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Maggie  Anderson

Maggie Anderson

Author, Our Black Year & Founder, Empowerment Experiment


Maggie Anderson and her family made history and dominated headlines as global media covered their year-long stand living exclusively off businesses, professionals, and products from the Black community for an entire year. This first-ever real-life case study in self-help economics was called The Empowerment Experiment (EE). Their experiment resulted in a landmark study conducted by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business. Their stand and study proved how incremental support of these businesses and professionals can rescue the Black community and improve the American economy as a whole. Read More >

Maggie, the first-generation American daughter of Cuban immigrants, has a BA in Political Science from Emory University; and earned a Juris Doctor (JD) and Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Chicago, where President Barack Obama was her law professor and mentor. Before the experiment, she was an aide to civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, the speechwriter for the Mayor of Atlanta, and a corporate strategy executive at McDonald’s Corporation.

Since the experiment, Margarita has become the face of a conscious consumerism movement uniting consumers and corporations of all kinds, and the quality Black-owned businesses that can rescue struggling communities and provide role models to at-risk youth. A sought-after speaker, she tours the country inspiring more consumer and corporate engagement of unsung, top quality African American professionals and firms. Recently chosen by BET and Centric as one of the “16 Most Fascinating Women of 2016”, Maggie has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS News Hour, TV One, and CBS Morning News, among many other national television and radio shows…and uses her growing platform to increase awareness about economic inequalities that starve Black neighborhoods, breed racism and disenfranchisement, prevent business and entrepreneurial opportunity and growth, and how proactive, strategic investment in wealth building tools and support of Black-owned businesses can create jobs, curb crime, eradicate poverty, drive entrepreneurial and educational achievement, and grow the economy.

Maggie is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, Our Black Year. Publishers Weekly called it “Dynamite!” and “an effective probe into how African Americans spend so much money that overwhelmingly leaves their communities.” Library Journal raved, “Anderson’s book successfully illuminates the racial divide that continues to persist in the U.S. economy...appeals to those looking for inspiration to effect positive change in their communities.” Book Page added that Maggie Anderson’s story was “Blistering. Honest…Offering clear-eyed perspective on how African Americans got to where they are today and what they can do to support black business owners.” Business and community leaders like Cathy Hughes, Marc Morial, and Alfred Edmond, have also praised Maggie’s stand and their endorsements appear on the cover of her book. Edmond states, “the Andersons’ economic odyssey is nothing short of heroic.” “Thank God for this level of commitment to our Black community,” said Cathy Hughes.

Maggie is creating Maggie’s List (www.MaggiesList.com) to help consumers of all backgrounds empower struggling communities by supporting the high-quality, local Black-owned businesses and banks; professionals, such as insurance agents, doctors, lawyers, accountants, contractors, realtors, mechanics, plumbers, etc.; as well as Black franchisees, dealers, suppliers, vendors, and agents.

 Maggie lives in Oak Park, Illinois with her husband John (AB, Economics, Harvard University, 1993; MBA, Finance, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, 1999) and their two girls, Cori and Cara, ten and eleven. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

TEDx: My Black Year

TEDx: Economic Lifespan of a Dollar

Northwestern University MLK Keynote

The Empowerment Experiment

Speech Topics

The Empowerment Experiment: My Year of Buying Black

In 2009, the Andersons - an Ivy league-educated, professional suburban couple with two young daughters - made history when they carried out a public pledge to completely live off black business for an entire year. It was called "The Empowerment Experiment." Via press coverage, the compelling story of the Andersons' stand and sacrifice, and the credibility of the landmark experiment, the family was able to articulate and prove the importance of self-help economics in the black community as well as increase awareness of how the lack of support for black businesses and professionals leads to the social crises that disproportionately impact black families and neighborhoods. Read More >

In this speech, Maggie Anderson shares the lessons learned from her book, Our Black Year, delivering an inspirational and intelligent message about homespun economic empowerment and "conscious consumerism." Her expertise in entrepreneurship, consumerism, economic empowerment, community stewardship, activism, supplier diversity, and self-help economics fuels this fascinating speech. Read Less ^

Conscious Consumerism: Make a Difference with Your Dollars

There are 60 KFC franchises in the Chicago Area and not one of them is black-owned. Companies ranging from fast food chains to Polo Ralph Lauren make enormous amounts of money off the black dollar, yet none of it is divested back to that community by engaging black-owned businesses. While marketing and HR have finally extended their reach to include African Americans - even prominently featuring black individuals in their ad campaigns, for instance - the same is not reciprocated in supply and management. Read More >

Maggie Anderson has become the leader of a self-help economics (or "conscious consumerism") movement that brings together business owners, consumers, corporations, and professional and activist groups to make sure that more quality minority-owned businesses get supported - as stand-alone entities and as suppliers, vendors, and franchises. Conscious consumerism, she explains, is all about supporting businesses that empower struggling communities. In this talk, Anderson rallies conscious consumers and progressive corporations alike to support and grow quality minority businesses in order to put the community's wealth back into its underserved neighborhoods, and explains why this outlook is so important - not just to minority communities, but to America as a whole. Read Less ^

Race & the Economy

In today's economy, one of the nation's primary goals should be to create more jobs for minority groups disproportionately affected by the financial downturn. In so doing, we would not only begin to bridge the economic gap between white and ethnic communities, but also invest traditionally troubled communities with empowered leaders engaged in the market economy who youth could look up to, instead of turning to drug lords and gang heads for guidance. Read More >

In this speech, Maggie Anderson covers such fascinating and underexplored topics as America's racially divided economy, the lack of supplier diversity in corporate America, economic disenfranchisement of minority groups, buying power vs. business/economic power, and self-help economics in ethnic communities. Specifically, on this last subject, she discusses whether or not it is racist for specific ethnic groups to exclusively support their communities' businesses, and whether public opinion on this matter changes with regard to the black community versus other groups. This message is perfect for college audiences of any color to inspire them to become those leaders who will improve their communities. Read Less ^

A Call to Women: Find Your Cause

First and foremost, Maggie Anderson considers herself a mom - an "everyday mom," she says. But however "everyday" she may be, she found one cause dear to her heart and spurred by a conviction that she could do something about it, created a transnational movement. Read More >

In this inspirational presentation, Anderson urges all women to find their cause. Whether they are mothers, housewives, professionals, or working moms, women should not feel constricted to solely caring for their families or immediate social spheres, but should feel empowered to act for the good of the greater community. After all, the ultimate legacy of The Empowerment Experiment is to prove to individuals from all walks of life that a single person can make a difference, just as Anderson did. This message is perfect for women's groups and college students. Read Less ^