Since 2008, Katharine “Kit” Needham has been the director and entrepreneur-in-residence at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University, where she oversees a series of innovative classes and programs designed to provide innovators and entrepreneurs with the skills, tools, and connections they need to build their businesses and thrive. She is the assistant dean of for the Entrepreneurship Initiative and director of Project Olympus, the Swartz Center’s business incubator and one of its largest programs, offering would-be business owners coaching, consulting, and a roadmap to incorporation. With five decades of expertise in the banking and financial industries and a natural talent for developing ideas and finding new ways to do things, Ms. Needham has also operated Needham Consulting, an independent, Pittsburgh-based firm, since 2006.
She began her career with Riggs National Bank in 1971, holding a variety of roles with the company before moving on to a similarly versatile position with the American Bankers Association in 1981. Between 1997 and 2000, Ms. Needham was the senior director of the Banking Industry Technology Secretariat, a technology consortium of some of the United States’ largest banks responsible for the development of the BITS Security Laboratory and groundbreaking early banking security software applications and certification processes. She was named chief operating officer of the Mellon Financial Corporation’s Mellon Lab in 2000, and in 2004, she became the senior vice president of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.
Ms. Needham’s commitment to the community has extended to serving on numerous organizational boards, including the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Neighborhood Academy, a day camp providing meals, coaching, and educational support to at-risk children and youth. She is a founding board member of the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh and continues her leadership roles with BlueTree Allied Angels, the Pittsburgh Entrepreneur Forum, and other groups. Ms. Needham holds a Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude, from the University of Maryland, and a Master of Management in systems and technology from American University. She has pursued additional management training coursework through the American Bankers Association, and was named one of the Outstanding Young Women of America in 1981 in recognition of her early-career excellence. In the coming years, Ms. Needham looks forward to moving to part-time work with Carnegie Mellon University, beginning to train her replacement, and devoting more time to travel and personal projects.