In honor of US Black History Month, MarketVoice asked scholars from the Greenwood Project to talk about the individuals who have influenced and inspired them – from historical figures to professionals in the financial industry making history right now.
The Greenwood Project is a Chicago-based non-profit organization, supported by FIA that creates career pathways for high achieving Black, Latinx and underrepresented students in the financial services industry through exposure, education, and internship experiences.
Darnell Glover became involved with the Greenwood Project in 2018 as a college senior at DePaul University where he earned his bachelor's degree in accounting with a focus on audit. Through the Greenwood Project, he secured a summer internship at Cboe, which led to full-time employment in Cboe Global Markets' internal audit department.
I have two main sources of influence and inspiration: My dad (Darnell Glover Sr.), and Bevon Joseph, co-founder of the Greenwood Project. Both exemplify being a strong man of color who has worked hard for success while doing everything he can to give back to friends, family and the community. This is exactly the type of man I aspire to be as I progress through life.
Both men have been mentors to me, providing opportunities for me to succeed both personally and professionally, while also being a source of encouragement and counseling. To me, these two men represent the type of Black excellence we should celebrate during Black History Month.
Tenajah Eldridge is a high school senior who was enrolled as a student on the Greenwood Project Financial Institute program in the summer of 2021.
As a young Black woman, Ava DuVernay’s ability to become a leader within the film industry and use her platform to advocate for what she believes in inspires me.
Growing up, I was always inspired by the stories I saw on screen despite rarely ever seeing myself represented; however, I have learned that representation goes beyond the screen itself. Ava DuVernay has broken barriers in an industry dominated by white men, giving breath to Black stories and control over our own narratives.
Her films concerning racial injustice towards Black Americans transcend artistic realms and can be categorized as a form of activism. Ava DuVernay has inspired me to unapologetically advocate for my community and defy barriers.
Journee Lockridge is majoring in finance with a concentration in entrepreneurship at Howard University. She has been a Greenwood Project scholar and intern since 2018.
Madam C.J. Walker is somebody who I have always looked up to because of her entrepreneurial drive. She was the first Black woman millionaire in America who made her fortune through her homemade line of hair care products for Black women. I see her as a game-changer, an innovator; she was one of the most trailblazing women of her time. Growing up, I wanted to get into business with the end goal of owning my own business because of Madam C.J. Walker.
In the financial world, it is Mellody Hobson, the president and co-CEO of Ariel Investments. I remember first learning about her from a teacher after I told him my aspirations. He said, "So you want to be the next Mellody Hobson?" I had heard her name before, but I was not aware of the accolades and all that she had accomplished. She is a woman from Chicago; I'm from Chicago, so I really related to that. She worked her way up from being an intern to being the co-CEO of Aerial Investments. That is inspiring. It shows me that through all the work I have put into being an intern since my junior high school days, I could, one day, be a CEO or have my own firm.
My biggest inspiration of all is my mother. She was the first woman I watched and admired, especially raising three girls on her own. She inspires me every day to work hard and to aim high.
Greenwood Project scholar Geowayne Williams-Mays is a compliance examiner at the National Futures Association.
When speaking about someone who has inspired me and continues to inspire me, Bevon Joseph, the founder of the Greenwood Project, is the first person who comes to mind. As a proud Greenwood Project scholar, I will forever be grateful for the opportunities the Greenwood Project has provided me and grateful to the man who gave me the chance.
Bevon is the reason I have a full-time job as a compliance examiner at the National Futures Association – an organization I was introduced to through the Greenwood Project. The first time I ever flew on a plane was with Bevon; the reason I stayed in the College of Business at my university is because of Bevon and his guidance. The Greenwood Project opens doors for students with great potential; Bevon and Elois [Elois Joseph, co-founder of the Greenwood Project] are often the first people to give us a legitimate chance. I look forward to the future because I know these past four years are just the beginning thanks to Bevon and the Greenwood Project.