Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
The New York Racing Association Inc.
Ozone Park, N.Y.
The New York Racing Association Inc. (NYRA) is America’s premiere thoroughbred racing association and Ellen McClain is its executive vice president and chief operating officer. She joined NYRA in 2009 as senior vice president and chief financial officer and was promoted in 2011. Prior to this, McClain, who holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Brown University, served as vice president of finance for Hearst-Argyle Television Inc. From 1993 to 2004, she was senior vice president and chief financial officer at Granite Broadcasting Corp., where she met one of her mentors, Don Cornwell, the founder of Granite. “I’ve had several mentors, but Don Cornwell was instrumental in my success,” recalls McClain. ”He encouraged me to go to business school and wrote me a recommendation. When I graduated, he gave me a job and ultimately made me the CFO of his company. I’m certain that if Granite, a Black-owned television company, did not exist I would not have become a CFO at age thirty-six.”
McClain, who is of African-American and Irish decent, relaxes with yoga. She also volunteers at her children’s school and is a member of the Equibase Management Team. Although her career has spanned more than 20 years, McClain says lessons learned as a basketball player for Brown University have helped her in the business world. “The experience of being on a team shaped me as a person and business leader,” McClain says. “I learned that I did not need to be a high-scoring star to have a meaningful role on the team. I learned to win with grace and lose with dignity. I learned how to be a leader and a role model.”