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Who are the two in the winner’s circle?

Interviews from the ECNY Racial Equity Series

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The Economics Club of New York (ECNY) is to be commended for outstanding programming in its racial equity series. The program included leaders in diverse industries with powerful and compelling stories. Two of the recent interviews were with the new NYC Department of Small Business Services Commissioner and the Co-CEO and President of Ariel Investments, LLC.

Jonnel Doris is the New Commissioner for the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS). His story is one of an entrepreneur, advocate, and public servant. Commissioner Doris shared how he and his team increased the number of minority and women-owned businesses that were certified. He discussed the challenge of minority business sustainability and the reasons why the strategies of the past will not serve us well in the future. He talked about the impact of predatory lending on the community of black businesses. The Commissioner talked about his own experiences with business loans and the unfavorable terms that need to be more flexible.

Commissioner Doris shared his hope for the future in public/ private collaborations. ” Commissioner Doris said, “When the government and the private sector work together you build public confidence.” Master Card, Goldman Sachs, & Ernst and Young are collaborating together with SBS to help sustain more minority businesses in the future.

Mellody Hobson is the Co-CEO president of Ariel Investment LLC. Mellody tells her story in an authentic voice of how she was poor and raised in a single-parent home. She was a high achiever and had her choice between two ivy league institutions – she chose Princeton and that choice led her to a journey of achievements and relationships of almost fairy tale proportions.

Mellody shared that she was identified as the next president of her company but was too young for the job — and how her mentor prepared her for 5 years. She shared how she “dripped” her way onto a board seat on Starbucks through persistence and maintaining connections. She also shared that she never felt like a token because she worked hard and was prepared. A memorable quote was, “My mom told me to become indispensable so that they couldn’t fire me.” Mellody’s mom helped her not only to survive — but to also thrive.

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