Editor’s note: The following article appeared on Forbes.com on January 27, 2019.
By Christine Michel Carter
Alicia Wilson is the senior vice president of impact investments and senior legal counsel for Port Covington Impact Investments LLC. She is the woman responsible for assisting the CEO Kevin Plank (the founder, chairman, and CEO of Under Armour) with strategic philanthropic investment initiatives in the city of Baltimore. But also as a black millennial woman born and raised in Baltimore City, she is inspired to serve her community.
“I can recall several 30-minute mentoring sessions, expressions of generosity and exposure experiences that changed the trajectory of my personal and professional life. It is my desire to be for someone else what these extraordinary beacons of light in my community were for me. ”
The 36-year-old’s passion for Baltimore City youth is evident in her resume. Aside from her previous law experience in case management she’s helped Baltimore youth enroll in drug treatment and diversion programs, developed a mock student trial/oral advocacy curriculum, and created parent resource guides for the guardians of delinquent youth.
Wilson also serves as Chairman of the Board for CollegeBound Foundation, a nonprofit which works exclusively in Baltimore City public schools encouraging and enabling students to pursue a post-secondary education. Recently in her volunteer role with the foundation, she had the opportunity to introduce her students to an inspirational lawyer- author and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Wilson previously met Obama through a mutual friend and had dinner with her more than a year ago. After discussing the foundation with her she was given the opportunity to escort 150 students to the Washington, DC stop of Obama’s “Becoming” book tour. Following a brief dialogue with thousands in the audience about what Wilson herself was “becoming,” Obama was brought to the stage.
“Without question, meeting First Lady Michelle Obama was transformative. I remember growing up and hearing that ‘so-and-so’ forgot where they came from… Mrs. Obama is no ‘so-and-so’ and it is evident that she has not forgotten. She not only looks back, but also comes back by extending her hand so that others might walk forward with her. ”
Wilson believes for today’s diverse youth, it will be seeing other transformational black female leaders like Obama that will ignite change in the law industry, as the challenges for young black women in the legal field have remained constant for decades.
“The vast majority of my professional day is spent in spaces where I am the minority with respect to my gender, race and, in many cases, socioeconomic background. I must help others understand the value of diversity. To me, it is not worthy of applause for only ‘one or two’ of ‘us’ to be at the table when decisions are being made that disproportionately impact those in the minority. I must translate and code-switch to ensure that the perspective of those not present is represented.”
Yet as less diverse millennial professionals are able to afford top-tier law schools, she sees a real need for traditional industries such as law to change their hiring practices.
“I think traditional industries would do well to realize this important fact: everyone that is going to work for the next thirty years is already here. The lead time to cultivate, train, and educate talent is 7-10 years at a minimum. If law firms, corporations, non-profits, and government remain rigid and unyielding with their assessment that only the top-third of the class that went to the top-tier law school is a viable candidate, they will miss out on a critical window to attract and retain talent that is much more resilient, enterprising… and diverse.”
Now as another popular black female figure descends to Baltimore, Wilson is once again excited for what her presence means for the city’s youth. California senator Kamala Harris has announced Baltimore will be her campaign headquarters as she runs for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2020 election. As another prominent black female lawyer in America, Wilson hopes Harris will courageously ask the hard but necessary questions, hear the answers with an open mind and help drive positive change.
“I have followed Senator Kamala Harris’s life and career since she announced her run for attorney general of California. The breadth and depth of her experiences and character inspire me. I think that her choice to open her headquarters here speaks volumes about what we can expect from her as a candidate and executive. I would say to with her with open arms- welcome to Baltimore!”