Black History Makers Series
Week One: JLL Clients
TH Real Estate, President and CEO
Mr. Ferguson is the former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System. He represented the Federal Reserve on several international policy groups and served on key Federal Reserve System committees, including Payment System Oversight, Reserve Bank Operations, and Supervision and Regulation. As the only Governor in Washington, D.C. on 9/11, he led the Fed's initial response to the terrorist attacks, taking actions that kept the U.S. financial system functioning while reassuring the global financial community that the U.S. economy would not be paralyzed.
Prior to joining TIAA in April 2008, Mr. Ferguson was head of financial services for Swiss Re, Chairman of Swiss Re America Holding Corporation, and a member of the company's executive committee. From 1984 to 1997, he was an Associate and Partner at McKinsey & Company. He began his career as an attorney at the New York City office of Davis Polk & Wardwell.
Mr. Ferguson is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and co-chairs its Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education. He serves on the boards of Alphabet, Inc., General Mills, Inc., and International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc., and on the advisory board of Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP.
He is Chairman of The Conference Board and serves on the boards of the Institute for Advanced Study and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the Economic Club of New York, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Group of Thirty. He previously chaired the Business-Higher Education Forum and served on its executive committee, and he served on the board of the American Council of Life Insurers.
Mr. Ferguson served on President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness as well as its predecessor, the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and he co-chaired the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on the Long-Run Macro-Economic Effects of the Aging U.S. Population.
AT&T, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer
With over 30 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry, Cynthia Marshall is currently the Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for AT&T. This includes defining and implementing workforce strategies, talent management, employee engagement, employee relations and compensation design.
Previously, Cynthia served as President, AT&T North Carolina, where she was directly responsible for the company’s regulatory, legislative and community affairs activities in the state.
Cynthia is an advocate for the education of children. She formally served as a co-chair of the General Assembly’s Committee on Dropout Prevention and was named a “Friend of Education” by the North Caroline State Board of Education in recognition of her untiring efforts. She is also a passionate an active board member of CASA, advocating for the well-being of children in need.
Cynthia was named 2014 HR Executive of the Year by the Best in Biz Awards, an independent, international business awards program. In 2015, Cynthia was named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Corporate America” by Black Enterprise. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, where she earned degrees in Business Administration and Human Resources Management. Additionally, Cynthia has been awarded by Livingstone College and Bennett College as an honorary Doctorate recipient.
Week Two: Black History Makers in Real Estate
Real Estate Entrepreneur
Real estate tycoon Harold A. Dawson, Sr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia on March 5, 1935. While still in grade school, Dawson began working, polishing brass and washing windows for money. After graduating from Booker T. Washington High School in 1953, he went on to attend Morehouse College. However, a personal crisis in 1955 forced him to leave school early. In 1957, he was hired by T.M. Alexander, Sr. of Citizen’s Trust Bank as a realtor, and later went over to Alexander’s firm, Alexander & Associates, the most prestigious African American owned real estate firm at the time, but he returned, earning his B.S. degree in business administration in 1963.
Alexander & Associates later became Alexander-Dawson & Associates, where Dawson served as president. Under his guidance, Alexander-Dawson & Associates built the University Plaza Apartments, the first luxury mid-rise building in Atlanta’s black community. The firm also bought and developed properties behind the “Peyton Wall,” the controversial wall built in an attempt to separate Atlanta’s black and white communities. In 1969, he formed the Harold A. Dawson Company (HADCO), where he remains today as CEO.
HADCO has grown from its early years of selling homes in the Atlanta area to developing multi-million dollar properties across the United States. Some of the recent accomplishments of the company include Centennial Hill in Atlanta, which houses the Children’s Museum of Atlanta and a high-rise condominium building, and Centerpoint in Baltimore, which occupies a full city block for commercial and residential use. HADCO has remained a strong family business. When Dawson was diagnosed with cancer in 1992, his son, Harold Dawson, Jr., returned to Atlanta to join the business.
