Honoring Black History Month in February and beyond

“Remembering Black history and celebrating the progress within our communities”

Black History Month is observed annually in February to honor Black experiences and the ways the Black Americans have contributed – and continue to contribute – to our nation’s collective history. In that spirit, Raymond James joined associates, advisors and leaders through a series of events led by Mosaic, the firm’s multicultural and multiethnic inclusion network, and the Black Financial Advisors Network (BFAN) to elevate and celebrate Black voices, stories and experiences.

Renée Baker, head of the Private Client Group Advisor Inclusion Networks, said, “Black History Month gives us an opportunity to remember our history and celebrate the progress within our communities. We will continue to uplift and support one another as they shape the communities of our future.”

Continued education and growing awareness was vital to Mosaic for this year’s Black History Month events, with the theme “Vital Signs: The Health and Wellness of Black America.” Industry experts and community leaders led engaging discussions on health in all forms: physical, mental, social, professional, spiritual and financial.

Lynne Henning, vice president of investments for Raymond James & Associates, said, “It’s valuable having a community of people who can relate to situations and maybe the same problems I’ve experienced. Having somebody I know can be a sounding board that will understand where I’m coming from, not just as a woman but as a Black person.”

Events kicked off on the first day of February with a webinar on health disparities of Black America, hosted by Sharon Saulsby, a capital markets compliance manager, and Riley Randolph, a marketing associate for investment products. The opening event highlighted the health diseases and conditions that disproportionately impact Black men, women and children. Other sessions surrounding physical health included special guests Dr. Katosha Muse and Patrick Lundry, and Dr. Dena Granger Turner’s session on being your own health advocate.

Black leaders Pedro Suriel, senior vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, T.J. Haynes-Morgan, chief audit executive, and Tony Barrett, complex manager, led a discussion on professional health by sharing experiences and advice based on their career journeys. Since it is estimated we will spend an average of one-third of our lives working, Mosaic ensured professional health was a focal point of educational sessions by recruiting this dynamic group of Black leaders to provide expert insight.

Closing out the month, spiritual, mental and social health played a major role in sessions hosted by notable guest speakers Pastor Dr. John A. Evans Sr. and Dr. Christopher Warren. While Evans spoke to spiritual shifts and significance within the Black community, Warren provided insight on embracing true authenticity in the workplace for better partnerships and more inclusive spaces that value all dimensions of diversity.

In addition to month-long panel events, BFAN held its ninth symposium, an annual event that provides Black advisors an opportunity to connect and develop personally and professionally. The three-day event took place at the beginning of February and featured keynote presentations, a townhall with Raymond James leaders, including Chair and Chief Executive Officer Paul Reilly, and various informational sessions focusing on development and practice management.

Inky Johnson, former college football player turned motivational speaker, gave a memorable presentation as the keynote speaker on the final day of the symposium. Speaking about gratitude, making choices and having an impact, Inky inspired BFAN attendees to approach life with strength, truth and ambition. Inky shared many stories and experiences, including his infamous football injury and how each moment transformed his journey and perspective.

Solitaire Dasher-Smiley, a Raymond James financial advisor, said, “I participate in the Black Financial Advisors Network because I believe it is a network that was created with the intent of bringing people of shared experiences and potential hurdles together so they can learn from each other, encourage each other and promote diversity in the industry.”

Stay tuned for information on the tenth annual BFAN Symposium in 2024.

Keeping our promise

Since making our commitment to the Black community, Raymond James has raised $975,000, leading us closer to our goal of $1.5 million over three years. Throughout the past year, we continued to support a variety of organizations, including Columbia University’s Developing Black Leaders in Financial Services program, the National Black MBA Association, the Collective Blueprint and the Florida A&M University Computer Information Sciences department.

We look forward to continuing to strive toward our goals, fulfilling our commitments and honoring the Black community, during Black History Month and beyond.

Learn more about the Raymond James Diversity, Equity and Inclusion networks, as well as the firm’s Pledge to the Black Community and our progress since 2020.