan Biomarkers, Inc.
“My education at Johns Hopkins played a significant role in who I am today and has a stake in my professional career. I owe the University a debt for who it helped me become, and this is making a payment on that debt.”
founders pledge Nicholas Gilson for web
Nicholas Gilson, ‘11
Founder and CEO of Gilson Snow
founders pledge david gutelius
David Gutelius, ’01
Venture Partner at The Data Guild; CEO of
founders pledge Michael Darby for web
Michael Darby, Engr ’01
Co-founder and Chairman, Castle Creek Pharmaceuticals
founders pledge Ben Hwang for web 2
Ben Hwang, A&S ’01
Co-founder and CEO, Profusa, Inc.
founders pledge Yury Yakubchyk for web
Yury Yakubchyk, A&S ’01
Founder and CEO, Sprout Therapy
founders pledge Marian Leitner for web
Marian Leitner, A&S ’09
Co-founder and CEO, Archer Roose
founders pledge Colleen Cutcliffe for web
Colleen Cutcliffe, BSPH ’04
Founder and CEO, Pendulum Therapeutics
founders pledge Sean Howell for web
Sean Howell, co-chair BSPH Center for Public Health and Human Rights Board
Co-founder and Chairman, Hornet
Nick Culbertson, A&S ’12, Med
Co-founder and CEO, Protenus


What is the Hopkins Founders’ Pledge?

The Hopkins Founders’ Pledge is a non-binding pledge made by a for a portion of the equity stake in his or her start-up. The founder commits to making a gift of cash or publicly traded shares of the pledged equity at the time of a liquidity event (sale, merger, IPO, etc.).  There is no immediate asset transfer upon the signing of the pledge, but rather a commitment to give back to the institution after a liquidity event.

Who is it for?

The founder, co-founder or investor of a growth-oriented or venture-backed start-up who wants to partner with Johns Hopkins to tackle the world’s toughest challenges.

How does it work?

Founders’ Pledge members have full control over the timing, amount, and designation of their gift. Our team is ready to work with you over the life of the pledge to help you determine where you would like to direct your support. It’s an easy, low-risk, and rewarding way to join a community of entrepreneurs who have publicly signaled their commitment to Johns Hopkins University.

Why would I want to do this?

When you sign the Founders’ Pledge and commit to supporting Johns Hopkins University, you join an exceptional community of alumni entrepreneurs and trailblazers who have a passion for Hopkins’ programs, research, and mission. It’s also a low-risk, non-binding, and tax-efficient way to support Johns Hopkins. You will also gain opportunities to give back in the form of speaking, advising or advisory board leadership, invitations to events with Johns Hopkins leadership, and internal champions.

Our Innovation Initiatives team is ready to answer any questions you have about the Founders’ Pledge and engaging with Hopkins’ innovation ecosystem. Contact Allison Wiles, director of the Office of Innovation Initiatives and Corporate Relations: or 443-310-6488.