A firm believer in giving back to his community, Dawson has set up a family foundation to fund a new building for Radcliffe Presbyterian Church, as well as scholarships for students who attend the church. He has also established scholarships for students attending Morehouse and Clark Atlanta Universities. Dawson holds the distinction of being the first African American to serve on the Georgia Real Estate Commission, where he is the former chairman and also a member. He is the past president of the National Association of Real Estate License Law Officials, the Empire Board of Realtists and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.
President & CEO, T. Dallas Smith & Company
As founder of the company, T. Dallas Smith oversees all of our commercial brokerage activity and personally works with select clients. He is licensed in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Maryland. Dallas has over 30 years of experience as a commercial real estate broker. The first 6 years he represented landlords while working for Mr. Thomas W. Tift at the Atlanta Air Center Realty in 1982 and for 25 years plus has represented only Tenants. He has skillfully negotiated over seven million square feet of commercial property and five thousand acres of land acquisitions totaling more than two billion dollars in value. His partial client list include; AT&T, The Coca-Cola Company, Crawford & Company, The Integral Group, Gude Management, General Services Administration, The Urban League of Greater Atlanta and the State of Georgia. Read More
In 1989, Dallas became the first African American to work with Cushman & Wakefield of Georgia, serving local and national companies such as Jostens Learning Corporation, the Georgia Lottery Corporation and the Arthritis Foundation with their office leasing needs. He also pioneered the brokerage division for H.J. Russell & Company in 1995 as Vice President of the Brokerage Division where he worked with such companies as BellSouth, General Motors, Wal-Mart, Target and Lowe’s Theaters. An advocate for diversifying the commercial real estate industry, Dallas feels that it is his “Calling” to help nourish and develop diverse talent for an industry that has been very good to him.
Dallas is very involved in the community both locally and nationally. Some of his past and present activities include: Leadership Atlanta Class of 1996, Georgia State University Trustee - Foundation Board (current Chair of the Real Estate Committee), Metro Atlanta Chamber, CoreNet Global (Diversity Council), IDRC (Diversity Council), a founding member of the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors. He is a frequent speaker and teacher at the Empire Real Estate Board where he developed “CRE-101 by T. Dallas Smith”, with insight and humor he preaches the Gospel of Tenant Representation as only he can.
Integrated Capital, LLC, Managing Partner
Kenneth H. Fearn is Founder and Managing Partner of Integrated Capital, LLC. Prior to founding Integrated Capital, LLC, Mr. Fearn was Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer of Maritz, Wolff & Co., the primary activity of which was private equity real estate acquisition and development. Maritz, Wolff managed three private equity investment funds totaling $500 million in equity for the sole purpose of acquiring luxury resorts and hotels. Through this affiliation, Mr. Fearn was directly involved in more than $1 billion of hospitality acquisitions, including such renowned properties as the Four Seasons Aviara in San Diego, the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara, the Fairmont in San Francisco, the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica, and The Carlyle in New York.
Previously, Mr. Fearn was with McKinsey & Company, a strategy management consulting firm in Los Angeles. There, Mr. Fearn worked with Fortune 200 companies to address issues of profitability and develop business strategies. Prior to his involvement with McKinsey & Company he worked at JP Morgan & Company, a global investment banking firm in New York City, where he was involved with corporate mergers and acquisitions, and was an associate at Los Angeles based Capital Group Companies prior to attending business school.
Mr. Fearn received a BA in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business. Mr. Fearn is also the co-author of a white paper entitled A Productive Inner City, Rebuilding Los Angeles' Competitiveness. The white paper examines economic development within the disadvantaged urban area of Los Angeles, and is the basis for work currently being conducted on "The Competitive Advantage of the Inner City" at Harvard Business School by Michael E. Porter, the Roland Christensen Professor of Business Administration.
