Defy Ventures
  • New York, NY , United States

Defy (v.): To challenge or dare a person to do something deemed impossible.


Defy Ventures is a New York City-based organization that provides carefully selected, ambitious men who have criminal histories with entrepreneurship training and leadership development. By inspiring and equipping business executives and other private sector leaders to apply their resources to clients, Defy Ventures creates life-transforming opportunities. Defy Ventures’ clients are provided with a legitimate chance to succeed as income earners, entrepreneurs, fathers, and role models in their communities. Defy Ventures’ vision is to create localized solutions that impact every urban community in America. Defy Ventures is entirely privately funded by executives, foundations, and other generous donors.


As a start-up, Defy is currently rolling out a Pilot Program to serve 50 clients and their families. Defy will recruit its clients from partner organizations which provide transitional services to men who have recently been released from prison. Clients who demonstrate strong character and commitment during Defy’s rigorous classroom training program will be introduced to long-term careers in sales, customer service, or other professional positions with opportunities for growth. Defy will also recruit executive-level volunteers to create holistic, pro bono solutions for its clients, which will include mentoring, family reunification, long-term housing, and legal services. 


Catherine Rohr, CEO and Founder of Defy Ventures, is a former venture capitalist who brings to the organization five years of experience as the Founder and CEO of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP). Under Catherine’s leadership, PEP was recognized for its innovation and results by NBC Nightly News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, National Public Radio, Entrepreneur Magazine and Deal Maker Magazine. Results include a return-to-prison rate of less than 10%, an employment rate of 98%, and the creation of more than 60 small businesses by its graduates.