The International African American Museum has opened its doors to tell an untold story of history

Credit: Jiveshot Media for Marissa Sams Events

On June 24, 2023, Macquarie joined in celebrating the opening of the International African American Museum (IAAM) in Charleston, South Carolina, at Gadsden’s Wharf, one of the local sites where an estimated forty per cent of enslaved Africans arrived in the US in the 18th century.

“After decades of planning and hard work, we are thrilled to officially open IAAM to the public,” said Dr. Tonya Matthews, President and CEO of IAAM. “We welcome everyone to visit us at IAAM — to honor the untold story of the African American people and simultaneously experience the sensations of trauma and joy that are woven together through our exhibitions.”

Macquarie has long supported this museum and the story it tells. As a Founding Funder of the museum, our people raised more than $US1.4 million – including funds matched by the Macquarie Group Foundation – over the last five years to support its creation.

A delegation of dedicated Macquarie employees had the pleasure of celebrating the grand opening of this important cultural institution. 

It was an honor to attend this event and represent the many Macquarie employees who dedicated their time and resources to this important repository of an often-untold chapter in our nation’s story. I’m thrilled that people from all walks of life will be able to come here to learn about the true history of African Americans in this country.”

Chris Michel
Head of Talent and Inclusion, Americas
Macquarie Group

The start of our support

Macquarie first became involved with the museum through David Agnew, Head of Government Affairs for Macquarie Asset Management in the Americas.

Prior to joining Macquarie, David was a senior advisor to then-Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. In 2000, Mayor Riley first publicly proposed that the city tell its true history through a museum that illuminates long-ignored and seldom-told stories of African American experiences.

US Representative Jim Clyburn (centre) pictured with Macquarie colleagues Elias Alcantara, Pritha Mittal, Antoinette Robbins and Kisha Shabazz.

When David joined Macquarie over a decade after Mayor Riley’s initial proposal, the museum had yet to open, and David searched for ways Macquarie could support the cause. He engaged the Macquarie Group Foundation for help with outreach, staff engagement and fundraising. 

For many, Charleston has a cultural significance similar to Ellis Island, but it is largely unknown across America and around the world. I believe this museum will help change that and I’m thrilled to have Macquarie’s support in contributing to this worthy cause.”

David Agnew
Head of Government Affairs, Americas
Macquarie Asset Management

David spread awareness of the museum amongst staff by joining two employee network groups – Unity and Black Employees at Macquarie (BE@M). He saw Unity – our multicultural employee network group – and BEAM - our collective of Black employees, advocates and allies – as perfect staff communities to champion this cause within Macquarie.


Our ongoing engagement 

Over the last five years, our people across the Americas organised events from Jacksonville to Philadelphia and established a cross-regional coalition of senior-level executive sponsors to raise awareness of the museum’s opening and help raise critical funds.

“Macquarie is pleased to support this museum’s important work celebrating diversity and sharing the history of the African American experience,” says Pritha Mittal, Head of the Macquarie Group Foundation for the Americas. 

During our annual Foundation Week in 2020, a week-long celebration of fundraising and volunteer initiatives globally, staff from Macquarie Asset Management hosted a discussion led by Senior Manager Antoinette Robbins in our Philadelphia office, where Mayor Riley and actress Evie McGee-Colbert – a Charlotte native – spoke about the cultural significance of the museum.

In 2018, Heather Stelmack, Assistant Vice President in Macquarie’s Financial Management Group and active Unity member, hosted a rooftop reception in Jacksonville to raise funds for the museum’s opening. Brenda Tindal, former Director of Education and Engagement at IAAM, spoke at the reception about the importance of the museum and recited Sojourner Truth’s famous ‘Ain’t I A Woman’ speech.

“Hearing directly from Brenda was very moving. It was a great opportunity to connect with the story, and there was a lot of interest in it,” said Anthony Glenn, Head of Macquarie’s Jacksonville office. 

Our commitment to a representative workforce

As a global organisation, we respect the importance, necessity and benefit of cultural diversity in the workforce. Across the Americas, we strive to ensure our workplaces are representative of the unique backgrounds and perspectives of our people. 

Macquarie staff – Chris Michel, Pritha Mittal, Kisha Shabazz, Antoinette Robbins, Elias Alcantara – pictured at the museum’s opening night celebration in Charleston, SC.

We are growing our talent pipeline of Black and Latine students across our offices through partnerships with a range of non-profit organisations. We provide support, advocacy, safe spaces and education through our employee network groups – connecting and empowering colleagues of different races, ethnicities and cultures. Through our Inclusive Leadership Masterclasses and Speaker series, we support our people in building inclusive and comprehensive leadership capabilities. 

The Macquarie Group Foundation plays an important role in how Macquarie lives out its purpose, empowering people to innovate and invest for a better future.

In 2020, the Macquarie Group Foundation launched the Racial Equity Fund (REF), committing to supporting direct relief programs, research and policy, education and economic equity initiatives that promote a more just and inclusive future for all people. To date, Macquarie has awarded thirteen REF grants in cities across the US. Nine of those grants have been awarded to community organisations nominated by our people, and four of these grants are funding multi-year programs.

The IAAM strives to collectively reframe our view of the past and usher in a new era understanding for the future. Like the IAAM, Macquarie is committed to creating a better future for our people, partners, clients and communities. To do that, we recognise we too must better understand and learn from our past.