Congratulations Danielle Sydnor, 2019 Crain’s Cleveland Business 40 Under 40
First job: “When I got my first job at MBNA and I walked in and they showed me my headset and cubicle, I had to call my mom about it. My parents always had an office, so I had a false perception what it meant to have a job.”
On being a Bridge Builder: “What I think you get out of (the program) is a greater awareness of community and the things that are happening. It was an opportunity for me to meet more folks across different sectors of Cleveland, and to get ideas about why there are sometimes disconnects between corporate and nonprofit, and black and white, and older and younger.”
Danielle Sydnor’s impressive career in finance includes positions at Bank of America MBNA, Merrill Lynch and PNC.
But during her stretch in retail banking, she found she was spending more time educating prospective clients about finance and financial products than selling those products.
“I thought, ‘Why do I continue to do this if my passion is really to educate people to make better financial choices and decisions?’ ” she recalled. “I just did not feel that my job was honoring who I was as a person.”
Now, as executive director at the Economic Community Development Institute, Sydnor spends her time assisting underserved people and communities to assess their credit and acquire funds, in the form of microloans ranging from $750 to $350,000.
“You should be willing to take risks and that is why I have continued to move in my career,” said Sydnor, who grew up working in the family-owned printshop. “My dad was never afraid to take a chance and that was instilled in all of us.”
Her entrepreneurial drive is matched by her community involvement. Sydnor chairs the board for Eliza Bryant Village and is president of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP, where she has pushed to foster better intergenerational communication and build stronger relationships in the community.
Working on the nonprofit side of the financial industry, allows her to “effect change in the lives of individuals I care about,” she said. “ECDI does not feel like a job sometimes because I’m meeting with people I know. This is my network.” — Kim Palmer