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2023-2024 Rising Star Honorees

Meet the 2023-2024 Rising Stars

Tactical Portfolio Manager
Aegon Asset Management

Emily Phelps

"Emily exemplifies professionalism, motivation, and a proactive attitude. She spearheaded a scholarship program for female students, creating it from scratch and selecting deserving recipients. Emily volunteers for Invest in Girls, teaching personal finance and highlighting industry roles in local high schools. Through the Women in Business program, she mentors female finance students, while actively supporting all ERGs to foster an inclusive culture. Recently promoted, Emily manages a significant portfolio account and holds a CFA designation, earning her respect as a valued asset."

Communications Strategist
Allspring Global Investments

Bithja Pierre

"Bithja Pierre is an emerging leader in the investment industry, focused on driving DE&I progress. As a communications strategist at Allspring Global Investments, she co-leads the Black/African-American connectivity group, fostering partnerships and representation. With a background in communication and culture, Bithja moderates DE&I panels, crafts firm messaging, and provides marketing support. Her Haitian heritage inspires her community advocacy efforts, organizing events in underrepresented areas. Bithja's goal is to make DE&I a strategic priority, leaving a lasting impact in the industry."

Financial Consultant
American Century Investments

Jennifer Simmons

"Jennifer excels in serving financial advisors and individual investors. Passionate about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), she actively supports employees of color and women through the Mosaic and Accelerate Business Resource Groups. Jennifer's recent involvement in a company-wide panel discussion on mentorship and women's challenges highlights her commitment and ongoing participation. She leads employee volunteer initiatives with PREP-KC, promoting financial literacy and diverse career opportunities for high school students. Jennifer's DEI advocacy positions her as a rising star in the industry."

Investment Associate
Amundi Asset Management

Amber Jiang

"Amber, an Investment Associate at Amundi US, demonstrates exceptional potential within the Multi Sector team. With a strong blend of quantitative and qualitative skills, she focuses on technological innovation, sustainable investing, and meticulous research. Committed to giving back, she mentors students and alumni from diverse backgrounds, sharing her journey and nurturing future leaders. Amber's goal is to excel as a versatile multi-strategy leader, navigating diverse sectors and evolving macroeconomic landscapes."

Senior Consultant
Aon Investments, USA Inc.

Margaret Grace Uhlein, CFA

"Maggie, a Senior Consultant at Aon Investment, USA Inc., oversees traditional advisory consulting clients and discretionary OCIO mandates. Leading a team of analysts, she focuses on training and development while maintaining client relationships. Additionally, Maggie oversees a team of investment analysts and is instrumental in the training, development and retention, of Aon's junior talent.  Maggie organizes internal forums, sharing thought leadership and updates for the consulting teams. She helped develop ESG tools and is an emerging leader known for her inclusive and family-oriented nature. Maggie holds a CFA designation with eight years of industry experience."

Portfolio Manager Fixed Income
Aviva Investors

Jane Xie

"Jane possesses a strong internal drive to achieve outstanding results for her team. She approaches new areas with a methodical, comprehensive, and tenacious mindset, eager to contribute quickly to team objectives. Additionally, Jane understands the significance of collaboration and recognizes the collective strengths that stem from team diversity and cohesiveness. These qualities mark her as a promising future leader."

Business Strategy & Initiative Manager, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Ana Schaja

"Ana is a collaborative team player and a member of the COO team in our specialist organization. She sets a positive example for others through her leadership style. Ana actively promotes inclusion within our firm by spearheading various efforts and initiatives. Her commitment to fostering an inclusive environment is evident in her actions and contributions. Ana's dedication to teamwork and advancing inclusion makes her a valuable asset to our organization."



Jenny Wu

"Jenny is a valuable member of the Global Fund and Accounting Services team in Business Operations, specializing in Alternative Products. She actively contributes to fostering a more diverse and inclusive work environment through her engagement with Associates Arena. Jenny's work on the Employee Spotlight and her ongoing involvement in the network demonstrate her commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within the organization."

