Family and friends vow to seek justice for her death and are determined to continue her legacy of community service
People close to her say Michelle Annette Avan was a loving mother, grandmother and friend to all who knew her. She was recently promoted to senior vice president, Head of Global Women’s and Under-represented Talent Strategy and served on the Global Human Resources leadership team (see Sentinel article on 6/24/2021), and was dedicated personally in her role with the bank in developing talent and uplifting those in the community, supporting them in reaching their highest levels of achievement.
The consensus echoes a similar praise of Avan; she was much more than just a rising star in the banking industry, this determined leader utilized her role and the resources within the bank to uplift an entire community, helping break down the barriers that have traditionally been denied to women and people of color. Avan was a woman of service and had recently been nominated to serve on the board of the Los Angeles Urban League. She previously served as a board member for the USC Black Alumni Association, as well as the Centre Theater Group, and the International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute (IBWPPI).
According to Tracy Mitchell, every year, without fail, Avan spearheaded her team of employees at Bank of America to purchase backpacks and fill them with school supplies out of their own pockets for the annual Mothers In Action’s Annual Back to School Healthfair & Supply Giveaway. “This year was no different. Special thanks to Michelle Avan and the employees at Bank of America. May her beautiful, giving soul rest in peace. Her living was not in vain. She spread her love, kindness and infectious smiles with everyone she met. Prayers of peace and comfort for her family, friends and co-workers, said Mitchell, president of Mothers in Action.
“’I’m Ready … I love you,’ were Michelle’s last words to me on Monday, July 26, the day before I left for Ghana, Africa. We ended the 90-minute call with such joy. It was different from our previous call a few weeks before when she was grieving the death of her beloved father. She was ready for her fresh start, her new way forward. I believed her. I had come to know her over the eight years of our working together and being in service together. We were thinking partners. Michelle never missed an opportunity to tell the world about our special relationship. Now, it is my turn. Keeping her legacy and dreams alive has moved to the top of my list,” stated Barbara Perkins, co-founder and president of IBWPPI.
On Monday August 9, 2021, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon filed first degree murder and residential burglary charges against Anthony Duwayne Turner. District Attorney Gascon said in a statement, “Ms. Avan was a leader in our community and this senseless act of violence has resulted in a significant loss to us all.”
Turner, also a Bank of America executive, was arrested as a suspect in connection with the slaying Avan, a prominent executive at Bank of America who was a champion in helping people of color seek careers in the financial services industry.
Family members became concerned of Avan’s welfare when she could not be reached over a lengthy period. A family member found Avan (48) dead and brutally beaten on Thursday morning at her home and immediately contacted authorities.
LAPD detectives arrested Anthony Duane Turner on Thursday afternoon, within hours of Avan being found dead near his home in Westchester on suspicion of murdering her.
Turner was booked and was being held at LAPD’s Valley Jail Section according to booking records and bail has been set at $2,000,000. Turner pleaded “Not Guilty” at his arraignment hearing on Monday.
With well over 50 friends and family members in attendance, including her son and daughter at Monday’s hearing, family members were outraged when Turner’s attorney described him as “a pillar of the community and deserved to be released on bail.” As of Sentinel press time, Turner is still in police custody.
“We are devastated,” Bank of America said in a statement. “Michelle was a valued member of our company for more than 20 years and will be greatly missed. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family.”
Keisha Nix, who started her career along with Avan over twenty years ago at Merrill Lynch and who was one of her closest friends stated, “Michelle was a bright light. She was one of the most humble C-Suite executives we have ever seen. She didn’t ask you or expect you to do anything she wasn’t willing to do herself. She led by example. Her legacy will live on through her family and all of the seeds she planted in our community.”
In 2019, Avan was the recipient of the Los Angeles Sentinel’s Corporate Leadership Award as one of the most Powerful and Influential Black Women Leaders in Los Angeles. The award recognized her for her leadership and commitment to the community as well as her work to mentor youth, particularly Black women and girls.
The Avan family has not released information regarding her “Celebration of Life” event but did confirm that the family is planning to host a celebration in Los Angeles, but is also planning to host a celebration in Miami, Florida, where Avan was born and still has a large contingency of family, friends and loved ones.
Further information will be posted to www.lasentinel.net as more information becomes available.
Sentinel Contributing Writer Betti Halsell contributed to this report.
The story has been updated from the original published version.