Driving Diversity Through Democratization

Ryan Williams and Bill Lewis discuss breaking barriers in finance, and announce Harvard’s investment in Cadre.

Published on Aug 19, 2021
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Cadre’s Founder and CEO Ryan Williams recently joined his mentor, William (“Bill”) M. Lewis, Jr., Managing Director and Co-Chairman of Investment Banking at Lazard and a member of the Harvard Management Company’s Board of Directors, for a fireside chat at Cadre’s New York City location. With an invited audience in attendance, the two discussed the systemic changes needed in financial services, and how institutions such as Harvard can be intentional about their diverse-led investments.

“It’s never too early to start giving back.”

-Bill Lewis, Managing Director and Co-Chairman of Investment Banking at Lazard; Member of the Harvard Management Company’s Board of Directors.

Bill Lewis’ rise may appear meteoric on the surface, but it was assuredly not an easy one in the decades following desegregation. He was born in 1956, two years after Brown v. Board of Education. Lewis attended all-Black public schools in Richmond, Virginia, a city which was slow to adopt the landmark ruling. Through a program called A Better Chance, which was new at the time, Lewis was admitted to Phillips Academy Andover for high school. From there he went on to Harvard University. Lewis concentrated on Economics at Harvard, only deciding to pursue finance instead of academia while drafting his senior thesis.

That decision was a stroke of good luck, both for Lewis and the leaders who came up under him. Lewis became the youngest-ever Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, and the first Black person to hold that title. “In many ways I am a product of the modern Civil Rights Movement,” he observed. From that point on, he has focused his career and lifelong philanthropic efforts on helping guide others to success.

Lewis started to pay forward the opportunities he was given at age 22, serving on the board for the group that originally changed his trajectory: A Better Chance. He originated and continues to support programs for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that offer hands-on education and internships. “It’s never too early to start giving back,” Lewis told those gathered for Cadre’s fireside chat.

In many ways, Williams, a fellow Harvard alum, has made giving back the very foundation of his business. Williams, originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, worked at Goldman Sachs and Blackstone prior to founding Cadre in 2014. His company’s mission is to help make real estate more accessible, transparent and affordable to a greater number of investors. It’s a goal that has attracted a wide range of institutional investors, including Harvard.

“Cadre brings a different sort of wrinkle to real estate investing,” Lewis noted, as he discussed what made Williams’ firm so compelling to Harvard, who recently invested with Cadre. Despite the progress made since Lewis started in the industry, there is still a great deal of work to be done. “I'm talking about creating change. The status quo is just so easy,” Lewis reminded the audience that day. “The intentions are really, really good, but this is hard work to create sustainable opportunities. It really does require people to be a real pain in the butt.”

To learn more about Cadre’s investment philosophy and the leaders working to build a foundation of diversity, inclusion and equality in the investment management industry, watch the full fireside chat.


Educational Communication
Not AdviceThe views expressed above are presented only for educational and informational purposes and are subject to change in the future. No specific securities or services are being promoted or offered herein.

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This communication is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice in relation to the relevant subject matter; investors must seek their own legal or other professional advice.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Any historical returns, expected returns, or probability projections are not guaranteed and may not reflect actual future performance.

Risk of Loss
All securities involve a high degree of risk and may result in partial or total loss of your investment.

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Investments offered by Cadre are illiquid and there is never any guarantee that you will be able to exit your investments on the Secondary Market or at what price an exit (if any) will be achieved.

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The Cadre Secondary Market is NOT a stock exchange or public securities exchange, there is no guarantee of liquidity and no guarantee that the Cadre Secondary Market will continue to operate or remain available to investors.

Opportunity Zones Disclosure
Any discussion regarding “Opportunity Zones” ⁠— including the viability of recycling proceeds from a sale or buyout ⁠— is based on advice received regarding the interpretation of provisions of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “Jobs Act”) and relevant guidances, including, among other things, two sets of proposed regulations and the final regulations issued by the IRS and Treasury Department in December of 2019. A number of unanswered questions still exist and various uncertainties remain as to the interpretation of the Jobs Act and the rules related to Opportunity Zones investments. We cannot predict what impact, if any, additional guidance, including future legislation, administrative rulings, or court decisions will have and there is risk that any investment marketed as an Opportunity Zone investment will not qualify for, and investors will not realize the benefits they expect from, an Opportunity Zone investment. We also cannot guarantee any specific benefit or outcome of any investment made in reliance upon the above.

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