Martina Edwards is an accomplished business professional, who has whose turned her private equity career into public capital gains. Currently, as the Chief of Strategic Partnerships for Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), she’s tasked with fundraising for the nonprofit organization that lends to small businesses in Georgia.
Edwards says her professional path has been a journey. Her broad experiences across financial services and nonprofit leadership have stretched her capabilities and challenged her in varying ways.
“I’ve appreciated being able to shift and think differently and being comfortable with being uncomfortable,” she says.
The proud Tuskegee University alumna was a finance major and left her southern roots to start working on the New York Stock Exchange. She made history, becoming the first African American female broker to trade for Merrill Lynch. It was 13 thirteen years before another black female trader took the floor.
For the 40-year-old, community is the place synonymous with home in the heart. Not where she is physically, but carrying with her a love and pride for her family roots in Montgomery, Alabama, A.L., the Tuskegee community, or even New York. She also sees it as the place where one can make a difference.
“Wherever you are, trying to be a part of solutions for issues that are impacting your family or community at that point in time. Being able to use the power of your own agency to impart change,” she says.
In addition to her intermediate family, Edwards counts friends and great leaders as people she’s grateful for. Her family, who has laid the foundation for her values of how to treat others. Her circle, who has pushed her and prayed for her. And then the people she’s reported to over the years who have recognized the talent she’s overlooked within herself. She is truly living her calling.
“I appreciate having folks who are understanding enough to say it’s time for you to stretch beyond what we can offer you here,” she says, adding that . She says ACE’s CEO always encourages her that she is enough. And finally, the kindness of a stranger named Darlene Riviera who came to her aid when she was a 22 years old in -year old in New York during 9/11. During an uncertain and scary time for the whole country, she offered shelter and prayer.
Edwards notices a tremendous amount of activity in Atlanta. She appreciates being part of the fabric of what’s moving the city forward. Whether it’s through her role at ACE, working with their clients across 68 counties, or whether by giving back, serving as a member of the Leadership Council for Junior Achievement of Georgia, the Advisory Board for Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership and the board for Atlanta Beltline 67.
“I have a passion around access and opportunity,” she says. “How can I figure out how to help other people be their better selves or their best selves, and help to change the trajectory of their careers and lives by utilizing the talents and gifts that God has given me?”