Today marks my one-year anniversary as the CEO and president of NMSDC. Frankly, it has been one of the hardest roles I’ve ever had. And yet, it is also the most fulfilling one. There has been a lot of listening, learning, strategizing, brainstorming, recruiting, coaching, communicating, collaborating, negotiating, multi-tasking, and problem solving. Each experience has helped me grow as a leader, a colleague, a partner, a friend, and a human being.
This past month I have been searching for one word that summarizes my first year and, after a lot of reflection, I’ve determined that one word is grateful.
I am grateful for the clear voice, guidance, and support of my team, our board members, regional and international affiliates, minority business enterprises (MBEs), corporate members, nongovernmental organization (NGO) and government partners, and of two icons in minority business development: Harriet Michel and Jim Lowry.
I am grateful to Marc Morial of National Urban League, Dave Steward of WWT, and Janice Bryant Howroyd of the ACTOne Group, for inspiring me and sharing their leadership lessons.
I am grateful to John W. Rogers Jr. of Ariel Investments, who took a leap of faith in us and championed our inaugural Minority Business Economic Forum.
I am particularly grateful to NMSDC chairman of the board, Jose Turkienicz, for believing in and coaching me every step of the way.
Last week, I had a fireside chat with Morgan Flatley, the chief marketing officer of McDonald’s, and one of the Forbes World’s Most Influential CMOs, at McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago. She asked me what surprised me the most during the first year. I shared with her that I was surprised we have so few resources to tackle one of the biggest challenges in our society.
I am grateful to the corporate members and MBEs that provided in-kind support and helped us fill in resource gaps for the past 12 months. Thanks to EY, McKinsey, Heidrick Struggles, Omnicom, Korn Ferry, Capital One, Ariel Investments, Magic Johnson Enterprises, Rose International, WWT, LightSpeedEdu, Lexico, Integrated Human Capital, and Republica Havas, just to name a few.
I am grateful to all those that provided us financial support. A shout out to WWT and MasTec for collectively making $3.5 million pledges to build our future.
I also told Morgan that we have the best untold stories. There is no other economic empowerment organization that can match what we have accomplished. NMSDC-certified MBEs generate ~$400 billion in annual economic output, 1.75 million jobs, $122 billion in U.S. wages, and $130 billion in revenue for tax authorities annually.
I am grateful to Chavonne Jones of FleishmanHillard, and the many others who are helping us tell our stories and those of our MBEs.
Most of all, I am grateful to my team for adapting to change and rising to the monumental challenges we faced during the past 12 months. It was rewarding to see several team members develop and progress into new roles and I was thrilled to welcome 12 new talents to our team. For the first time in NMSDC history, every ethnic group that NMSDC serves is represented on the leadership team! We get our best results when we bring diverse talents together and harness a range of perspectives and experiences to address the toughest challenges in front of us. I am proud of our accomplishments and am enormously grateful for where we are today.
Looking forward, I am excited to partner with you to build upon the great work and conversation around accelerating MBE growth to drive towards our goal of $1 trillion in certified-MBE revenue.
We must ask ourselves this question every single day: are we moving the needle enough toward economic parity for all? If the answer is yes:
Why did Black businesses receive only 1.67%, Hispanic businesses receive only 1.78%, and Asian Pacific American businesses receive only 1.23% of more than $559 billion in federal contracting?
Why are white households eight times wealthier than Black households and five times wealthier than Hispanic households today?
Why has the racial wealth gap increased by nearly 70% since the pandemic started.
These trends must stop now. We have the power to change. Let’s work together to tell our stories and tell our MBE stories. Let’s tap into new resources to invest in our institutional capabilities so we can do more, and better serve more MBEs and corporate members. Let’s remove frictions and unite on the common goal of driving generational wealth for systematically excluded communities of color and make their American dream a true reality for all.
I look forward to seeing you all at our 50th Anniversary Conference & Exchange where we will plan our future together.
Onward and forward!
CEO and President