Valerie Gardner, J.D., M.B.A.
Ms. Gardner co-founded Tiemann Investment Advisors with Jonathan Tiemann in 2002 and serves as a principal of the firm, which now has $250 million under management. Ms. Gardner first met Dr. Tiemann when they were both graduate students at Yale University, while she was earning her MBA from the Yale School of Management, jointly with a JD from Northeastern University School of Law, and he was working towards his Ph.D. in Finance. Ms. Gardner started her career in New York City’s Office of Economic Development working in debt financing. After a year, however, Ms. Gardner left to co-founded Willow Peripherals, Inc., with a team of hardware and software engineers. She served as Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel of this innovative high tech design, development and manufacturing company for six years, which introduced six award-winning video graphic multimedia add-in boards for personal computers and was called the “Kingpin of PC Video.”
Ms Gardner next joined New York Consulting Partners, a boutique spin-off from McKinsey & Co., which advised Fortune 500 manufacturers. Within a couple years, however, Ms Gardner’s urge to build another company compelled her to move to Silicon Valley, where she joined a new team of engineers working in video graphics. This group became WebTV Networks Inc., and released its “Internet on the TV” product in the spring of 1996, before being acquired by Microsoft in 1997. Ms. Gardner served as CFO and General Counsel for WebTV, and managed its acquisition and DOJ approval. Ms. Gardner then served as a VP for Microsoft through to early 2001. In 2002, she co-founded Tiemann Investment Advisors with Dr. Tiemann, whose expertise in managing Ms. Gardner’s highly concentrated portfolio during subsequent Internet market gyrations, provided the impetus to co-found a business with him to offer his institutional-caliber portfolio management services to high net worth investors.
The Internet bubble had spawned a plethora of ventures with sky high valuations and uncertain business models, the vast majority of which deflated soon after Ms. Gardner emerged from Microsoft. Still, surfing the Internet proved fascinating for Ms. Gardner, who quickly discovered just how serious the problem of carbon emissions had become for the climate. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, she had ready access to scientific experts at Stanford University, Berkeley, the NASA Ames Research Center and the National Academies and she made good use of these resources. By 2012, she began working with Dr. Tiemann to develop a unique, data-driven methodology for a post-“carbon priced” portfolio design, which would enable TIA to reduce carbon risk in custom portfolios. In researching carbon-free energy alternatives, Ms. Gardner evaluated the existing sources of non-emitting energy technologies and realized that she needed to learn more about the nuclear industry.
In 2014, TIA launched its Future Generations portfolio strategy, offering clients a way to substantially reduce carbon risk from their portfolio without lessening their energy sector exposure, unlike most other ESG-oriented fund approaches, by replacing fossil fuel securities with clean energy alternatives, including nuclear. Following the first White House Forum on Nuclear Energy in 2015, Ms. Gardner attended the first Annual Advanced Nuclear Summit in D.C. There she met a number of the young founders of innovative nuclear companies working to develop advanced nuclear technologies. Not only were these companies working to improve efficiencies in the capture of heat from nuclear fission to meet humanity’s burgeoning energy needs, they were also addressing the panoply of serious concerns that had been raised about light water reactors over the decades. Best of all, it was clear that advanced nuclear was supported by a bipartisan contingent of elected officials. Ms. Gardner began to explore the avenues for investing in private companies innovating in advanced nuclear technologies and, in early 2018 she co-founded Nucleation Capital, LP to pursue this opportunity.