theGrio’s 100: Suzanne Shank, the leading lady of Wall Street

Who is Suzanne Shank?

Suzanne Shank is one of the few African-American female CEOs in the country, credited with running one of the top ranked minority and women-owned municipal bond investment banking firm in the nation. This powerful businesswoman was approached by Muriel Siebert, the first woman to buy a seat in the New York Stock exchange, in 1996; she proposed to open their discount brokerage firm. Today, their company, Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. is one of the most prominent finance companies in the industry, financing multi-million and billion-dollar deals around the country such as in New York, Philadelphia and throughout the state of Connecticut. Before co-founding Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., Shank was a design engineer engineer for General Dynamics in the Electric Boat Division, where she became one of the first black women to design submarines.

Why is she on theGrio’s 100?

Shank’s company was the first minority-owned and female-owned company to make the list as one of the top municipal finance firms in revenue in 2010. Black Enterprise in 2011 recently placed her on the list of the “75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street.”  She has also been recognized as one of the Wharton School’s 125 Influential People and Ideas as well as the National Entrepreneur of the Year by the Madame C.J. Walker Center.

Because Shank’s childhood dream was to become a social worker, Shank has always used her corporate power to give back to the communities in need. The Wharton School graduate has spearheaded the formation of the Detroit Summer Finance Institute, an internship program that exposes high school students to the financial world. She also is vice president of the founding board of W.A.V.E., an initiative to help struggling residents pay for water utility bills.

What’s next for Shank?

Shank admits that municipalities are struggling at the moment, but she contends that the municipal investments are some of the safest investments in the market. Shank encourages investors the practice of pre-marketing, which involves a financing set-up before the actual sale date of the bonds.