2020 FSP Annual Summit
Dr. Helene Gayle
Helene D. Gayle has been president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, since October 2017. Under her leadership, the Trust has adopted a new strategic focus on closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the Chicago region.
For almost a decade, she was president and CEO of CARE, a leading international humanitarian organization. An expert on global development, humanitarian and health issues, Dr. Gayle spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control, retiring at the rank of Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General. She also led the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues. She has authored numerous articles on global and domestic public health issues, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and social justice.
Dr. Gayle was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. She earned a B.A. in psychology at Barnard College, an M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and an M.P.H. at Johns Hopkins University. She has received 18 honorary degrees and holds faculty appointments at the University of Washington and Emory University. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Medicine and Council on Foreign Relations. She serves on public company and nonprofit boards, including The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, New America, the ONE Campaign, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Economic Club of Chicago.
John W. Rogers, Jr.
John W. Rogers, Jr. is Founder, Chairman, Co-Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Ariel Investments. After working for 2½ years at William Blair & Company, LLC, John founded Ariel Investments in 1983 to focus on undervalued small and medium-sized companies. The Ariel Fund is the number-one ranked fund among its peer group.
Early in his career, John’s investment expertise brought him to the forefront of media attention, including being selected as Co-Mutual Fund Manager of the Year by Sylvia Porter’s Personal Finance magazine as well as an All- Star Mutual Fund Manager by USA TODAY.
A sought-after market commentator and speaker, John is regularly featured and quoted in a wide variety of financial broadcast and print publications.
John is a board member of McDonald’s, NIKE, The New York Times Company and serves as vice chair of the board of trustees of the University of Chicago. Nationally, John is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a director of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.
In 2008, John was awarded Princeton University’s highest honor, the Woodrow Wilson Award, presented each year to the alumnus or alumna whose career embodies a commitment to national service. Following the election of President Barack Obama, he served as co-chair for the Presidential Inaugural Committee 2009, and more recently, he joined the Barack Obama Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Bess has designed and conducted research on the workplace experience overall, and diversity, equity and inclusion specifically, for over 25 years. She has been with Mercer since 2005.
Bess works with a wide range of organizations to help them explore key issues such as belonging, perceptions of fairness and equity, career development and progression, leadership, culture, talent practices, and communication. She works with public and private sector organizations, as well as non-profit organizations and industry associations.
Recent projects include research exploring employee experiences, talent practices, and DEI strategy development for technology, retail, production, healthcare, non-profit, and financial services organizations. Bess is one of the lead researchers and authors of the 2015 FSP study of attraction, retention, career progression, and leadership representation among African Americans and Latinos in Chicago’s financial services industry.
Bess holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational psychology from Baruch College of the City University of New York.
Rick co-leads Mercer’s Workforce Sciences Institute, a research and innovation center, and works with clients on a wide range of workforce issues, including issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As a researcher, one of Rick’s earliest professional publications addressed gender discrimination in the workplace and more recently he has contributed a chapter on workplace diversity to the Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism. In 2019, Rick provided testimony in a hearing of the U. S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion.
Prior to joining Mercer in 1997, Rick was a Professor of Psychology and Management at the University of Maryland. Rick earned a BS degree at The Ohio State University in 1974 and a Ph.D. at Yale University in Administrative Sciences in 1979. He is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
Yemi Akisanya is a Principal and Head of Diversity & Inclusion at OCC, the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing organization and the foundation for secure markets. In this role, he leads OCC’s strategic planning efforts related to Diversity & Inclusion. He is focused on creating short- and long-term plans to help build a more diverse and inclusive workplace and positive corporate culture.
Previously at OCC, Yemi served as a Product Development Manager and Senior Quality Assurance Analyst. Prior to joining OCC, Yemi held positions as Senior Analyst of CME Group and JP Morgan Chase. He serves on the Board of Directors for i.c.stars, a program that provides technology-based workforce development, leadership training, and access to career opportunities for low-income adults in the Chicagoland area.