In October 2010, Mr. Fearn was nominated Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles ("CRA/LA") where he oversaw the multibillion dollar agency whose mission was to make strategic investments to create economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in the City of Los Angeles. He served in this capacity until March 2012. Mr. Fearn was appointed to the CRA/LA by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and approved by the Los Angeles City Council in October 2009. Under his guidance the agency was repositioned from an agency known for its bureaucracy into an organization with a laser focus on creating jobs and a streamlined the project approval process.
Mr. Fearn also serves on the Board of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce (where he is a member of the Executive Committee and the Finance Committee), the Board of Directors of Berger Bros. (a well-established California construction company), and the Owner Advisory Council for Marriott International. Mr. Fearn is also a member of the Young Presidents' Organization (where he served as Chairman for the Santa Monica Bay Chapter), and he serves on the Board of Directors of Challengers Boys & Girls Club.
Week Three: The Originals
Booker T. Washington
Educator, Author and African American Civil Rights Leader
Born a slave on a Virginia farm, Washington (1856-1915) rose to become one of the most influential African-American intellectuals of the late 19th century. He served as an adviser to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Although Washington clashed with other black leaders such as W. E. B. Du Bois and drew ire for his seeming acceptance of segregation, he is recognized for his educational advancements and attempts to promote economic self-reliance among African Americans.
Across the landscape of the most anguished era of American race relations (1895-1915) strode the self-assured and influential Booker T. Washington. The foremost black educator, power broker, and institution builder of his time, Washington in 1881 founded Tuskegee Institute, a black school in Alabama devoted to industrial and moral education and to the training of public school teachers. From his southern small-town base, he created a national political network of schools, newspapers, and the National Negro Business League (founded in 1901). In response to the age of Jim Crow, Washington offered the doctrine of accommodation, acquiescing in social and political inequality for blacks while training them for economic self-determination in the industrial arts.
Born a slave on a small farm in western Virginia, Washington was nine years old when the Civil War ended. His humble but stern rearing included his working in a salt furnace when he was ten and serving as a houseboy for a white family where he first learned the virtues of frugality, cleanliness, and personal morality. Washington was educated at Hampton Institute, one of the earliest freedmen’s schools devoted to industrial education; Hampton was the model upon which he based his institute in Tuskegee. Growing up during Reconstruction and imbued with moral as opposed to intellectual training, he came to believe that postwar social uplift had begun at the wrong end: the acquisition of political and civil rights rather than economic self-determination.
Washington’s philosophy and the “Tuskegee machine” won him widespread support among northern white philanthropists as well as acclaim among blacks. In his Atlanta Compromise address, delivered at the Cotton States Exposition in 1895, he struck the keynotes of racial accommodationism: “Cast down your buckets where you are,” Washington urged blacks. “In all things that are purely social,” he announced to attentive whites, “we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” His thoroughly bourgeois, antilabor, antidemocratic appeal stood for years as an endorsement of segregation. He sustained his power as an educational statesman by some ruthless and duplicitous methods. Rival black newspapers, educators, and thinkers were frequently intimidated by his brand of boss politics. Black newspaper editors and aspiring young intellectuals risked ostracism and unemployment if they embraced political activism rather than Washington’s accommodationist social policy. Such disputes surfaced especially in the famous debate between Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois over the aims of “industrial” as opposed to “classical” education among blacks.
Growing black and white opposition to Washington’s acquiescence in disfranchisement and Jim Crow led to the formation of the Niagara Movement (1905-1909) and the naacp, activist organizations working for civil and political rights as well as against lynching. Ironically, Washington also labored secretly against Jim Crow laws and racial violence, writing letters in code names and protecting blacks from lynch mobs, though these efforts were rarely known in his own time.
Washington was a pragmatist who engaged in deliberate ambiguity in order to sustain white recognition of his leadership. Such visibility won him international fame and the role of black adviser to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. His widely read autobiography, Up from Slavery (1901), stands as a classic in the genre of narratives by American self-made men, as well as the prime source for Washington’s social and historical philosophy. His racial philosophy did not long survive his death, but in theory and practice, his views on economic self-reliance have remained one of the deepest strains in Afro-American thought.
