MAKE YOUR MARK
Being born and raised in Milwaukee makes Brianna an expert on cheese. She will tell you cheese made on a Wisconsin dairy farm tastes completely different from any other cheese. Not only is Brianna a passionate “cheesehead”, but she is also passionate about her community.
Her experience growing up in Milwaukee, which was a segregated city, was formative for her drive to improve housing equity. Her parents, both teachers, often shared their experiences on how race and socioeconomic status impact education. Their perspectives combined with her Christian values created who she is today: a senior professional working toward a more equitable housing finance system and prioritizing volunteerism along the way.
What first led you to work at Freddie Mac?
A: I first learned about Freddie Mac from a mentor I had in college. I was part of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute, which allowed me to explore different career avenues through mentorship and internship programs. I obtained a summer internship with Merrill Lynch and originally was set on working there after graduation.
Then my mentor told me about some programs at Freddie Mac, as she knew someone who worked here, and I became interested in the company. The programs got my attention because they were built on shared values of service, housing and volunteerism.
I applied to my first role and was invited to Freddie Day. That was when I learned more about Asset Management, which seemed like a good fit for my business management degree.
What do you enjoy most about working at Freddie Mac and your current role?
A: It’s the opportunities for me! You really can chart your own path here. Shortly after starting at Freddie Mac, I joined the Arise Business Resource Group and its leadership team. This allowed me to engage in enjoyable volunteer work that also helped develop my professional skills and expand my network.
After attending a leadership panel discussion, I gained an additional mentor within the company who helped me identify where I wanted to take my career. I started out as a real estate analyst and I’m now a Multifamily Housing equity senior, a role that did not exist prior to 2021.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank mentors like Sharon Stokes and Sarah Edmonds, who have supported me since day one in the college hire program. Their advice and mentorship helped with my journey from college student to a position where I engage with community organizations and see firsthand the fruits of our labor. They are a true example of why so many employees say “it’s the people” that make it enjoyable to work at Freddie Mac.
In addition to finding a role that fit me better, I had the opportunity to further diversify the college hire program across the enterprise. I met with several directors and our former Chief Human Resources Officer to establish a pilot program that improved our collaboration with Historically Black Universities and Colleges (HBCUs).
What makes a good ally?
A: To be a good ally, people must understand why allyship is needed and that they can’t live in a bubble, because eventually the bubble will pop. Just like the economy of one country affects another, how equitable a given society is affects everyone in it, whether they realize it or not.
Being an ally is being invested both in others and yourself, especially in situations where others have challenges you don’t or worse, where you benefit from any kind of inequity. We’ve all heard it takes a village to raise a child. That concept applies on a larger scale; if it takes a village to raise one baby, how many more people are needed to correct a society that doesn’t provide the same opportunities for every child?
What advice would you share on bringing your full self to work?
A: You need to know who you are before you come to work in order to bring your full self when you show up. If you aren’t clear and firm on your identity before you join a large organization, you can get caught up in the rivers that are already flowing and may take on aspects of work that aren’t truly aligned with your authentic self.
Please share your thoughts on Black History Month.
A: I appreciate a month of focus on Black history, from schools to media and more. It’s important to recognize Black history is American history. If we don’t understand and acknowledge where we’ve been, we won’t know where we’re headed, causing coming generations to experience the same racially driven violence that took place in the past. It’s our responsibility to walk the path laid by those who came before us — Martin Luther King, Jr., Shirley Chisholm and others — leaders who fought for equality and built allyship, through both words and actions.
For this Black History Month, and for an equitable society overall, I want everyone who reads this to be motivated to do what truly matters to them. Like the historic leaders we look up to, taking action today is how you make history in your lifetime. Whether it’s something you’ve been putting on the backburner or you’re lacking confidence to get started, what you feel deeply convicted about is valid and you should dedicate time and effort to honor it.
Secondly, I encourage everyone to take advantage of opportunities available to them — there are so many people, projects, and places you fit with, as well as opportunities you can create. Don’t be afraid to leave what’s comfortable for something more valuable. Lastly, find a mentor, and once you’ve done that, be a mentor. The doors you walk through are the ones you should hold open for others.