He also serves on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group of Kellogg School of Management, as well as on the Advisory Board of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Yemi is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management MBA program. He also holds a Master of Science in Communication degree from Northwestern University. He graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL, with a B.A. in Management Information Systems; while there, also captained the college football team.
Sandra Pesic is an Information Security Officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago with an 18-year career in security. In her current role, she leads the design and implementation of the cyber security strategy and risk. Throughout her career, Sandra has specialized in developing comprehensive cyber security programs that focus on cyber intelligence, incident response, security operations, vulnerability management, data leakage, insider threat and cyber forensics. Throughout this journey, she has been one of the few women and Latinas in this field. Now as a leader, she focuses her efforts on building a team of inclusive and diverse specialists that include women and persons from underrepresented groups.
Rodrigo Garcia, CTP®, AIF® is the deputy state treasurer and chief investment officer for Illinois State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs. He directs the treasury’s combined $35 billion investment portfolio, $300 billion in related banking operations and financial services, and a ~$4 billion agency budget and financial services unit. In this leadership role, Rodrigo leverages financial innovation, investment stewardship, corporate governance, stakeholder capitalism and equity, diversity, and inclusion to maximize investment returns and bolster the Illinois macro and micro-economies. He is an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University, an Aspen Global Finance Fellow and a recent TEDx speaker. He also is a Certified Treasury Professional (CTP®), an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®), and holds SASB’s FSA credential.
Ela Aktay is a writer and certified meditation instructor whose mission is to help people lead less stressful and more mindful lives.
Melissa Donaldson is a trailblazer, strategist, change agent and a staunch advocate for leadership, equity, inclusion, and reinforcing humanity in business. Reporting to CEO Ed Wehmer, she is the first to be appointed Chief Diversity Officer at Wintrust Financial Corporation, a commercial banking and specialty financial service company with over $32 billion in assets. Under her coined masthead “One Wintrust Diversity & Inclusion Roadmap,” Melissa partners with executives, Boards of Directors and other key stakeholders to establish inclusive initiatives and priorities aimed at driving business success, enhancing employee engagement and positioning Wintrust as an employer of choice and responsible corporate citizen. Her experience also includes leading diversity and inclusion strategy for Walgreens and CDW. A proud Ohioan, Melissa serves on the boards of Chicago Sinfonietta and Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, and holds degrees from Northwestern University (MSC), Central Michigan University (MSA) and Wright State University (BS, Management Science).
Andrés is a Senior Partner and Global DE&I Strategist at Korn Ferry; his clients are global and span across all industries including non-profits and universities. He was previously the President of Diversity Best Practices; the Chief Diversity Officer at Hewitt Associates; and a Learning and Development leader at Hewitt Consulting. Andrés also worked at CSC and Andersen Consulting. Prior to his corporate career, he was a fulltime journalist. Andrés has continued writing as a DE&I thought leader; his books include “The Inclusion Paradox: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity,” “Auténtico: The Definitive Guide to Latino Career Success” (co-authored), and “The Five Disciplines of Inclusive Leadership: Unleashing the Power of All of Us” (co-authored, pub date: Oct 20, 2020). Andrés holds a BA in History (Latin America and US) with deep course work in political economy and journalism from Northwestern University. He serves as a trustee to Ravinia Festival and as a Board member to Leadership Greater Chicago. Andrés grew up in Lima, Perú, is married to his wife, Lori, and has one daughter, Marisela, who is a professional flamenco dancer.
