A Georgia native and Wall Street heavyweight was honored at the Black Girls Rock! 2017 Awards on Aug. 5.
Savannah-born Suzanne Shank, CEO and co-founder of the investment firm Siebert Cisneros Shank (SCSCO) was recognized at the event as one of the most powerful women in the financial industry with the 2017 Shot Caller award.
The show, which airs Aug. 22 on BET network is an annual celebration of African-American women at the top of their fields in entertainment, finance, politics and more.
Shank was joined by fellow award winners including U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters; singer Roberta Flack, actress Yara Shahidi from the ABC show “Black-ish;” Isaa Rae, the writer, actress, producer and creator of “Insecure”; singer Solange Knowles and community organizers Derrica Wilson and Natalie Wilson of the Black & Missing Children Foundation.
“I am humbled to share the stage with these talented and dynamic black women,” said Shank. “I came from modest beginnings but had encouragement from my parents and mentors that allowed me to achieve a level of success I never imagined."
Shank, a mother of two, was raised in Savannah by her mother, an educator, and her father, who was the first black bus driver in Georgia and would later become head of the regional transit authority. Growing up, Shank's parents taught her the value and importance of hard work, she said in an interview with the Detroit Free Press .
The Georgia Institute of Technology graduate began her career in engineering before shifting to the world of finance. After graduating with an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, she headed to Wall Street looking for a job.
Shank landed at a boutique firm and would ultimately find an important mentor in the late Muriel Siebert. Siebert was the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1996, the two combined forced and launched their own firm. Current partners also include former U.S. HUD Secretary and San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros and former New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson.
In 2010, SCSCO became the first minority-owned firm in America to rank among the top 10 senior managers of municipal bonds. The firm has ranked as the No. 1 minority- and woman-owned municipal finance firm for 18 consecutive years.
Headquartered in New York City and Oakland, Calif., the company which has 17 offices nationwide, arranges billions of dollars in financing for airports, roads, schools and other municipal and corporate projects across the country.
"I hope my path serves as an example and provides encouragement to girls and young women to dream big and to pursue their dreams fully. Investment bankers don’t often get to walk the red carpet, rub elbows with Hollywood A-listers and hold up statues. It was a thrill and an honor to be recognized by Beverly Bond, the show’s creator, and BET,” Shank said.