Leigh-Ann A. Buchanan, Esq.

Leigh-Ann A. Buchanan, Esq.

Executive Director

Leigh-Ann Buchanan is the founding Executive Director of Venture Café Miami.  In this role, she works to facilitate sustainable growth, increased diversity and inclusion, and greater connectivity within Miami’s innovation and startup community.

She previously served as legal counsel to entrepreneurs, startups and multinational corporations in a wide variety of complex business litigation matters and commercial disputes.  

Leigh-Ann currently chairs the ABA’s Coalition on Racial & Ethnic Justice and previously, the ABA National Taskforce on Stand Your Ground Laws.  She also sits on the executive boards of New Leaders Council Miami and Friends of the New World Symphony.  

Leigh-Ann is the founder of the Nyah Project, an exclusive fellowship which develops diverse youth leaders from underserved communities through transformative experiences abroad. She is among a collective of professional women who established Get Linked Miami, a youth hackathon and workshop series that  engages diverse youth in STEM career education and coding training.

She holds a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law and a B.A summa cum laude in International Affairs from Bethune-Cookman University.

Leigh-Ann has been recognized as a one of South Florida’s 40 Under 40 Black Leaders (2013); National Bar Association Women Lawyers Division Rising Star Award (2013); Greater Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, HYPE Award finalist (2014); Daily Business Review, Rising Star (2015); American Bar Association Top 40 Young Lawyers (2016); Aspen Institute’s National Working Group on Inclusive Innovation (2016); Miami- Dade Chamber of Commerce David Fincher Young Innovator of the Year (2016).

Liza Benkovitch

Liza Benkovitch

Program Manager

Liza Benkovitch serves as the Venture Cafe Miami Program Manager and brings her passion for community building, innovation and technology. Liza has a diverse background working in technology sales, product, & innovation management for a software company in Miami and Washington D.C. Liza has extensive international business experience working with private and public sector clients in Latin America, Caribbean, Asia and Africa. She has managed complex public financial development projects in partnership with intergovernmental organizations such as the OAS, IAD and the World Bank.

Liza has always been interested in social innovation and the role of private- public partnerships in developing smart cities and sustainable communities. In her spare time, Liza likes to write blogs about technology, #internet of things, and entrepreneurship. She loves to get involved in the community and is a familiar face at many of the tech events. She was the Assistant VP of Special Events for Women in International Trade (WIIT), a member of United Way Young Leaders, Junior League of Miami, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens and sat on the Committee for Vizcaya’s 30th Annual Halloween Sundowner.

Liza received her Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in International Business in 2011 from the University of Miami. She also has a degree in European Studies, Political Science and Fine Art History from University of Toronto. She was born in Moscow and grew up in Toronto and Miami. Liza is fluent in Russian and English, as well as conversational in French and Spanish.

In her spare time, she likes to dance bachata, salsa and kizomba. She is also ‘re-learning’ how play tennis.

Erick Gavin

Erick Gavin

Program Coordinator

Erick Gavin is currently a 3L law student at the University of Miami School of Law interested in transitioning into a role that allows for inter-disciplinary problem solving mixing together traditional and technology based analysis. This has spurred his interest in technology and innovation pushing me to work in the South Florida Start-up and Innovation field. Additionally, Language learning is a passion of mine and he is in the process of getting certified in French before I move to Spanish. As a hobby he read regularly and code (R and Javascript currently) on the side for fun.

Devon Jenkins

Devon Jenkins

Special Projects Coordinator

Devon Jenkins is currently completing his Juris Doctorate at the University of Miami with a concentration in the Business of Innovation, Law, and Technology. He is fascinated by both sports and technology, and would like to fuse these interests through exploring the intersection between athletics and innovation as athletes become more conscious about investing in startup companies. Devon is excited to continue to explore and learn from the startup community in South Florida while making lasting connections.