This month the staff and board of directors of Innovate Mississippi learned of the passing of one of our own, Richard A. Sun, a former board president and our first-ever Entrepreneur-in-Residence.
While active with Innovate Mississippi, Rich also co-founded the Mississippi Coding Academies (MCA) in partnership with Innovate Mississippi and the Mississippi Development Authority. Rich brought experience, determination and leadership to the team that built MCA into a successful EdTech startup, graduating over 100 coders out of hourly-wage jobs into technology careers.
Rich wasn’t a native Mississippian, but he took a huge interest in the state’s success after moving here to cap a successful career in investment banking, including stints for Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, CS First Boston, UBS, and in a variety of private equity roles. He put his own money and talent into early-stage startups through his firm, Sun & Co.
Even as the Mississippi Coding Academies saw considerable success, Rich led the efforts to gain national recognition for the “The Enhanced Mississippi Model for EdTech.” As a result, MIT Solve and the X-PRIZE Rapid Reskilling Challenge celebrated the work he and the MCA team have done with “Top 10” accolades in 2021.
Rich also served as chair and president of Mississippi Codeworks, Inc., the wholly-owned subsidiary of MCA, to develop custom software web and mobile apps for local and national clients. Mississippi Codeworks employs MCA graduates in real-world tasks to meet the market’s demands while helping those recent graduates gain valuable work experience and skills.
Mississippi has lost a dedicated leader who saw enormous potential in Mississippi’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its ability to improve life in Mississippi for all its people. The entire Innovate Mississippi team has Rich’s wife, Dr. Phyllis Hollenbeck, his two sons, and their extended family in our thoughts and prayers at this heartbreaking time.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 9th, at St. James Episcopal Church, 3921 Oak Ridge Drive, Jackson MS.