Mike Klowden

Published October 23, 2020.

From the CEO

In recent months, against the backdrop of the Covid- 19 pandemic, another crisis demanded our attention. Sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other instances of police mistreatment of Black citizens, our society is focusing on the shame and sheer waste of human lives, both in American history and in our present reality. As individuals have examined their own behavior and attitudes, so, too, have organizations.

At the Milken Institute, we are intently analyzing what more we can and should do in our internal practices to promote more equal opportunities and outcomes, both in hiring and in developing existing staff. We’ve already made it a priority to increase gender representation among the speakers at our signature events, and we are intensifying our efforts to bring people of color – and the issues of their concern – into our events. For me personally, it’s been very satisfying to see our team members eagerly volunteer to speed these efforts.

Helping our society to expand opportunities for all is not a new idea at the Institute. Our specific mission includes spurring efforts to contain chronic illnesses that disproportionately impact people of color, as well as advancing access to education, jobs and capital that increase economic opportunity for everyone.

Two decades ago, a time in which investors were looking to fast-growing overseas economies as a source of opportunity, we identified what we called “emerging domestic markets” – sectors of the U.S. economy largely composed of minority populations that lagged in development – and worked to encourage pension funds and other institutions to invest. More recently, we have partnered with the Small Business Administration to create the Partnership for Lending in Underserved Markets, with the goal of promoting initiatives to more effectively provide capital to minority-owned businesses. We’ve also been a leader in helping policymakers, investors and community leaders to transform the promise of the opportunity zone incentives that were part of the tax legislation in 2017 into tangible gains in income and employment.

Like nearly every other organization in our country, we haven’t done enough. But as we rededicate ourselves to the vital mission of expanding opportunity and fostering prosperity for those who have been left out, our engagement, expertise and experience in these areas is a strong foundation for moving forward.

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Michael Klowden, CEO