The Simon Initiative

Established in 2018, The Simon Initiative is a multi-stage, collaborative initiative sponsored by Washington University’s Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation & Entrepreneurship to expand diversity and interdisciplinary approaches to entrepreneurship.

Thanks to the generous support of alumnus Andrew Simon (LA63) and his wife Andrea, the Skandalaris Center has launched the Simon Initiative to develop a distinctive ecosystem of women entrepreneurs, advisors, mentors and investors.



This initiative aims to broaden the diversity of entrepreneurial activity to include more women and under-represented populations across a broad spectrum of disciplinary sectors (liberal arts, humanities, creative arts, social as well as tech, medicine and life sciences).

  • BUILD a Professional Network of experienced women entrepreneurs, innovators, advisors, mentors and investors spanning all disciplines and sectors
  • CONNECT women in the Washington University Community (undergraduate students, graduate students, professional students, post-docs, alumni, faculty, staff and community members) to the Professional Network
  • EMPOWER women to be confident in their ideas and explore their possibilities
  • TRAIN women to identify opportunity and turn it into a viable venture concept
  • LEVERAGE existing Washington University-related initiatives to amplify support of women’s entrepreneurship



The  second annual HER Summit: Helping Entrepreneurs Rise, will be held Saturday, October 19th, 2019 from 8:30am-2:00pm. This day is all about community building and empowerment amongst female and minority entrepreneurs, helping them rise above gender and cultural norms as they build their dream empires. Register for this year’s HER Summit »

To keep the momentum going all summer, the Simon Initiative presented a mini HER Summit panel on July 10, 2019, followed by a networking session. Read the recap »

To celebrate a year of Helping Entrepreneurs Rise, we held a HER ReUnion Reception as part of WashU’s ReUnion Weekend on April 12, 2019! Participants from past HER initiatives attended, as did several female alumni from the innovation and entrepreneurship fieldRead the recap »

As a follow on event from HER Summit, the Simon Initiative hosted Power HER Pitch on Friday, February 1, 2019. This interactive opportunity helped people find their voice and improve their pitch. This workshop was led by Theresa Carrington of Ten by Three. Read the recap »

The first Simon Initiative event was HER Summit: Helping Entrepreneurs Rise, held on Saturday, November 3rd, 2018. The all-day summit brought together female innovators and entrepreneurs from the WashU and St. Louis communities. Attendees heard from successful female entrepreneurs, brainstormed solutions to their business challenges, and networked to build their community of like-minded, fearless women. Read the recap »

Andrew and Andrea Simon

Andrew and Andrea Simon at the launch of the Simon Initiative in May 2018.
Photo by Sid Hastings / Washington University

Andrew Simon is a 1963 Political Science graduate of Washington University who went on to receive an MBA from Columbia. While at WashU, Andrew was a letterman in football and track and served on the Thurtene Honorary. He played key roles launching new business and product lines with L'Oréal and Citibank and later led the growth of an educational testing venture, eventually selling the company. Andrea Simon, a corporate anthropologist and business executive, is an award-winning author of On the Brink: A Fresh Lens To Take Your Business To New Heights, and she hosts a podcast of the same name. She founded Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC) in 2002 to bring a unique perspective of anthropology to help businesses successfully respond to changing business environments. Andrew Simon is also a partner of SAMC.