Posted: October 4, 2007
By Victoria Kerman '08
This summer Renee Leehim '08, an African American studies major and sociology minor, found herself living in a hotel in Philadelphia directly across the street from the offices of Lockwood Financial Group, a subsidiary of the Bank of New York. Every weekday morning Leehim dressed in business casual and made her way to a desk in those offices, at very close proximity to Len Reinhart, the firm's president. Although Leehim became familiar with his jovial office demeanor and enjoyment of the Philadelphia Phillies, Reinhart is known as a creator of Individually Managed Accounts, the sector in which Lockwood rates number four in the world.
Leehim's internship was offered through a new program called Gateway to Leadership, sponsored by the Money Management Institute in partnership with the NAACP. In its inaugural year, the program provided 20 paid summer internships in the financial services for undergraduate students attending historically black colleges and universities.
The participating member firms for summer 2007 were A.G. Edwards, Bank of New York/Lockwood Financial, Charles Schwab, Brinker Capital, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Ixis Asset Management, Prudential, Bank of America, and Legg Mason, New York Life Investment Management.
"I interned for the NAACP Washington bureau last spring and was the only student who does not attend a historically black college to be placed through their Gateway program," Leehim said. "The financial empowerment director for the NAACP wrote a recommendation for me, and I submitted a résumé and an essay."
Most of the other interns were business majors. Leehim, who had never considered a career in the business world, was placed in the marketing department of Lockwood, where she wrote articles for the firm. "The vice president, Jim Seuffert, helped me greatly with an article on financial literacy and was very receptive to my ideas in general," Leehim said.
The Gateway program seeks to introduce participants to all aspects of the financial world, so Leehim did rotations in all of Lockwood's departments. According to Leehim, "The program opened the doors to an industry that tends to not attract a lot of minorities. The CEOs of several firms ensured that we had the best summer possible. They took small groups of us out to lunch, dinners, golfing and were always available to take our calls."
While collaborating with students and many graduates of liberal arts institutions, Leehim has gained a new appreciation for her broad Mount Holyoke background. An interest in large social problems made Leehim a unique addition to a financial enterprise.
Leehim also made the acquaintance of MHC alumna Lisa Detwiler '84, the only lawyer on the board of Lockwood Financial. "She took me under her wing and was more than happy to be a support system for me. I always thought I would end up in the nonprofit sector, but she showed me how many for-profit businesses are making a difference in their communities. "Now," this senior states with confidence, "my ideal position would be one that entails corporate philanthropy."