As Co-CEO, Mellody is responsible for management, strategic planning and growth for all areas of Ariel Investments outside of research and portfolio management. Additionally, she serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Ariel Investment Trust—the company’s publicly traded mutual funds. Prior to being named Co-CEO, Mellody spent nearly two decades as the firm’s President.
Outside of Ariel, Mellody is a nationally recognized voice on financial literacy. Her leadership has also been invaluable to corporate boardrooms across the nation. She currently serves as Chair of the Board of Starbucks Corporation. She is also a director of JPMorgan Chase. She previously served as Chairman of the Board of DreamWorks Animation until the company’s sale and was also a long-standing board member of the Estée Lauder Companies. Mellody’s community outreach includes her role as Chairman of After School Matters, a Chicago non-profit that provides area teens with high-quality after school and summer programs. Additionally, she is vice chair of World Business Chicago; co-chair of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art; and a board member of the George Lucas Education Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies. She also serves on the board of trustees of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, and of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Mellody is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees, and serves on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute.
Mellody earned her AB from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy. In 2019, she was awarded the University’s highest honor, the Woodrow Wilson Award, presented annually to a Princeton graduate whose career embodies a commitment to national service. She has also received honorary doctorate degrees from Howard University, Johns Hopkins University, St. Mary’s College, and the University of Southern California. In 2015, Time Magazine named her one of the “100 Most Influential People” in the world.
Robbie Robinson is the Founder & CEO of Pendulum Holdings, LLC. Previously, Robbie was a Managing Director of BDT & Company and spent nine years at Goldman Sachs in a variety of roles in New York and Chicago, including advisory, principal investing and real estate financing. Robbie currently serves on the Board of Managers of The Wrigley Building. He is also a visiting trustee to the Board of Trustees of Morehouse College and is Vice Chairman of the Board of After School Matters. Robbie earned his BA in Political Science from Morehouse College.
Nora Daley is a long-time supporter of Chicago arts, currently serving as the Vice Chair of the Terra Foundation of American Art. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of Steppenwolf Theatre Company and is a member of the Board and executive committee of After School Matters. Daley also serves on the advisory board of the Illinois Justice Project. She received a BA in Art History from Fairfield University, and she lives in Chicago with her husband and three children.
Housing developer Elzie Higginbottom, Jr. was born on November 24, 1941 in Chicago to Elzie Higginbottom, Sr. and Katherine Skaggs Higginbottom. His parents instilled entrepreneurial and service values within him. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1965 with a B.A. in Agricultural Economics and was an accomplished athlete in men’s track and field.
Higginbottom was hired by Baird & Warner Real Estate in Chicago. While at Baird & Warner, he created and directed the Government Assisted Multifamily Finance Division, producing an annual loan volume of $50-100 million for 12 consecutive years. By 1974, Higginbottom was promoted to mortgage vice president in charge of F.H.A. financing. In 1983, Higginbottom left Baird & Warner and started East Lake Management & Development Corp., which grew to become the largest minority-owned real estate company in the state of Illinois. Higginbottom is committed to providing affordable, safe and comfortable housing to Chicagoans. He is also the first minority developer of hi-rises in the Chicago Loop and River North areas including 200 N. Dearborn and 1250 N. LaSalle. He has developed and manged several thousand units for his own company as well as for the Chicago Housing Authority and others.
In 2005, Higginbottom made the Crain’s Chicago Business list of “Who’s Who in Real Estate.” In 2000, he was inducted into the Chicago Association of Realtors Hall of Fame and is the only African-American to receive that honor. In 2004, he endowed the Higginbottom Urgent Care for Kids Unit at Mercy Hospital. Wanting to inspire young athletes, Higginbottom and Dr. Conrad Worril co-founded ‘Friends of Track and Field” in 2006. He is a board member for After School Matters in Chicago and a Trustee for Illinois Institute of Technology. He is married to Deborah Larsen and they have four children.