Physicist and Mathematician
Being handpicked to be one of three black students to integrate West Virginia’s graduate schools is something that many people would consider one of their life’s most notable moments, but it’s just one of several breakthroughs that have marked Katherine Johnson’s long and remarkable life. Born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia in 1918, Katherine Johnson’s intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers vaulted her ahead several grades in school. By thirteen, she was attending the high school on the campus of historically black West Virginia State College. At eighteen, she enrolled in the college itself, where she made quick work of the school’s math curriculum and found a mentor in math professor W. W. Schieffelin Claytor, the third African American to earn a PhD in Mathematics. Katherine graduated with highest honors in 1937 and took a job teaching at a black public school in Virginia.
When West Virginia decided to quietly integrate its graduate schools in 1939, West Virginia State’s president Dr. John W. Davis selected Katherine and two male students as the first black students to be offered spots at the state’s flagship school, West Virginia University. Katherine left her teaching job, and enrolled in the graduate math program. At the end of the first session, however, she decided to leave school to start a family with her husband. She returned to teaching when her three daughters got older, but it wasn’t until 1952 that a relative told her about open positions at the all-black West Area Computing section at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA’s) Langley laboratory, headed by fellow West Virginian Dorothy Vaughan. Katherine and her husband, James Goble, decided to move the family to Newport News to pursue the opportunity, and Katherine began work at Langley in the summer of 1953. Just two weeks into Katherine’s tenure in the office, Dorothy Vaughan assigned her to a project in the Maneuver Loads Branch of the Flight Research Division, and Katherine’s temporary position soon became permanent. She spent the next four years analyzing data from flight test, and worked on the investigation of a plane crash caused by wake turbulence. As she was wrapping up this work her husband died of cancer in December 1956.
The 1957 launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik changed history—and Katherine Johnson’s life. In 1957, Katherine provided some of the math for the 1958 document “Notes on Space Technology”, a compendium of a series of 1958 lectures given by en0gineers in the Flight Research Division and the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (PARD). Engineers from those groups formed the core of the Space Task Group, the NACA’s first official foray into space travel, and Katherine, who had worked with many of them since coming to Langley, “came along with the program” as the NACA became NASA later that year. She did trajectory analysis for Alan Shepard’s May 1961 mission Freedom 7, America’s first human spaceflight. In 1960, she and engineer Ted Skopinski coauthored “Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position”, a report laying out the equations describing an orbital spaceflight in which the landing position of the spacecraft is specified. It was the first time a woman in the Flight Research Division had received credit as an author of a research report.
In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine Johnson was called upon to do the work that she would become most known for. The complexity of the orbital flight had required the construction of a worldwide communications network, linking tracking stations around the world to IBM computers in Washington, DC, Cape Canaveral, and Bermuda. The computers had been programmed with the orbital equations that would control the trajectory of the capsule in Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission, from blast off to splashdown, but the astronauts were wary of putting their lives in the care of the electronic calculating machines, which were prone to hiccups and blackouts. As a part of the preflight checklist, Glenn asked engineers to “get the girl”—Katherine Johnson—to run the same numbers through the same equations that had been programmed into the computer, but by hand, on her desktop mechanical calculating machine. “If she says they’re good,’” Katherine Johnson remembers the astronaut saying, “then I’m ready to go.” Glenn’s flight was a success, and marked a turning point in the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union in space.
When asked to name her greatest contribution to space exploration, Katherine Johnson talks about the calculations that helped synch Project Apollo’s Lunar Lander with the moon-orbiting Command and Service Module. She also worked on the Space Shuttle and the Earth Resources Satellite, and authored or coauthored 26 research reports. She retired in 1986, after thirty-three years at Langley. “I loved going to work every single day,” she says. In 2015, at age 97, Katherine Johnson added another extraordinary achievement to her long list: President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.