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Rev. Jackson Closes 18th Annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit
By Sentinel News Service
Published January 24, 2015

Rev. Jesse Jackson and World Bank Group, President, Jim Yong Kim, M.D., PhD. at the Thursday WSP Awards Luncheon. (Margot Jordan)

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson’s 18th Annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit, “Where Wall Street, Main Street & Silicon Valley Converge,” concluded this week in New York City with more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, ministers, corporate board members, chief investment officers, African leaders, lenders and elected officials. The culmination of the Summit was the Awards Luncheon which featured World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, M.D., Ph.D. who answered questions about how the World Bank assist more than 120 countries in connecting jobs with young people, matching soft skills jobs with the private sector and manage how agriculture is key to the success in feeding people.

“This year’s Summit was designed to connect Wall Street, Main Street and Silicon Valley to bring about an increase in business and employment opportunities for women and people of color in technology, said Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and organizer of the Wall Street Project. “We had measurable results this year with the expansion and collaboration of Intel $300 Million Diversity Investment Fund; Black Enterprise’s release of the 40 most diverse companies and increasing the bottom line for entrepreneurs; and Expertise Does Not Equal Equality. There is no talent deficit, only an opportunity deficit – diversity and inclusion must continue to grow and it’s our continuous platform.”

The importance of embracing diversity at the corporate level is essential as it’s the key for increased financial growth said Earl G. “Butch” Graves, Jr., President & CEO of Black Enterprise and moderator of The Role of Corporate Boards When Driving Diversity session. “It’s important to note that it was only 44 years ago in 1971 that the first African American was appointed to a corporate board and that was Leon H. Sullivan when he joined the General Motors company board.”

Bruce Gordon, former NAACP President & CEO, added “I honestly believe and it has been proven that diverse companies out-perform companies that are not diverse.” “A company has to look for diversity. But, we as communities also have to look for companies that will embrace diversity,” said John W. Rogers, Jr., Chairman & CEO of Ariel Investments, LLC.

As the summit continued, ministers gathered at the session, Faith & Community Leaders, to discuss what faith-based communities can do to promote financial literacy as a means to achieve economic justice. These faith leaders also examined how they can effectively work with banking institutions on partnerships that stabilize and invest in their communities and create housing, businesses and jobs.

Robert L. Silva, Jr., AVP, Regional Diverse Segments Manager at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, encouraged the ministers to become financially educated to prevent foreclosures. “The banks are not in a position to stop foreclosures because there is a secondary entity which needs to receive their monies,” Silva said. “Learn to downsize, readjust and even sell the property if your income has been substantially decreased.”

The session, Focus on Africa: African Economic Expansion Forum, served as a follow up of last year’s “Africa Investment Opportunities Forum,” and the recent Inaugural “African Economic Expansion Summit” held in Durban South Africa. Panelists discussed Africa’s continuing tremendous business opportunities, not only in oil, gas and natural resources, but also in areas such as energy, telecommunications, technology, entertainment, construction, financial services, and tourism. The forum also provided an opportunity to outline U.S. trade policy towards Africa.

“U.S. businesses need to be aware of what the opportunities are in Africa and what tools are available to take advantage of those opportunities,” said Jeannine B. Scott, President/Presidente U.S.-Angola Chamber of Commerce (USACC).

During the session, Chief Investment Officers, leaders held a conversation about the challenges they face and how diversity can serve as an asset. “The challenges are to combine social and political expectations,” said Vicki Fuller, CIO at New York State Common Retirement Fund. “Diversity of thought is necessary to achieve higher than average returns.”

Scott C. Evans, CFA, Deputy Comptroller for Asset Management & CIO at the Office of the New York City Comptroller, added: “The investment management business is not diverse.”

Attendees interested in learning how to successfully navigate the internet and Google packed the session, Succeed on the Web and with Google.

The Investing in Communities session was packed with lenders, elected officials, civic and faith leaders, community development corporations who discussed various paths to access capital. These leaders examined public-private partnerships that could help to create initiatives and programs that stabilize the community, and focus the development of housing, businesses and jobs.

The Wall Street Project Awards Luncheon featured World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. The Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, Pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City; Hon. Nkosinath Benson Fihla, Executive Mayor, Nelson Mandela bay Metro – South Africa; and Dr. Lonnie G. Johnson, President & Chief Executive Officer, Excellatron who were honored for their outstanding contributions to the community and civil rights.

After paying special tribute to his father, RainbowPUSH National Spokesperson Jonathan Jackson, said: “We need to have a collective understanding to succeed with the Wall Street Project. There are so many more doors that need to be open.”

“We will not be satisfied until we democratize our economy and our voting process,” added Rev. Jackson. Closing the 18th Annual Wall Street Economic Summit today, Rev. Jackson added the work doesn’t end with the Summit. With the establishment of Intel’s $300 million diversity investment fund, he says follow up and execution is the next step. He is gearing up to work alongside the World Bank to further increase their diversity efforts on providing capital to poverty stricken countries in Africa; the fourth movement of the freedom symphony to provide access to capital, deal flow and increase minority participation in the technology industry. 

The Honorary Co-chairs for this year’s Summit included: Cloves C. Campbell, Jr., Chair, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), Cynthia D. DiBartolo, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, Tigress Financial Partners LLC and Chairperson, Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, Earl G. (Butch) Graves, Jr., President & Chief Executive Officer, Black Enterprise, Alfred C. Liggins, Chief Executive Officer and President, Radio One, Inc./TV One, LLC, The Honorable Charles B. Rangel, U.S. Representative, D-NY 13th Congressional District, James Reynolds, Jr., Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Loop Capital Markets, John W. Rogers, Jr., Chairman, CEO & Chief Investment Officer, Ariel Investments, LLC, and Clifford C. Swint, Executive Vice President, Capital Markets, MFR Securities, Inc.

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The full agenda can be found online at www.rainbowpushwallstreetproject.org. 

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