The NEIU Social Justice Leadership Housing Award
The social unrest across our nation prompted me to re-examine our companies’ hiring practices and general opportunities within the framework of social justice. In this context, I’ve had the extreme privilege of working with the President’s Cabinet of Northeastern Illinois University. We are proud to have had a small role in designing economic models to support their Social Justice Leadership Housing Award. The NEIU Social Justice Leadership Housing Award provides free housing for students who positively impact their university, career and communities, as leaders. Students in this program get one year of free housing. This program is one way Northeastern Illinois University prepares students to promote social justice and make a difference in their communities, while also providing access to an education that otherwise might be unaffordable. Background I’m from Minneapolis! I’ve lived here for most of my life. During my early adulthood, I rented various apartments a few blocks from where George Floyd was killed. Until COVID-19, I often frequented restaurants and a bowling alley on Lake Street. My home is five minutes from where George Floyd was killed. What happened, happened in my community. I can’t distance myself from this event and what it says about the residents of Minneapolis. Nor can I avoid examining whether I have contributed to this situation, and what changes I can make to improve our society. Together with help from others, we’ve managed to build great businesses, including Blue Rose Capital Advisors, HedgeStar, and MPT Services, operating nationally. We help entities deal with the complexities of accessing capital from debt and derivative markets. We’ve managed our business as a traditional meritocracy, rewarding hard work and effort. I have the privilege of working with incredibly bright women and men every day. Through our work, we have meaningful relationships with great co-workers, outstanding clients, investment bankers, quant-geeks, English majors, CPAs, lawyers, and market regulators. However, this traditional approach may have cost us an opportunity to strengthen our company with the perspective that diversity delivers. We have always provided equal employment opportunity for those that come across our path, irrespective of gender, race, or religion, or other differences. However, the events that have occurred since George Floyd’s death have caused many to reexamine how to ensure equal access to opportunity in this country for all, including the historically disadvantaged classes. I have thought deeply about that question, as someone who has built several small businesses, where resources are limited and every hire is critical to the company’s success. Even so, we have not thought deeply enough about why relatively fewer candidates from the ranks of minority or discriminated classes have sought to work with us. The work we do is highly complex and requires a high level of education. Granular analysis shows that families with income in the top 40% spend four times more on education than the bottom 60%. This creates a self-perpetuating problem. Those at the bottom do not get nearly the same quality of education as those at the top, making it more difficult for them to obtain higher paying jobs, which in turn disadvantages their children. These recent insights caused me to appreciate why so few applicants from minority and discriminated classes met our traditional hiring requirements. The inequality in economics and living standards for the bottom 60% is contributing to political polarity, volatility, instability, and unrest. Most find the current instability unsettling, but it is society’s way of evolving to a higher order. This is what I believe is happening now: outdated methods, models and more are being replaced with better approaches. From this perspective, I am thrilled that we get to witness and participate in evolutionary change. Our individual impact, however small, contributes to permanent change. It is with this insight that I want to support the NEIU Social Justice Leadership Housing Award. It’s our way to address the self-perpetuating problem that the bottom 60% get an inferior education or no education at all. Providing free housing to eligible students while giving them the tools to make a difference in the world is a win-win situation for students, Northeastern Illinois University, and our community. It is an innovative approach to recruit and prepare tomorrow’s leaders by reducing the overall cost of attendance. This kind of program can also benefit universities by optimizing utilization of resources and strengthening enrollment, retention and graduation. I look forward to meeting these future leaders and engaging with them to solve the biggest problems of tomorrow. I highly encourage all friends of Blue Rose, HedgeStar, and MPT Services to spread the word about this Social Justice Leadership Housing Award. Visit and share this link from neiu.edu/housingaward for more information. Please contact the Blue Rose DeveloP3rs team https://www.develop3rs.com/ or 952-746-6030 if you would like to further discuss and/or evaluate social justice housing awards for your institution. If you would like to support this program in other ways, as we have done, please contact Liesl Downey, firstname.lastname@example.org, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, and Executive Director of the NEIU Foundation (773) 442-4248.