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Ty Ekelemu speaks for 2018 Boston's Future Leaders

Posted by on December 07, 2018

At the Chamber's December 2018 Board Meeting, Ty Ekelemu, Vice President at State Street, was asked to speak on behalf of her Boston's Future Leaders Cohort on what the program meant to her, as well as her vision for the future of Boston. Her remarks are included below.

"President Abraham Lincoln once said 'I’m a success today, because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.'

 Through the Boston Future Leaders program, I engaged, connected and learned with this talented cohort…many of whom I call friend. We are diverse and work in various sectors…finance, education, health care, politics, social enterprise and the arts. Together, we attended several leadership programs and events and spent three days at Harvard learning how to be authentic leaders with purpose.

One of my most memorable program events was the visit to the State House. Dr. Mary Burke a Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve, was the keynote speaker. From her presentation, I learned that Massachusetts ranked near the bottom for state fiscal health despite being one of the best states to live in. (That the S&P deemed our state budget was vulnerable to recession.) That the key risks to our region are: high rents, aging infrastructure (MBTA) and a tight immigration policy. 

I learned that Boston residents are leaving the state in droves. That our black and Latino residents have a 6.2% unemployment rate, a rate that is much higher than whites. And like the Italian marble lining the statehouse, much of the city’s growth is attributed to immigration.

Her presentation stuck with me. Four years ago, I moved to Boston from Chicago. I am the proud daughter of an immigrant. My father set aside his college dreams to work in a factory to help my grandmother take care of the family. As the oldest, he worked to help my grandmother provide for his sisters and brothers. He always told me to go to school, get a good job and don’t quit. It was obvious that a good job was not working in a factory. Growing up, I dreamed of having an office job with a major corporation.

That was my idea of a leader. And despite working several years at major corporations, I mostly viewed leadership through a narrow lens based on title.

What I learned in the program is that leadership is not solely determined by our title. I learned from a happy cruise ship worker and a supportive basketball coach that leadership is about who we are and what we give. It is our commitment to improve ourselves and to provide value to our organization and community through our actions and behaviors. I have expanded my ability and capacity for leading across teams and managing change. I know more about power and influence and the importance of adding value and building a strong network to achieve both. I am sure my friends can relate.

I know that leadership involves having a vision that extends beyond ourselves.

My vision for Boston is that the city continues to value diversity and embrace immigrants and transplants alike. Where organizations and government continue to work together to improve the city and solve the city’s challenges. Where all residents have opportunities and access to top rank education, employment, affordable housing and quality health care. May Boston be a city that fosters friendship and continues to prepare its leaders for success. Thank you!"