Rowan University Foundation names alumnus chair of innovation venture fund board

Michael Connallon Jr. has been named chair of the Rowan Innovation Venture Fund, according to a Thursday announcement from the Rowan University Foundation board.

Created with $5 million in 2014 to seed promising startup ideas, the RIVF this summer received an additional $20 million from the foundation to back a growing portfolio of scalable businesses from within and outside the Rowan University community.

A 2000 Rowan graduate in business administration and finance who also studied international finance at Coventry University in the U.K. and entrepreneurship at Cornell University, Connallon has more than 20 years’ experience in the securities financing industry, driving business growth in New York, London and Hong Kong.

He is currently executive director and senior relationship manager with JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Agency Securities Finance business.

Connallon serves JPMorgan’s diversity, equity & inclusion efforts as the Americas co-lead of the community outreach and philanthropy work-stream, which aims to form sustainable and lasting partnerships with organizations and individuals to better connect, partner with and impact communities. He also chairs the Analyst and Associate Development Council for Securities Services, which helps shape the strategy for analyst and associate recruitment, training, development, engagement, wellness and retention. In addition, Connallon leads the Development School for Youth Planning committee, champions the Thomas G. Labrecque Smart Start Scholarship program and supports JPMorgan’s small business mentorship programs.

Prior to his work with JPMorgan, Connallon held positions with Goldman Sachs & Co.’s Prime Brokerage Group in New York and co-headed Goldman’s Fixed-Income Financing Desk in London.

A member of the Rowan University Foundation board since 2018, Connallon has served on the Investment and Finance/Audit committees and, since August 2020, as treasurer. He’s been a member of the RIVF board since 2021.

Connallon is also deeply committed to the work of Operation Water, a nonprofit that helps provide clean water solutions to the greatest number of people in need, at the lowest cost per person, by developing scalable infrastructure projects.

Since 2015, the RIVF has seeded 14 South Jersey-based and regional startups, many launched by university students and faculty, including HALFDAY Tonics, a line of healthful beverages now sold in more than 1,400 U.S retailers; ExpressCells, which uses CRISPR DNA technology to create cell lines for research; and MRIMath, a high-tech health science company co-founded by Rowan faculty.

“The RIVF is about helping the region economically,” Connallon said. “I look forward to applying my years of experience in finance and my knowledge of the university’s entrepreneurial culture to identify the best opportunities to invest in businesses with strong potential for growth.”

Rowan University President Ali Houshmand said Connallon’s background in finance, experience with the foundation and RIVF, and keen entrepreneurial mindset made him a natural choice as the new RIVF board chair.

“With the recent infusion of $20 million of additional funding, the RIVF is poised to make a tremendous impact on promising businesses across our region,” Houshmand said. “The funding team that evaluates these projects is very strong and we’re grateful to Mike for taking on this initiative for his alma mater. As businesses succeed, we expect the impact of our fund to grow even more.”