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Suzanne Shank's Commitment to Black Women Was on Full Display at the Mackinac Policy Conference | Michigan Chronicle

Read pieces of the Michigan Chronicle article highlighting Suzanne's significant and historic efforts chairing the 2024 Mackinac Policy Conference. Full article linked below.

“Don’t settle for average. Bring your best to the moment. Then, whether it fails or succeeds, at least you know you gave all you had. We need to live the best that’s in us.” – Angela Bassett

The 2024 Mackinac Policy Conference was a watershed moment in Michigan’s political landscape, and the conference chair, Suzanne Shank – President, CEO, and Co-Founder of the largest Black-owned full-service investment banking firm – was the driving force behind so much of its success.

Shank, a renowned business leader and advocate for diversity and inclusion, brought her unique vision to the conference, shaping a program that showcased the state’s most pressing issues and featured a remarkable lineup of speakers, predominantly women, particularly Black women.

“It was a bit more work than I anticipated…but I was very intentional about wanting to have certain types of speakers. I wanted it to be bipartisan. I wanted a cabinet secretary. So I reached out to the governor. I reached out to the mayor a couple times. I reached out to people I trust to help bring in real talent that would give a slightly different view,” Shank said in an interview with Michigan Chronicle during the conference.

“We wanted a lot of Michiganders on the stage, but we wanted people from around the country to inform us as Michiganders. It really is like a village planning this conference, but I’ve been really privileged to serve in this capacity. I run a women-owned firm. I understand that I’m often the only woman in the room. And I felt an obligation, really, to make sure that we…had women – and Black women – well-represented on the big stage, where it gets a lot of attention.”

As the first Black woman in history to chair the Mackinac Policy Conference, Shank was determined to create a platform that reflected Michigan’s diverse voices and perspectives. She worked tirelessly to curate a speaker list that included some of the most influential women in politics, business, and advocacy, including U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, to name a few. But she also wanted Black women leaders. In total, 40 percent of the speakers were women.

“We didn’t want the same speakers we’ve always had. We wanted thought leaders, and they happened to be women. We wanted CEOs and they just happened to be women. When you set a goal, it’s not so hard to achieve. Once we decided we wanted to be very intentional about having women on stage, it was really easy to make it happen,” Shank said.

“I felt an obligation to do it even though my schedule is horrendous because I know there haven’t been many African Americans in charge of the conference, and certainly not a lot of women, but never a Black woman. So, I just think to show that to young women that this is achievable is very important to me.


Read the full article here.

Jeremy Allen, Executive Editor

Michigan Chronicle

June 5, 2024


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