CFTC's Johnson offers advice to Greenwood Project scholars

Commissioner Johnson discusses diversity through sponsorship

9 August 2023


On 8 August, FIA helped to facilitate a discussion between Commissioner Kristin N. Johnson of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and Greenwood Project high school scholars. The Greenwood Project provides outreach to students interested in pursuing careers in financial services. 

Commissioner Kristin N. Johnson
Commissioner Kristin N. Johnson

Executive director of the Greenwood Project, Kwesi Smith, facilitated the discussion on Johnson’s upbringing and career. The Commissioner shared her advice on building a strong professional foundation, navigating culture shock, and more.  

As the first in her family to graduate from college and then law school, Johnson reflected on how she did not come from a background of financial industry knowledge. This meant that, unlike others who grew up with families working in this industry, she did not have a head start in pursuing this career path. This led to developing “a certain amount of grit, which means you can buckle up and get things done.” 

Johnson encouraged the students to pursue experiences outside their comfort zone. “Learn to be comfortable when you are not comfortable,” she said, adding. “The world is still adapting to your presence, and I promise you it will.”  

Smith shifted the discussion to addressing and rising above the culture shock and microaggressions that may occur in a predominantly white industry. Johnson warned that microaggressions can happen in multiple spaces at the same time. She said it helps to focus on what you are producing and how it reflects on you, rather than allowing the environment to hold you back. “Growth is have to decide on the values that you will carry forward.”  

Commissioner Johnson and Greenwood Project scholars
Commissioner Johnson and Greenwood Project scholars

Johnson concluded by highlighting the importance of sponsorship, stating that building relationships that can lead to sponsorship is critical. Sponsors “need to go into a room and fight for you to have an opportunity when you are not in the room.” Sponsorship is a strong tool that can help create a smoother path for people of all backgrounds to achieve success. 

FIA is a proud partner of the Greenwood Project, a non-profit focused on introducing Black and Latinx students to careers within the financial industry via paid summer internships in financial firms, academic instruction and mentorships. 

Get more information about the Greenwood Project here. 

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