From Mental Health Teletherapy to Building a Benefits Platform McDermott Rise Announces Additional Cohorts - McDermott Will & Emery

From Mental Health Teletherapy to Building a Benefits Platform McDermott Rise Announces Additional Cohorts


International law firm McDermott Will & Emery is proud to announce the next round of members of McDermott Rise.

“McDermott Rise was born out of our commitment to combat inequality and promote fairness while helping bridge the gap for founders of color,” Anthony (Tony) Upshaw, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at McDermott, said. “Launched in 2020, the program is three years strong, and we have enjoyed being a small part of helping these businesses find success.”

We welcome these McDermott Rise members:

AlerjeFrom the age of five, founder and CEO Javier Evelyn understood the struggle of navigating multiple food allergies. Thus, Alerje (pronounced just like “allergy”) was born to help food allergic families take control. Its technology simplifies food allergy management, reducing the stress for caregivers as they strive to prevent potentially deadly anaphylaxis incidents.

BallstarFounder Nigel Caldon is democratizing data for the amateur athlete. Ballstar’s scorekeeping software is designed to eliminate pen and paper from the game, keeping the focus on basketball.

CandlelitAfter a traumatic birth of her oldest son, founder, CEO and mom of two Lauren Elliott, MA, MHFA, developed a tool that identifies pregnant and postpartum women of color at risk for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and, in partnership with their doctors, pairs women with culturally-affirming, virtual psychoeducation led by trained coaches, reproductive psychiatrists and psychologists on demand. Candlelit’s mission is to simplify access to perinatal mental health treatment by offering affordable coaching and guided support to one million Black women and birthing families who identify within the African diaspora by 2025.

Cross Impact Capital Founded by Abbeygale Anderson, Cross Impact Capital is a seed fund focused on underrepresented founders and/or businesses that seek to solve some of the largest disparities among marginalized communities, especially in the sectors of financial services, healthcare and industrials.

EmVisionA social impact media agency, EmVision helps visionaries convey how they’re changing the world. Co-created in 2013 by Dr. Tariana V. Little, EmVision is a queer, certified minority and woman-owned business and producers of content, partners in causes and philanthropists giving forward.

Freeman CapitalFounder Calvin Williams, Jr. is the only Black-owned, automated wealth management platform registered by the SEC offering clients access to a dedicated wealth manager, investment planning and financial planning-as-a-service, with a goal of closing the wealth gap and improving quality of life.

GigEasyFounder and CEO Rilwan Lawal created GigEasy based on his own work experience and the lack of benefits for gig workers. Their mission is to provide the essential safety net for this largely underserved population by building a benefits platform providing a suite of benefits typically reserved for people working for employers.

Glint Pharmaceuticals – This Massachusetts-based company, led by CEO Chris Adams, is developing proprietary drug delivery technology for the treatment and prevention of ocular infections and diseases.

Great Lakes BiologicsGreat Lakes Biologics is a Contract Research Development Organization (CRDO) co-founded by Crystal Brown, MBA, specializing in the process development of small-scale batches of biologic product candidates used in biopharmaceutical research and development under service contracts.

I Am Black Business – A platform for connecting with and promoting black owned businesses created by CEO and President Joseph Guster and COO Lee Lewis, Jr.

Integrative Management Solutions – Led by Dr. Drena Valentine, Integrative Management Solutions (IMS) is a strategic management and professional services consulting firm serving small to mid-size businesses, local and state governments and nonprofit organizations. IMS helps clients assess their company’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in business operations, management and leadership by identifying the underlining issue through information-gathering analysis, recommendations and implementation.

Legacy ShiftFounders Sandra and Isaac are on a mission to disrupt workplace mentorship and coaching with a better and more efficient way for organizations to manage, streamline, and measure their programs. LegacyShift is a network-based B2B platform that easily connects members with mentors, leaders and experts within their organization for life and career support.

Manana – The caregiver burden is increasing along with the social isolation of people who need help. Manana connects individuals with a community of specialized help through an easy-to-use digital platform. Manana exists to directly solve many families’ needs in finding reliable and caring support to allow their loved ones to age at home.

Ophthalmic Therapeutic Innovation Created by Biopharma Physician Dr. Tina Guanting Qiu, this company offers a unique evidence-based approach to transforming modern medicine development with high success.

Skygenic – Skygenic, a cloud-based platform that accelerates biological research and medical discovery through data analytics accessibility and inter-institutional collaboration.

Semy – Co-founders Christian Hines and Christopher Hines are evolving the way people  gift with Semy, a social ecommerce platform that allows users and merchants to digitally share real gifts with a personal touch. Semy is the fi-its-kind gifting platform that enables friend-of-friend digital gifting, business-to-consumer incentives and sponsored goods-and-services all in one ecommerce platform.

TotalLifeTotal Life, created by Neelam Bear, instantly connects people with therapy options covered by Medicare. Members can connect with expert licensed therapists by text, phone, or online video chat providing better accessibility and a stronger support system than in-person therapy.

UnMuteColleen Leung is a first-generation born Chinese-American and founder of Unmute, a teletherapy platform focused on improving therapy completion rates for the BIPOC community. Unmute matches patients to the right therapist and offers a 16-week treatment centered around culturally responsive care.

Vitro3DVitro3D is reimagining manufacturing by using a proprietary cartridge-based volumetric 3D printing technique to disrupt how medical devices and tissue engineering and regeneration tools are fabricated. CEO and co-founder Camila Uzcategui, PhD is a 3D printing expert with over six years of experience innovating in the industry.

WESTxEASTWhen Indian-American co-founders Tania & Liya needed traditional garments to wear during cultural events, their existing options were unreliable, so they created their own virtual design service. WESTxEAST helps the South Asian-American community maintain their connections to their heritage and serves to reinvigorate traditional artisanship in Indian textile production.

Wolomi – Founded by registered nurse and maternal health expert Layo George BSN, MHSA, Wolomi is the first digital community owned by a nurse of color that offers support to women of color to improve experiences and maternal health outcomes. Walomi focuses on guiding and supporting aspiring moms, moms-to-be and new moms to enjoy their motherhood journey.


The playing field for Black and other entrepreneurs of color is systemically unfair—and we’re committed to taking an active role to change that. That’s why we’ve launched McDermott Rise: to combat inequality and promote fairness while helping bridge the gap for Black founders and founders of color. We aim to work with both early-stage and emerging companies that have an innovative plan and are solving an important problem, but that could use a boost from an experienced legal team from a top-ranked international firm.

Learn more about McDermott Rise here. Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply here.

About McDermott

McDermott Will & Emery partners with leaders around the world to fuel missions, knock down barriers and shape markets. Our team works seamlessly across practices and industries to deliver highly effective solutions that propel success. More than 1,400 lawyers strong, we bring our personal passion and legal prowess to bear in every matter for our clients and the people they serve.

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