Diane Ridley Gatewood

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Esq. – Assistant Attorney General, Chief of Registration, Office of the NYS Attorney General, New York, N.Y.

During her sum-mer breaks from school, Diane Rid-ley Gatewood often obser-ved her mother work. “My mother was the first businesswoman who influenced me. She worked in the accounting area of the Finance Department at the U.S. Department of Agriculture [and] also sold real estate,” she explains.

Later, Gatewood accompanied her mother to business conferences. “There I learned to meet and network with people from other cities,” she says.

Today, she is the assistant attorney general and chief of registration for the New York State Department of Law, a division of the Office of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. She manages securities registration and works with the state legislature to assure that laws and regulations to protect investors are passed. “There’s never a dull moment,” she says, not in an industry that’s synonymous with power and at a time when Wall Street is under regulatory scrutiny.

A native of St. Louis, Mo., Gatewood came to New York by way of Chicago, where she attended Northwestern University’s School of Law. Although her venture East was partially influenced by her husband, noted artist Lamerol Gatewood, she says the transition landed her in a coveted position at the American Stock Exchange, where she was able to combine the legal and financial expertise she had honed at what was then a small Midwestern brokerage firm, A.G. Edwards. “I joined the Exchange on September 1, 1987, just 18 days before the biggest market crash since May Day in 1975,” she says. “It was a great experience.”

Her move into public finance at Moody’s Investors Service was aided by the election of Black mayors in some of the nation’s largest cities. “[Former Atlanta Mayor] Maynard Jackson made the clarion call that more Blacks were needed in public finance [and] I benefited from his leadership,” she says. She became a vice president at Moody’s, analyzing more than $272 billion in bond offerings while pressing the company on diversity in hiring.

“I know one person can make a difference; that inspires me to help others,”she says.