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Alana Beard

Board Member

Alana Beard

Alana Beard is a former WNBA player, philanthropist, and rising professional in the venture capital investment space. Alana won Championships at every level from high school to the WNBA and internationally, then focused her vision on being one of the first Black female athletes to succeed as an investor, start-up founder, and advocate for women leaders in the innovation and technology ecosystem. Her mission is to leverage her position as an elite athlete and role model to “pay it forward” by expanding access and creating new opportunities for people who face adversity in both athletic and professional spaces. She is the Co-Founder of Transition Play, Founder and President of the 318 Foundation, and a Board Member at SmartRent (NYSE: SMRT), and Fifth Wall Acquisition Corp. I and III.

Alana was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, before attending Duke University as a star player on the women’s basketball team. Upon her graduation in 2004, Duke honored her as the first woman whose jersey number was retired and hung in the rafters of Cameron Indoor Stadium. She was drafted as the #2 overall pick to the Washington Mystics, where she played for eight years, then signed as a free agent to the Los Angeles Sparks. A four-time WNBA All-Star, she overcame a potentially career-ending injury in 2010 to lead the Sparks to a WNBA Championship in 2016 and win back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year Awards in 2017 and 2018. She retired in January 2020 after 15 years.

Throughout her athletic career, Alana eagerly pursued opportunities to travel outside the U.S. She visited 27 countries to play basketball on the global stage, most notably in Israel, Australia, South Korea, Russia, Poland, and Spain, where she led her team to two Spanish League Championships in 2016 and 2017. The following year, she was named a Sports Envoy by the U.S. State Department’s Sports Diplomacy Office. She represented the United States as the leader of youth basketball clinics in the Philippines and India, where she promoted her values of leadership and inclusion.

Alana continuously prepared for her life after the WNBA by engaging in entrepreneurial pursuits as a small business owner, philanthropist, and mentor to female athletes. In 2004, she launched the Alana Beard Foundation, a nonprofit organization that sponsors female Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball teams in Maryland and Louisiana. With her former teammate Marissa Coleman, she opened a Mellow Mushroom franchise in Roanoke, Virginia, in 2016. Upon her retirement, she immediately pursued leadership roles in predominantly white and male-dominated industries. She completed an internship at Next Play Capital, then joined Silicon Valley Bank Capital as a Senior Associate supporting the Fourth Wave venture vehicle. As a Board Member at Fifth Wall Acquisition Corp. I, she advised company leaders as they navigated the completion of their IPO through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) transaction in 2021.

While building her network in the investment space, Alana made it her mission to increase accessibility for minorities in venture capital. She founded and currently serves as President of the 318 Foundation, a nonprofit that invests in youth development through mentorship, education, and sport. Most recently, she co-founded Transition Play, a platform that supports athletes—especially women and people of color—in transitioning to business, social, and civic life. The platform offers access to networking, mentorship, professional, and recruitment opportunities historically unavailable to these groups.

 Alana achieved her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Duke University. In 2017, she completed Harvard Business School’s Crossover into Business program, a key offering of the NBA Player Development Program.

A seasoned public speaker on leadership topics, Alana is actively pursuing opportunities to deliver keynotes, motivational speeches, and casual “fireside chats” to organizations in the technology, sports, and philanthropic sectors.