On December 9th, Barbara G. Novick, Vice Chairman and Co-Founder of BlackRock, was honored at the UJA Federation of New York’s Wall Street Dinner with the Gustave L. Levy Award. Her speech is below.
Good evening and thank you all for coming tonight.
I am honored to share the evening with Adam.
While we’ve only gotten to know each other recently,
Adam is an inspiration for our younger generation of leaders.
My first experience with UJA was reading the Neediest Cases column in the NYT
just after I had graduated from college.
The story was eye opening and motivated me to make my first gift,
albeit a modest one.
When I started working on Wall Street, I attended the Wall Street dinner
and then I got more involved with the Larchmont-Mamaroneck campaign
where I was inspired by the generosity of committed donors.
I found a particular affinity for the Women’s division
and the incredible women who drove this campaign.
However, I never expected to be a beneficiary of UJA.
As my family navigated the challenges of elder care,
I discovered another facet of the organization….
as quite a few agencies are supported by your gifts.
And, for several years, I was fortunate to have a front-row seat
serving on the UJA-Federation Board….
and witnessing first-hand how UJA works its magic.
Some of you may have noticed that I am a woman
My siblings and I grew up working alongside our father in our family business —
a classic army/navy store in Hicksville, Long Island.
Our father taught us the importance of values.
Growing up, it never occurred to me that a woman could not do
anything a man could do.
….well, maybe not everything
At a time when many universities were struggling with becoming egalitarian,
I chose to attend Cornell —
An institution where women had been welcome as equals for many decades.
When I graduated from Cornell
and came to Wall Street to start my career,
Imagine my surprise finding so few women,
and not one senior woman.
Thirty-eight years later, I am humbled to be the first woman honored
in over 40 years of UJA Wall Street dinners.
I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude to the women who blazed the trail
ahead of me.
….Women like Carol Eineger and Abby Joseph Cohen.
Looking around —
Let me ask the women in the room tonight to please stand
I’m happy to say ‘We’ve come a long way!’
The cigar smoking, cussing, card calling Wall Street dinners that many of us attended …
have become a distant memory, from a different era.
Over the past four decades, the face of the industry has changed dramatically,
and there is tremendous momentum today for this change to accelerate.
I personally know so many amazing and accomplished women on Wall Street,
Many of whom I consider friends as well as colleagues.
And I’m touched by how many of these women have turned out
for the dinner tonight.
For those younger women here tonight, look around again
In a world where we have had an all-female space walk,
and we have women leaders in government, academia, and the private sector….
your motto should be:
‘I can do anything I put my mind to’.
In a few weeks, we will celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah.
Close your eyes and imagine the menorah…
With its shamash burning bright beside the un-lit candles.
For those senior women here tonight — and the senior men too—
and join me in making a special pledge tonight….
Let’s all reach back and light a candle …or two or three…
to help young women climb their career ladder.
You can literally light the way by providing support and guidance
that will change the trajectory of their careers, and
broaden the ranks of senior women on Wall Street.
As with candles, when one gives light to another,
it loses nothing of its own light.
In fact when one wick lights a second,
the emerging light is even brighter and stronger.
The same can be said of mentoring and sponsoring young talent
regardless of gender.
I look forward to witnessing our community grow even stronger,
And, now that we’ve lifted the Glass Kippot,
I also look forward to celebrating with more women honorees.
The world has changed in other ways as well.
Millennials and iGen’ers who follow them are demanding more
…..as you heard tonight from Andrew Ross Sorkin.
They want to make a difference — professionally and personally.
UJA Federation is an organization that provides an opportunity to make a difference.
Whether by volunteering your time or donating money….
YOU can change lives.
UJA-Federation mission’s is simple:
- care for people in need
- Inspire a passion for Jewish life and learning
- Strengthen Jewish communities in NY, in Israel, and around the world
What do Katrina, Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Dorian have in common?
Just looking at the past few years,
UJA Federation has been one of the first organizations to respond to the needs of real people
in New Orleans, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas,
as well as other areas devastated by natural disasters.
The organization provides amazing support to newcomers to the US
as well as to Jews in countries around the world.
Clal Yisrael at its best!
Think of UJA as lighting hundreds of menorahs…. all over the world.
Supporting those in need.
Helping people get back on their feet.
Building a strong community.
This is the work of incredible professionals and volunteers
working together to make a difference.
Let me conclude by acknowledging a few people.
First, thank you to my colleagues at BlackRock — my BlackRock family—
for your support over the past 31 years
….as Rob said, we really were 12 when we started
And thank you to all of the women and men who have given their support to this dinner.
Thank you to my friends for your ongoing support and
your unbridled enthusiasm for me accepting this award.
And extra thanks to the amazing Dinner Chairs and Dinner Committee
for making this a very special evening —
not just for me, but for everyone here tonight.
Special thanks goes to my mother-in-law, Aileen.
Who has contributed so much of herself to our family.
Special thanks also goes to our children — Abby, Asher, and Rachel —
for simply being YOU and pursuing your own passions.
And the biggest thank you of all goes to Barry,
As we celebrate our 38th anniversary this month
….yes, I was a child bride
Your encouragement and support have made it possible for this evening to occur.
And finally, thank you to Eric and UJA for this opportunity to share my thoughts.