Everett, CEO, Gruntal & Co., Philanthropist, CUNY Trustee
After teaching elementary school and staying home to raise my
children, the pivotal point was changing careers to work in the
investment business. I had no formal training and it was very
different from what I was doing before. But, it added a dimension
to my knowledge base and that was very important.
I had the opportunity to use the background of the education and
business worlds together in a meaningful way when I was invited
to sit on the City University Board of Trustees. That brought
me back to my basic, first and probably over-riding interest,
which is education.
Working in the investment field was an opportunity for women.
There were very few of us in the business at the time. If you
were a broker, as I was, you were a kind of independent entrepreneur
and if you developed the clientele, it didn’t matter if you were
a man or a woman. In the early days I used to do a lot of independent
research and speak to company presidents. It was interesting because
to some extent they were disarmed by a woman and I often felt
that they were more forthcoming with me than they would be with
a hard pressing male caller. I encountered few obstacles.
Later, as my career advanced, there were the ups and downs in
the market. One of the difficult things in this recent year was
realizing the excesses in the market. It was hard to sit back,
see stocks rising continuously and knowing that something was
wrong. It took a lot of diligence to say, “I will not fall into
that trap and will protect my people because they cannot afford
to lose their money.”
I would say from a professional point of view in the financial
business it was clearly my husband who was the most helpful. I
learned a great deal from him (he is an economist and has an MBA
in finance) because my formal education was not in that field.
I really had to apply myself and study independently. It’s hard
to point to mentors in my life, frankly. I do believe that people
have important impacts on other peoples lives, but I can’t point
to any single one. My parents were wonderful: supportive, thoughtful,
and loving. They were very important to me in terms of who they
were, what they stood for and their value system and their love.
These are the things that gave me the courage to try the things
that I have tried and to be bold in places where I needed to be
bold over the years.
I think that the non-business aspects of my life are the most
satisfying ones. From the business point of view I am very pleased
that we developed strong relationships with clients. I think that
the most important thing that happened—both in philanthropy and
in business– was the level of trust that we were able to engender.
My clients knew I was doing the very best I could do for them.
I tried to be thoughtful in terms of their needs. I don’t think
I’ve ever lost a client. When you have relationships like that
you feel very good.
In general, in my personal life and philanthropic life we’ve been
multiply blessed. We are fortunate to have two wonderful children
and three lovely grandchildren. My husband and I work closely
together and have a common value system. Our philanthropic life
has been exceedingly rewarding. In terms of education, which is
my first love, at CUNY I was able to be helpful on various projects
and speak up on behalf of students and that was a wonderful opportunity
I am now working on a new education initiative through CUNY, which
is designed to restructure public school administration. Administrators
will be trained to take care of financial and administrative matters
so that the principal can focus on educational leadership. The
big problem for teachers these days is that no one supports them.
We need that knowledgeable principal in the classroom to work
with teachers and help hone their skills. We thought fourteen
years ago it would be important to encourage college students
to look at the nonprofit world as a possible profession. We provided
the opportunities for them to work at organizations and paid them
for 10 weeks over the summer. Today, 200 interns work at 60 nonprofit
organizations as a result of this program. [Everettinternships.org]
Young people should understand that in order to succeed they need
to become knowledgeable and be prepared to work hard. The person
who stays at the job the extra half hour to get it done, is the
one who will be noticed. Young people have to know when to speak
up and when to wait for the right moment.
I want to do more philanthropic work. It gives us a great deal
of personal satisfaction. It’s extraordinarily gratifying to say
‘yes we can impact.’ We try to convince other people, especially
young people, that they have the capacity to be philanthropic.
Irrespective of one’s resources, each person can do things that
can make a difference.
In the next couple of years I will leave the investment business
to others. Having worked full time throughout my adult life I
have not had a chance to do many things. I’d love to have more
time to visit museums and take courses in subjects just for my
general interest and pleasure that don’t have direct outcomes.
Maybe a philosophy or science course.
[Among the many programs that have benefited from the Everett’s
largesse is the Everett Lounge at Teachers College, the Everett
Children’s Garden at the NY Botanical Gardens, Teach for America,
the National Board of Hillel, a school grades 1-12 that they built
and maintain currently in a small town in Israel, and the Everett
Performing Arts Center of Dance Theater of Harlem.]#
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