Living Cities is thrilled to welcome Demetric Duckett to our Capital Innovation team! Demetric joined Living Cities in July 2016 as Associate Director of Capital Innovation. He works to blend public, private and philanthropic financial resources in new ways to better meet the needs of cities and improve the lives of low-income people. He also strives to be a key thought leader in the domestic impact investing field, supporting Living Cities’ programmatic priorities and accelerating the adoption of innovative financing for the benefit of low-income people and the communities in which they live.
Prior to joining Living Cities, Demetric was Senior Vice President of Business Innovation and Resource Development for TruFund Financial Services, a CDFI based in New York City. At TruFund, he directed national business growth strategy, developed and oversaw strategic partnerships, and elaborated new lending programs and product opportunities. Prior to TruFund, he was Vice President for Capital Access Programs at Carver Federal Savings Bank in Harlem where he developed industry-leading M/W/BE capital access programs, Vice President of Community Development at Bank of America where he worked closely with nonprofit and government entities to promote economic and community development in underserved neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and Vice President and Global Relationship Manager in the Multinational Lending Division at BankBoston where he managed a $2 billion global credit portfolio spanning 16 countries. He began his finance career as a Senior Credit Analyst at PNCBank in Pittsburgh, PA.
Here, Demetric answers five questions about his career path, hopes and aspirations:
Q: Some people have personal mission statements or key questions that they are working to answer throughout their careers. Other people are driven by the idea of a “calling.” How would you describe what motivates you, and how have those things served to guide or inform your career?**
A: I believe that everyone in the world does the best that they can with what they have for what they know. This belief has allowed me to have empathy and respect, and has served as a foundation in all aspects of my life. It has also allowed me to maintain a perpetual curiosity and fascination with life, people and cultures, always seeking to understand what motivates and inspires. The beauty and benefit to me is that I have been able to lead a very rich, robust and nuanced life and career, amassing a wonderful collection of friends and colleagues across all walks of life and across the globe. This also translates into my professional career in that I have had the opportunity to work with some of the wealthiest and some of the poorest people across the globe, and have viewed them through my lens of respect. Over time, my desire to help under-served and under-resourced people “know more” and “have more” so that they can improve their own lives has steadily grown.
Q: What brought you to Living Cities? What do you find most exciting about our work?
I have a tremendous amount of respect for the bold innovation and daring thought leadership at Living Cities that pushes others in philanthropy, government and the private sector to think and act differently about the challenges facing low-income populations.
A: I came to Living Cities because I saw it as an almost fairytale place where I could actually show up with virtually every aspect of my personal and professional life and experience to help generate dramatic, innovative and timely impact in the lives of low-income people. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the bold innovation and daring thought leadership at Living Cities that pushes others in philanthropy, government and the private sector to think and act differently about the challenges facing low-income populations. It is a team that is willing to jump into the deep end of big problems, to dream dreams that envision seemingly unbelievable outcomes, and to course-correct unreservedly and unabashedly when results are less than hoped for, all while continuously and broadly sharing learnings around successes and failures with others in the space to encourage efficiency, adoption and adaptation. What could be more exciting than that?
Q: What experiences from your life, career and otherwise, do you hope to bring to Living Cities to advance our mission of achieving dramatically better and faster results for low-income people in America’s cities?
A: I was born into an African American family of very modest means in the South as the Jim Crow era was winding down. Living through various forms of societal transition– from desegregation to voting rights to affirmative action– coupled with my personal economic status gave me a front row seat to specific challenges around race and economics in this country. Thanks to the fact that I was able to obtain a strong education, live and work across various continents, and build a very solid career in global banking and finance, my economic and social status swung well away from my working class origins. As such, I have developed a profoundly personal appreciation for what low-income people, particularly people of color, have to face when trying to build a better life.
Q: What is the thing in your career that you are most proud of?
A: I am proud of and have gratitude for every element of my career, including the basic fact that I have even had a professional career at high levels of business, given the societal and economic challenges that surrounded me in my youth. However, one very specific outcome from my work stands out for me. During my time in community banking, I developed various capital access programs for underserved and disadvantaged businesses. In one program, I met a small business owner who was an ex-convict struggling to find ways to grow his contracting business. After listening to me speak about the fundamentals of credit and finance and the importance of being willing to take on business challenges and have great vision, he came to me and told me that I had completely changed his thinking. He committed to me that he would focus on getting his business and personal affairs in order so that he could qualify for the financing opportunities that I had developed, no matter how long it took. Every few months I would receive updates from him on his progress, and one day he finally qualified for a loan to help him mobilize on a significant new contract. That was the beginning of a very solid path for him and his company. Today, he hires over 100 men a year on his projects and focuses on giving opportunities to other formerly incarcerated people in hopes of helping them better their lives and provide for their families. Much like my determination in building a career without a wealth of resources, he too set out on his journey with determination, understanding that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
Q: What do you think is a trend, force or question that those who are working to harness private capital for public good should be thinking about right now?
A: The race equity and inclusion lens through which Living Cities now views all of its work represents an amazing evolution that I hope continues to expand across all sectors. Given the shifting demographics in the U.S. around race and the intersection of race and poverty, the private sector should see deploying capital to improve the lives of low-income people and communities as a form of self-interest, even if they do not simply believe it to be the right thing to do. Many of us work hard to convince those in the private sector to embody the virtues of effective and impactful philanthropy from an impassioned perspective. But I believe that the capitalist lens through which some in the private sector often view opportunity means that we may need to revisit our approach, development, and recruitment and to translate the benefits of generating dramatically better results for low-income populations in different terms.
Join us in welcoming Demetric to the team or post your own questions for him in the comment section of this blog!