Marsha E. Jones

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Managing Director, Global Private Client Group, Merrill Lynch • New York, N.Y.

When Marsha E. Jones was named managing director of Merrill Lynch’s Private Client Office in 2002, it was a historic first for the firm, for she was the first, and to date only, African-American woman to hold that position. Tasked with rebuilding an office steeped in 20th century traditions and devastated by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, she focused on creating a strong team of financial advisors dedicated to meeting the needs of today’s New York City business community and individual investors. At the same time, she sought opportunities for her team to demonstrate the firm’s principle of responsible citizenship, whether it’s supporting a financial literacy and mentoring program in Harlem or volunteering for the Special Olympics.

Jones leads by example and values opportunities to mentor other financial advisors and aspiring female managers in the industry. She also supports an active internship program with her alma mater, Lehman College. She never set out to be a leader, she says, but became one “by the quality of my actions and the integrity of my intent.” “Excellence is never an accident: it is the result of high intention, effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution and the ability to see obstacles as opportunity,” she insists. Furthermore, “I believe it is my responsibility to not only serve as a role model for others, but to provide opportunities for talented minority candidates to achieve and excel in major financial institutions.”

She credits her mother and strongest role model, Phyllis Gadpaille Ellis, for teaching her the importance of integrity, her husband, Roderick, for support and encouragement and Merrill Lynch director Jack Diamond for hiring her and opening the door “to a career and lifestyle I never imagined.”

A recipient of numerous industry awards, Jones has a master’s degree in urban education from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in Education-English from Lehman College-City University of New York.

— T.G.

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