Keynote Speaker: John Hope Bryant
John Hope Bryant is an American entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, and prominent thought leader on financial inclusion, economic empowerment and financial dignity. Mr. Bryant is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Operation HOPE, Inc. the largest non-profit, best-in-class provider of financial literacy, and economic empowerment services in the United States for youth and adults. He is also the Chairman and CEO of Bryant Group Ventures and Founder and Principal of The Promise Homes Company, which is the largest minority-controlled owner of single-family rental homes in the U.S. The last five U.S. presidents have recognized his work, and he has served as an advisor to the last three sitting U.S. presidents from both political parties. He is responsible for financial literacy becoming the policy of the U.S. federal government. John Hope Bryant has been named as one of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s The Power 100 Most Influential Atlantans 2020, and Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “Most Admired CEOs” in 2018, American Banker magazine’s 2016 “Innovator of the Year”, and one of Time magazine’s “50 Leaders for the Future.” He has received hundreds of awards and citations for his work, including Oprah Winfrey’s Use Your Life Award, and the John Sherman Award for Excellence in Financial Education from the U.S. Treasury. Mr. Bryant also received an honorable mention in Inc. magazine’s “The World’s 10 Top CEOs” article that spotlights global servant leaders as the visionaries behind some of the most successful organizations.
Matthew R. Feldman
Matthew Feldman became President and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago in April 2008. He has been with the Bank since September of 2003 and has served in several executive capacities, including Chief Risk Officer and Executive Vice President, Operations and Technology.
Prior to his employment with the Bank, Mr. Feldman was Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Insights, Inc. from 1995 to 2003. Mr. Feldman conceived, established, financed and directed the operations of this privately held e-learning company. Mr. Feldman was previously President of Continental Trust Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Continental Bank, and served in a number of other roles in capital markets, investments and general management during his 15 years there.
Mr. Feldman holds degrees from Case Western Reserve University and the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University; he is a life-member of the Kellogg Global Advisory Board.
Cedric D. Thurman
Cedric D. Thurman joined the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago (FHLBC) in the newly created position of Senior Vice President/Chief Diversity Officer in September 2018. In this role, Cedric is responsible for shaping the culture to provide opportunities for all employees and help FHLBC be a catalyst for change for its member institutions and the communities they serve.
Prior to joining FHLBC, Cedric was the Founder and CEO of Talks Inc., a not for profit organization being developed to provide life skills programming for youth via video-based conversations. Prior to developing Talks Inc., Cedric served as the US Head of Inclusion at BMO Harris Bank. Prior to re-joining BMO Harris, Cedric spent 14 years at JLL in office and retail brokerage capacities, as well as leading HR strategy for the Americas region. Cedric also served as JLL’s first Chief Diversity Officer, where he created and implemented a multi-year, multi-phased strategic plan that defined, assessed, nurtured and cultivated a culture of diversity and inclusion.
Cedric is very active in Chicago’s civic community. He currently serves on the Governing Board of UCAN, where is Vice Chair and also Chairs the Diversity Advisory Board; Advisory Board of Urban Initiatives; Chair of the University of Illinois Gies College of Business Dean’s Business Council; University of Illinois Gies College of Business Alumni Association Board, where he serves as Scholarship Committee Chair; Board of Directors, University of Illinois Alumni Association, where he serves as Chair of the Finance Committee; member of the President’s Council for the Museum of Science and Industry, where he currently serves as Co-Chair for the Museum’s Black Creativity program; Co-Chair of the Financial Services Pipeline Initiative, and Commissioner, Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) of the Supreme Court of Illinois, where he serves as Chair of the Talent Management and Engagement Committee.
Cedric has been recognized for his professional accomplishments by Diversity MBA Magazine as one of the Top 100 Executives Under 50, Savoy Magazine as one of the Top Diversity Executives, Kellogg School of Management’s Black Management Association as Alumnus of the Year, Chicago Defender Men of Excellence, UCAN Diversity Advocate of the Year and twice recognized in Who’s Who in Black Chicago.
Cedric holds an M.B.A. in Management Strategy and Marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a B.S. in Finance from the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign.
Cedric is married to Michelle Speller-Thurman, an M&A attorney at Abbott Labs, and also a proud graduate of the University of Illinois Gies College of Business and Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law. They are the proud parents of a son, Alexander, a graduate of St. Louis University, who works in advertising/PR.