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Martina  Edwards

Martina Edwards

One of Wall Street’s First Black Women Traders & Chief of Strategic Partnerships, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE)


From humble Southern beginnings to breaking barriers on Wall Street, Martina Marshall Edwards is the epitome of not allowing your circumstances to determine your outcome. A finance major and graduate from Tuskegee University, a historically black college and university, Edwards went on to hold a prestigious historical title. Read More >

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) was a dynamic, fast-paced, male-dominated environment with high stakes trading activity, a steep learning curve, and little to no room for error where she thrived. In 2004, after three years and two promotions, she earned a unique opportunity to become a member of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on behalf of Merrill Lynch making her the first-ever Black woman equity trader for the NYSE in its 225-year history and also for her firm Merrill Lynch.

Martina is a walking example of how access can dramatically shift the trajectory of a career. Many have asked “How did the little girl who grew up in a 2-bedroom mobile home in rural Alabama with livestock in the backyard make it to the Big Apple, let alone the Big Board?” Known as the “Belle of Wall Street,” Martina is an inspiring and dynamic speaker. From financial hardships growing up to reporting to the NYSE the week of 9/11, Martina is no stranger to adversity. She adamantly believes that every twist and turn molded and shaped her into the resilient individual and strong leader that she is today.

She knows that representation matters and staunchly believes in the importance of inspiring the next generation of leaders, particularly women. An investor by trade, a common thread has been her desire to build equity through access, opportunity and exposure for underserved people and places.

She has always desired to step into roles that have an impact and leave an impression on people’s lives. Her 20-year career journey has spanned multiple industries from public to private equity, non-profit leadership and venture capital. Through her rewarding work as a C-suite executive at Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, Martina is helping to level the playing field by giving business owners a chance when others can’t or won’t. Like homeownership, business ownership is an asset that supports closing a widening racial wealth gap, building financial stability through a ripple effect —a collective prosperity that goes beyond the immediate gain of an individual business owner.

Raising over $18 million in grant funds in just two years, (including the largest individual and corporate gifts in ACE’s history), finding ways to support traditionally underserved small business owners and entrepreneurs with capital, coaching and connections is core to her work.

Martina has penned articles such as “The Fragility of Small Business” and been featured broadly, including CNN Money, CNBC Make it Real, PrivCap, WABE Radio, The Atlanta Small Business Network, and Atlanta Business Chronicle. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

On Breaking Barriers in Finance | CNBC Make It

Atlanta Business Journal Interview

Speech Topics

Shattering Glass Ceilings

Martina provides highlights of her riveting journey from rural Alabama to the New York Stock Exchange outlining how she became a historical first for her firm and the first Black woman equity trader on the NYSE in its 225-year history, earning a coveted membership “seat” valued at over $3.5 million upon her exit in 2006.

Owning Your Greatness

Although she grew up with humble beginnings in Beatrice, Alabama, a small town with a population to date of under 400 people, she had audacious dreams. In this inspiring and insightful talk, she illustrates that your circumstances, identity, socioeconomic status, and social capital do not determine your outcome. The audience will be inspired by her  personal and professional experiences as she connects the dots on the power of bold thinking, self-confidence and living up to your own greatness, especially in the face of adversity.

Significance vs Success

She crystalizes for anyone listening that success, while notable, does not equate to significance. One of Martina’s personal mantras is to Serve Invest and Return Value (SIRV). Knowing that equity, access and opportunity lead to social benefits that reverberate through communities creating financial upswings and collective prosperity, she offers sage advice and insights from her two decades of experience being a multiplier - opening doors for others. From her five years in NYC leading an alternative investment fellowship program promoting diversity for underrepresented talent to her executive roles in community and economic development democratizing access to capital for entrepreneurs, she underscores the value of diversity and thinking outside of self.

Personal Resilience

This dynamic speech is relatable to any audience member who has ever felt overwhelmed, lost, or simply asked themself “How did I get here?” Finding passion, purpose and the greatness within you can be hard and at times feel fleeting. Martina provides a blueprint for how to pause, pivot or proceed when life presents you with defining decision-making moments that make you recalibrate and reexamine self. She explores activating the power within you to overcome not only challenging external obstacles, but also internal fears that can become barriers to success. Audiences will walk away motivated to dig deep and push through to achieve greatness that is in store for them.