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Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Fundsters Golf to Support DEI

Reported by Andrew Lusk

An asset and wealth management industry trade group recently hosted their inaugural golf classic for the recognition of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the industry. From this firm, a pair of top staff members tell MFWire that this event will provide generous funding for a foundation within the group which seeks to promote underrepresented candidates in middle-management.

Sarit Abramowicz
Money Management Institute
First Vice President, Director of the MMI Gateway Foundation
The very first Opening Doors Golf Classic was hosted at the Hudson National Golf Club in Croton-On-Hudson, New York on August 30 by the Money Management Institute (MMI), to benefit the group's Gateway Foundation for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Sold out in its inaugural year, the event was a smashing success, according to the New York City-based trade group's chief.

"The reason [this] was created is because for a long time, we've been building the Gateway Foundation, both the capital and the programming, on the backs of the individuals at MMI," MMI president and CEO Craig Pfeiffer explains to MFWire. "We were well-intended people who cared about the cause, and we'd have dinners and golf groups and auctions, and we'd raise five or ten thousand dollars for the cause — but all at the individual donor level."

Pfeiffer continues, "As things really got strategically advanced, we decided to hire a full-time program director — someone like Sarit."

Sarit Abramowicz joined MMI in April as first vice president and director of the Gateway Foundation, bringing with her more than a decade of experience in non-profits and higher education.

The Gateway Foundation focuses on bringing minority candidates into the middle-management space. The idea is to give those candidates opportunities for further advancement that may otherwise be difficult to attain in a historically white space.

The foundation's inaugural golf event included ninety total golfers playing eighteen holes, with additional attendees at the evening's dinner. The featured speaker at the evening event was Golf Channel Reporter Todd Lewis.

Abramowicz explains, "It was a great way to bring people together for this cause ... a nice carrot, a beautiful golf event in a lovely location."

For many event attendees, the Gateway Foundation director notes, this was an actionable event for DEI initiatives and a way to give attendees a solid way to contribute to the initiatives that uplift underrepresented members of the financial services space.

As for what might change next year, Pfeiffer notes that this inaugural event was so successful that the team is more focused on replicating and expanding on their efforts than altering them. "You always learn lessons, but it was more about the napkins and the chicken," he jokes.

"The things that we took away, that we want to accelerate and enhance," he says, "are engagement with the communities ... We desperately needed to bring color to this Caucasian event. It's that simple, that frank, and we did."

With diversifying the event itself in mind, the MMI team reached out to the PGA tour through their First Tee program, started by Tiger Woods in 1997.

Pfeiffer says of First Tee, "It's an inner-city program that's forty percent about golf, sixty percent about integrity and personal development ... We have become fast friends with the [program]."

At the very first tee of the event, a First Tee representative from the organization's Connecticut chapter could hit your first tee for you if you so chose.

On the sixteenth hole of the Opening Doors classic, Rosa Jones — a First Tee alumna, former member of the varsity golf team at Howard University, and professional golf development advocate — coached attendees through their swings.

"I came from the non-profit and higher education space ... so I had that relationship with the wider Columbia University network, and through that, we were able to partner with Columbia Business School's Black business student association," adds Abramowicz. "We were able to invite some of their students to attend this as well as a networking opportunity. Our attendees, the participants and sponsors, are all looking to hire a diverse talent."

In the future, Abramowicz hopes to add to and enhance the networking opportunities available through the event.

Pfeiffer explains that the team plans to add new locations to the event, including Chicago. "We're not bound to anywhere," he says. "That's part of the attraction."

For Abramowicz, the main takeaways of the Opening Doors classic were fundraising, connecting, and getting the word out about future MMI events and initiatives. "[We want] participants and sponsors to know what Gateway is about, what our story is, and that we're thinking strategically moving forward." 

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