Angela Burruss on Creating an Ecosystem that Moves the Needle
At Nasdaq, our Purpose is to champion inclusive growth and prosperity. We power stronger economies, create more equitable opportunities, and contribute to a more sustainable world to help our communities, clients, employees and people of all backgrounds reach their full potential.
We spoke with Angela Burruss, Director of Projects and Programs for Purpose and the Nasdaq Foundation, about her mission to move the needle in our communities as a leader of Nasdaq’s Purpose.
Talk to us about your role at Nasdaq as the Director of Projects and Programs for Purpose and the Nasdaq Foundation. What does it entail, and how did you choose this career trajectory?
As the Director of Projects and Programs for Purpose and the Nasdaq Foundation, my role is to identify opportunities for Nasdaq to champion inclusive growth and prosperity. This includes researching, planning and developing partnerships and programs aimed to remove the systemic barriers faced by under-represented communities in their efforts to generate and sustain wealth.
A purpose driven-career has a deeper meaning and sense of value attached to it. I am a woman of color, born and raised among the under-represented community we seek to support. Knowing that my contributions and curated initiatives designed to close the wealth gap will help make a difference for my children, family and the community I live in is what sets and keeps me on this path.
How would you explain what Purpose is to someone outside of Nasdaq?
Purpose is why we exist. It gives meaning to the work we do here at Nasdaq and the difference we want to make in the world. Nasdaq’s Purpose is to drive inclusive growth and prosperity. As a purpose-driven organization, Nasdaq desires to level the playing field for both entrepreneurs and investors by making capital markets work for the benefit of all people across society. In order to champion inclusive growth and prosperity, our philanthropic, corporate sustainability and employee volunteerism goals must be aligned. By helping diverse entrepreneurs strengthen and scale their businesses and providing under-represented communities with the financial knowledge, confidence and market access they need to participate in long-term wealth creation, we are fundamentally contributing to the prosperity of society.
What are the ways you scale whether a partner is a good fit for Nasdaq?
The Foundation collaborates with organizations that can help build a deeper, data-led understanding of where the challenges are greatest, what existing efforts could be amplified, and how the Foundation can make new and distinctive contributions. When considering collaborative opportunities, we evaluate an organization’s
capacity and expertise to successfully leverage Nasdaq Foundation funding. An organization’s track record and reputation in the community it aims to serve, as well as the intended impact with the Nasdaq Foundation funds, are also considered.
Our mission is not to check the “grant-giving” box but to develop scalable relationships with organizations that produce programs that could be duplicated elsewhere or scaled to serve more people.
What are your goals for the Purpose?
Simple answer: To move the needle!
When previously asked this question earlier in the year, I stated that my main goal is to bring Nasdaq’s Purpose to life by nurturing programs, partnerships and initiatives that align with our Purpose and make an impact within our targeted communities. I also try to identify collaborative opportunities that can help the Nasdaq Foundation. We want to build a deeper, data-led understanding of where the challenges are greatest, how existing efforts could be amplified, and how we can address inequities in new and distinctive ways.
Purpose helps us in this; it leverages Nasdaq’s unique place at the center of capital creation, markets, and technology to support women and under-represented minority communities. As a woman of color that identifies with this targeted demographic, I am passionate about the Foundation’s focus and efforts to help them find the resources needed to grow and sustain their businesses.
We have since doubled down on our efforts. Our quarterly grant cycle is up and running, and this year it has funded projects with various purpose-driven organizations. In addition, the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center is a flagship social investment to support inclusive and equitable entrepreneurship. Building upon research the Foundation funded from Commonwealth and Aspen FSP, we are now embarking on the next piece of our strategic delivery: a flagship program focused on empowering diverse investors.
It’s an ambitious goal that we cannot accomplish alone or overnight, but we can create an ecosystem that is designed to move the needle.
What is your advice for people or companies trying to drive a company’s purpose?
An effective corporate purpose influences the company’s culture, financial value, employee and customer engagement, which will place your organization in a stronger position to drive greater impact. I think that it is important to make sure that your company’s purpose is clearly communicated, directly linked to the company’s core business strategy and where you can have a unique, positive impact on society.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.
Nasdaq's call to advance economic progress for all has never been stronger, nor more urgent than it is today.