Vicky Wu Davis

Vicky Wu Davis

Youth CITIES Founder and Executive Director

An “accounting major-turned entrepreneur in the videogame industry who considered becoming a social worker to work with orphans”, Vicky Wu Davis is the Founder and Executive Director of Youth CITIES.

Vicky grew up hearing people say that work is called “work” because it’s…well…WORK (not play)…and that its primary purpose is to provide a paycheck.  As a result, she chose Accounting as a major so that she could land a stable job post-college with a good 401k program.  In her 20’s however, Vicky fell in love with entrepreneurship.  Wanting to make Boston her home, Vicky pushed her interest to help international orphans onto the backburner, deeming that as part of some post-retirement plans.  She proceeded to start a company in the videogame industry in 2000 (she passed her CEO baton in 2010).  Serendipitously, she ended up also co-founding a nonprofit helping older orphans find permanent homes, showing Vicky that there’s room for a “business/operations person” to help orphaned children too.   This offbeat path introduced her to the notion that one’s passion, skill set, and philanthropic interests can intersect…and that there’s room for different personalities, interests, and abilities to make an impact in this world.  In fact, sustainable value creation benefits from diversity of all sorts.    As a result, Vicky created Youth CITIES to introduce teens to the concept of entrepreneurship and innovation, and to leverage that in ways to improve the fabric of society.   Her desire is to reach as many teens as possible…and as many different types of teens as possible…challenging them to think critically, and inspiring them to act innovatively.

In addition to Youth CITIES, Vicky remains an industry practitioner in the thick of it all.  She is building a learning eco-system for early education that combines technology, gamification techniques, and live classroom learning in the areas of STEM and second-language learning (inspired by her older son).  Vicky is a member for Beacon Angels, a Boston-based angel group that makes investments in the $100,000 to $300,000 range in small fast-growing companies.

Vicky’s love for the community that she lives and/or works in, children, entrepreneurship, and education is evident in her extracurricular activities:

  • Board of The Foster Kids of the Merrimack Valley
  • Steering Committee for Boston’s National Adoption Day
  • Board of Future Boston Alliance
  • Board/Treasure of Leading Cities
  • Cambridge Finance Committee
  • Mentor of entrepreneurship (10+ years) for MIT’s Venture Mentoring Services
  • Advisor for pending new charter school focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)
  • Founding Board of Trustees for pending new charter school  focused on social entrepreneurship
  • School Improvement Council, Bancroft Elementary School in Andover
  • And of course Room Parent for Vicky’s older son’s Kindergarten class

Vicky has been recognized numerous times in the area of entrepreneurship, such as Red Herring’s cover story “Young Moguls:  20 Outstanding Entrepreneurs Under 35”, the Kauffman Foundation for “Entrepreneurs Giving Back”, and the 2004 Boston Business Journal’s “40 Under 40”.

Before discovering her interest in entrepreneurship, Vicky held responsibilities in financial analysis, operations, sales, process engineering, and project management for software development for a variety of small businesses and large corporations.  Vicky has been volunteering at her church’s 3-7 year old program for over a decade, has recently re-kindled her passion for dancing, and is a lifelong Red Sox fan.  She resides in Andover with her husband, 2 young boys, and 3 dogs.

Maria Malavenda

Maria Malavenda

Director of Entrepreneurial Education

Maria believes Innovation is a mindset, not a skill set. She has worked with a multitude of individuals and companies with the intent of helping to inspire and motivate them to sustain, grow, and succeed. With experience running strategy, corporate development, marketing and operations for large, mid-sized and start-up corporations, Maria spent the last 15 years as an advisor and Senior Executive of life sciences, financial services, technology and media/entertainment companies. As a Management Consulting Partner, COO & CMO, she has raised over $2B in seed, venture capital, Private Equity, IPO and post IPO financings’ and achieved considerable returns for investors. She has founded, grown, turned around, bought and sold companies and taken them public. 

She continues to apply what she has learned in helping the businesses she is engaged with improve their performance and avoid mistakes.

Maria has:

  • Raised angel and venture rounds totaling $125 MM
  • M&A Deals exceeding $1B
  • 4 Company Exits: Boost3, Pediatec, BenefitAllies, Tribute International.
  • Obtained non-dilutive financing including debt, grants and licenses.
  • Helped closely held Medical Technology Company with previously flat sales grow 3x to $32MM in sales in 2 years without external financing.
  • Another closely held Services Company grew 3x in the first year of working together.
  • She was asked to co-author a proposal with John Norris, Former COO, FDA for President Obama on Healthcare Reform

Maria’s love and passion for her community where she lives and works and the passion for inspiring youth and adults alike is evident in her activities outside her normal work week:

  • Board Member, Future Boston Alliance
  • Board Member, Health Jump
  • Board Member, Quincy Center for Innovation
  • Advisory Board, Nineteenth Amendment
  • Advisory Board, Brigham & Women’s Biomedical Research Center for Innovation

Maria is a graduate from Brown University, University of CT School of Business and Harvard Business School Executive Program. In her off hours she enjoys travel, dance, the arts, and of course keeping up with the newest fashion trends.

Hao Chen

Web Administration Support Volunteer

Hao is a tech entrepreneur passionate about sustainability. He’s currently Director of Web Services at Apitronics. When not being an active member of the Boston startup community or volunteering at local nonprofits, Hao is at home in Wilmington hanging with his two kids, wife, and inlaws and burning the midnight candle learning about food systems, behavior change, and permaculture.