A Baker’s Dozen of African American Influencers in Fintech and Financial Services


As part of Finovate’s continued commemoration of Black History Month, we’re showcasing some of the African American fintech and financial services influencers and leaders who are driving innovation and inclusion in our industry.

If you’ve ever lamented the lack of African Americans in the typical fintech influencer lists issued year after year, then hopefully this sampler of African American fintech entrepreneurs, technologists, and founders will help bring a little more color to the face of fintech.

Harry Alford III

Alford (LinkedIn) is Head of Institutional Sales at Coinbase Cloud where he is focused on sales and business development via partnerships and collaborations with financial institutions, businesses, and fintech startups. He is also co-founder of Humble Ventures, a Washington, D.C.-based venture development firm that supports and invests in founders and organizations that build solutions for diverse communities.

Jacqueline M. Baker

Baker (LinkedIn) is Vice President of Startup Programming at the AARP Innovation Labs where she leads a team dedicated to identifying promising startups via pitch competitions and accelerators. An expert in modern etiquette, leadership, and disruptive innovation, Baker is also founder and principal consultant at Scarlet Communications, an Upper Marlboro, Maryland-based firm that offers modern leadership guidance, professional training and coaching.

Marla Blow

Blow (LinkedIn) is President and Chief Operating Officer of the Skoll Foundation, an organization that invests in, networks, and champions social entrepreneurs and social innovators. In her role at Skoll, Blow leads the firm’s program, grants, investments, and financial management, including its operations, endowments and portfolio partnerships. She is also a member of the board of directors for Square Financial Services.

Asya Bradley

Bradley (LinkedIn) is co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at First Boulevard, a neobank and fully inclusive financial services company dedicated to helping Black Americans build generational wealth. Also the founder of #HowSheWorks, an inclusive grassroots community of founders and allies from underrepresented communities, Bradley has previously worked as SVP of Revenue at banking-as-a-service innovator SilaMoney, and as VP of Partnerships at identity verification specialist – and Finovate alum – Socure.

Chris Brummer

Brummer (LinkedIn) is a professor and faculty director at the Institute of International Economic Law at Georgetown University Law Center. He has lectured frequently on topics ranging from financial inclusion and equity to financial regulation and global governance. A member of the board of directors of Fannie Mae and the co-founder of the Fintech Beat Podcast, Brummer is author of a number of books including Fintech Law in a Nutshell and Cryptoassets: Legal, Regulatory, and Monetary Perspectives.

Thasunda Brown Duckett

Duckett (LinkedIn) is President and CEO of TIAA, a Fortune 100 financial services company that provides investing, retirement, and banking advice to academic, medical, non-profit and public sector professionals. Duckett has an extensive background in financial services, including executive tenures at JP Morgan Chase and Fannie Mae. She is a member of the board of directors at a number of organizations including NIKE, and the Economic Club of New York, as well as being part of the Dean’s Advisory Board for the Baylor University Hankamer School of Business.

Roger W. Ferguson, Jr.

Ferguson J. (LinkedIn) is the former President and CEO of retirement services company TIAA. He was previously Head of Financial Services at Swiss Re and a member of the company’s Executive Committee. He also served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors with the Federal Reserve from 1999 to 2006. A Harvard University graduate, earning a B.A. in Economics, a J.D., and a PhD in Economics from the institution, Ferguson Jr. also spent 13 years as an associate and partner with McKinsey & Company.

Jon Fortt

Fortt (LinkedIn) is Co-Anchor of CNBC’s TechCheck (previously Squawk Alley) where he specializes in the intersection of technology, finance, and innovation. Formerly a senior writer with Fortune, Fortt is an author, designer, and publisher of an educational course called The Black Experience in America that draws on diverse sources ranging from Shakespeare to Toni Morrison.

Donald Hawkins

Hawkins (LinkedIn) is co-founder and CEO of First Boulevard, the “unapologetically Black, digitally native bank” designed to help African Americans build generational wealth. An ICBA Bankers’ Choice 2020 recipient, Hawkins is a serial entrepreneur who, before launching First Boulevard, founded Griffin Technologies, a Kansas City, Missouri-based firm that helps community banks and credit unions improve customer engagement, boost sales, and compete with larger financial institutions.

Netta Jenkins

Jenkins (LinkedIn) is Vice President of Global Inclusion at Unqork, a no-code application platform that helps businesses build complex, customized software solutions faster while keeping costs low. Recognized by Forbes as one of the top seven anti-racism educators in the world, Jenkins is also co-founder of Dipper, a digital safe-space and community for professionals of color to share their experiences in the workplace.

Rodney Williams

Williams (LinkedIn) is co-founder and Chairman of SoLo Funds, a fintech that serves underrepresented communities in the U.S. by providing an alternative lending option that emphasizes equity and empowerment. Williams also co-founded ultrasonic data platform LISNR, a technology company that provides secure person-present authentication. A Henry Crown Fellow at The Aspen Institute and a Techstars Mentor, Williams received his MBA in Finance and Supply Chain Management from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Find out more about Williams and SoLo Funds in our interview from earlier this month.

Teri Williams

Williams (LinkedIn) is President and Chief Operating Officer at OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in the U.S. She is responsible for both implementing the bank’s strategic initiatives as well as managing the day-to-day operations of the institution. She has led OneUnited Bank in its consolidation of four local banks into a cohesive, national brand that provides affordable financial services for all while supporting economic development and wealth building in urban communities. An executive with OneUnited Bank for more than 26 years, Williams was previously a Vice President at American Express.

Dana L. Wilson

Wilson (LinkedIn) is a professional speaker and consultant who helps financial services firms create inclusive workspaces. She is also founder and CEO of CHIP (Changing How Individuals Prosper), a B2B2C marketplace for companies seeking Black and Latino financial professionals. A Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award Winner and self-described “FinServ Techie”, Wilson is also the host of The Included Series Podcast, a program that features people of color sharing their personal financial journeys.

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