Age: 38, Co-Founder and Managing Director 
RLJ Equity Partners, Bethesda, Md.

Born to Haitian parents, Daphne Dufresne pursued the American dream with vigor, benefiting from prestigious programs that helped to shape her personally and professionally, including A Better Chance, INROADS, The City Fellow-ships, Kaufman Fellows and the Robert Toigo Foundation. Dufresne is a mentor to many minority and women professionals interested in private equity. “It’s a difficult industry to gain entry and having someone to guide and navigate your path is imperative. I try to provide that guidance for others,” she says.

Dufresne is a founding partner and managing director of RLJ Equity Partners, a private equity firm established by BET founder Robert L. Johnson and The Carlyle Group. She is one of five members of the firm’s Investment Committee and is a board member of portfolio companies LAI International and chairman of Fleischmann’s Vinegar Co. “Private equity is exciting because it is a business of ownership. You use all aspects of your intellect and personality and ultimately your ability is very measurable,” says Dufresne. Prior to RLJ Equity Partners, Dufresne was a venture partner with Parish Capital Advisors and a principal at Weston Presidio, a multibillion dollar private equity firm. She has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in business administration from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business. 

Married with two children, Dufresne is a board member for the Center for Venture Education (Kauffman Fellows Program), City Fellowships Program, and an advisory board member of the HBS Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. Hers is a life packed, by design, with high professional achievement and personal giveback. “I want to create a legacy of both founding a successful African-American private equity firm and building a successful Black family,” she says.

Fun Facts

Favorite food: Caribbean food
Countries visited: Haiti, Morocco, Scotland
Sport you play best: Track & field
Favorite book/author: Power Plays by John Whitney
Favorite Comedian: Chris Rock
Favorite charity: A Better Chance, Inc.