Donna Murray-Brown was recently named to Crain's Detroit Business 100 Most Influential Women of 2021 list. Murray-Brown reflects on various career highlights, milestones, and general learnings from her years of experience. Read the transcript of the article below.
From Crain's Detroit Business
By Leslie D. Green (Crain's Detroit)
Career trajectory: Donna Murray-Brown earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Central State University in Ohio, an HBCU, because a successful neighbor was a graduate. She was the first in her family to graduate with a four-year degree.
Murray-Brown had an aunt with a seemingly glamorous career in banking; so, she went to the neighborhood bank, National Bank of Detroit, and told the manager she wanted a job. Though there wasn't an opening, she secured an interview and landed a position as a teller. Within six months, Murray-Brown was promoted to senior assistant manager. A couple of years later, she became manager and was sent to Columbus, Ohio, to run a failing savings and loan.
The start was rough. The team initially resigned upon learning they would work for a Black woman. After discussions with the regional manager, the team decided to give Murray-Brown a try.
"I felt like I really had to perform. I felt like I had to go into overdrive," she said. "There are many people now who only got a chance because they came into contact with me, and I paved the way."
She became vice president and community development director of Charter One Bank in 2004. While serving on the advisory board for the United Way of Southeastern Michigan, someone suggested she take a job in the nonprofit sector.
In 2009, after 22 years in banking, Murray-Brown joined the Michigan Nonprofit Association as director of the Metro Detroit Partnership. She has resigned as MNA CEO, effective at the end of the year.
Power metrics: Murray-Brown, 55, is responsible for 21 employees who collaborate with 300 community partners. The partnerships, she said, allowed MNA to embark on census work that is making a difference in underrepresented communities. "We got people to participate in the census and to vote for the first time."
Biggest career win: Taking a job at MNA and being able to intentionally focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.
Something recently learned: "I learned I like to be engaged in systems change and large-scale projects and that relationships are the most important things to be successful."
Advice to women in the industry: "Don't underestimate your faith, your instincts, your gut. It's there for a reason, to protect you and to guide you. Leadership is less about self and more about other people. You know how to step out of the way and support others."
Original article available here: https://www.crainsdetroit.com/awards/donna-murray-brown-2021-most-influential-women