2014 FWA Honorees: Martina Hund-Mejean, CFO of MasterCard and Vicki L. Fuller, CIO of the New York State Common Retirement Fund
Five hundred professionals celebrated the progress exemplified by the honorees of the Financial Women’s Association 30th Anniversary of the Women of the Year Awards, who also heard a stirring call to renew and redouble their work to create greater opportunities for future generations of women in finance.
“Through this annual celebration, we’ve honored significant leaders in our industry who have inspired and motivated us over the past 30 years, while we focus our fundraising on our acclaimed FWA educational and mentoring initiatives that have reached more than 5,000 young professionals and students,” FWA President Kimberly Weinrick told the audience. “When we join forces, and reach a hand to those who need it, we can really make things happen.”
As an example, 100 percent of the FWA’s high school mentees graduate high school and go on to attend college, compared with the New York City-wide percentage of about 66 – underscoring how FWA Members make a positive difference for future professionals. Such efforts follow the path blazed by pioneers such as Joan Williams Farr, one of the eight founding members of the FWA in 1956, who was in attendance and recognized; and the late Muriel F. Siebert, an FWA Member and 1994 FWA Honoree.
The FWA paid tribute to Ms Seibert’s legacy in showing one of her final interviews in an excerpt of the Documentary Makers.
The 2014 honorees – Martina Hund-Mejean, CFO of MasterCard and Vicki L. Fuller, CIO of the New York State Common Retirement Fund and – spoke of their respective paths to achievement as well as the continuing need to create a more inclusive, diverse workplace for women on Wall Street and in financial roles across other industries.
“I congratulate FWA on the transformational work they do and have been doing. From the group’s humble and courageous beginning in 1956 to this very moment, the Financial Women’s Association has been making a difference—for women, and men. For students and adults. For people of all socioeconomic backgrounds,” Ms. Fuller told the audience at New York City’s Grand Hyatt.
“I have seen many encouraging, exciting changes. But one thing has not changed fast enough: There is still not enough diversity on Wall Street,” Ms. Fuller added, “And worse, this means the managers of money, for the most part, continue to not look like the people who have entrusted the money to the managers. It’s just plain good business to have this change fully realized.”
Ms. Hund-Mejean also gave poignant remarks comparing the familiar paths of the FWA mentees with her own, coming to the U.S. as a young woman from Germany, only with the benefit of scholarships and mentoring programs to pursue the possibility of education, training and ultimately an exciting and fulfilling career. She and her husband, Bruno Mejean, lead a Foundation that provides economic support to young Moroccan females pursuing higher education.
The theme was reinforced by two of the FWA’s mentees. Kaiv Abreu, a senior at Murry Bergtraum High School who spoke of growing up in poverty in Puerto Rico and later picking up skills thanks to the FWA’s business etiquette training; the FWA’s time management and communications programs that have also helped her give back to the community, prepare for college and a career in international relations; and to ultimately “have the confidence to join any table.” She noted her appreciation to the FWA and Patricia Lucey.
The featured college mentee, Halina Karatayeva, from Belarus, said she came to the United States without a place to live, and her first job was handing out fliers on a street corner. At Baruch College, she joined the FWA mentoring program and “thanks to the program and my mentor Marline Alexander, I learned the value of networking” and presenting herself well. In part due to these programs, she is now working for a major financial firm.
Among the attendees was Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, who issued a Proclamation declaring “FWA Appreciation Day” in the borough. Additionally, in attendance were representatives of the FWA’s President’s Circle Program – companies that partner with the FWA to support its mission. They include: Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, UFJ, BMO Capital Markets, BNP Paribas, BNY Melon, Colgate- Palmolive Company, Delta Air Lines, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, McGraw Hill Financial, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America Corporation, MetLife, Morgan Stanley, NY Life, UBS, TIAA-CREF, Wells Fargo Advisors, SAP, Prudential Financial Inc., RBC Capital Markets, and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
About the Financial Women’s Association
Founded in 1956, the Financial Women’s Association provides a forum to help advance the leadership of women in the financial community. The FWA provides opportunities for women to build their careers, meet industry leaders, earn the support of powerful women and major companies, and contribute to the next generation of female leaders. The FWA’s philanthropic activities include mentoring, scholarships and development programs for more than 5,000 young people. For more about the FWA, please visit: fwa.org