Vice President
BNY Mellon | Pershing

Alexis Marans

"Alexis is a dynamic member of BNY Mellon Pershing's Wealth Solutions team, known for her exceptional task management and commitment to raising the bar for clients and partners. As Global Co-Chair of Marketing and Communications for BNY Mellon's Women's Initiative Network (WIN) E/BRGs, she utilizes digital tools to disseminate ideas and promote opportunities. Recognized as a 2021 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion, Alexis is dedicated to enhancing the client experience through effective communication and strategic business planning."

Manager Compliance
Broadridge Financial Solutions

Timothy Leung

"Tim joined Broadridge as a Project Management intern and quickly advanced through the organization. As a leader in the Risk and Compliance Project Management team, Tim supports, challenges, and enhances risk and compliance practices through collaboration with senior executives and facilitation of high-profile projects. He has also played a pivotal role in revitalizing Broadridge's Multi Cultural Associate Network (MCAN) program. Tim's commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, alongside his professional achievements, solidify his status as a Rising Star."

Compliance Associate
Calamos Investments

Meagan Polidoro

"Meagan is a valuable and dedicated team member, known for her strong customer focus and independent thinking. She consistently seeks new challenges, streamlines processes, and exceeds expectations. Meagan's interdepartmental collaboration, attention to detail, and organizational skills make her a rising star. She actively participates in initiatives such as the DEI program and volunteers for events like Toys for Tots. Meagan's proactive nature and leadership qualities contribute to her success and growth at Calamos."

Intermediary Services Manager
Capital Group

Michelle Cremar-Rodriguez

"Michelle, a standout at Capital Group, has achieved remarkable success in her four-year tenure. She received the prestigious 2020 Sales Support Service Award of the Year and recently earned a promotion to manager in Intermediary Services-Home Office Service Team. Michelle's inclusive leadership style has quickly garnered trust and influence across business groups. She actively contributes to multiple resource groups, including CG Unidos and CG Pride Planning Committee, while also serving as a 2023 Global New Hire Ambassador."

Director, Talent Development

Lilia Greenwald

"Lilia Greenwald, a highly regarded colleague, embodies collaboration and a strong commitment to DEI. Her expertise in talent development and continuous learning is widely respected."

Assistant Vice President, Talent & Diversity, Citi

Eugene Smith, II

"For nearly four years, Eugene has been a pivotal figure in talent and diversity, spearheading the establishment of numerous DEI initiatives and practices. His notable contributions include organizing intersectionality panels in collaboration with diverse partners, implementing allyship programs, creating an LGBTQ+ Ally Guide, and orchestrating DEI Client Engagement events and RFP responses. Notably, Eugene played a critical role in launching the impactful Seeing is Believing event with LGBT Great, culminating in a client showcase that highlighted the advantages of LGBTQ+ role models and mentors."

Sr. Manager, Instructional Design
Columbia Threadneedle Investments

Catarina Pontes

"Catarina Pontes, a Senior Manager on the Columbia Threadneedle North America Learning & Development team, excels in training the sales team on leveraging technology resources for effective sales activities. Her strategic mindset connects technology opportunities with practical sales techniques, delivering impactful results. Catarina is a trusted partner and leader who actively listens, adapts to changing needs, and communicates effectively. Additionally, she is a key contributor to the Columbia Threadneedle NA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Group, championing DE&I recruiting best practices and fostering connections with external programs to enhance diversity in the asset management industry."

Senior Product Designer
Confluence Technologies Inc.

Katelyn Cummings

"Kate, a Senior Product Designer on Confluence's Design Team, excels in collaborating and leading cross-discipline teams to design innovative solutions for complex technology projects. Her user-centered approach and extensive user research have contributed to the success of key development initiatives. Kate's leadership fosters healthy, creative, and disciplined teams, inspiring excellence. Additionally, she actively participates in Confluence's charitable and Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, demonstrating her commitment to making a positive impact within and beyond the organization."

Associate Investment Strategist 
Dimensional Fund Advisors

Yajnaseni Savarna

"Yajnaseni was nominated to this program by two different ERGs. She serves in a leadership role within one ERG and is an active and dedicated member and mentor in the other. Yajnaseni is already regarded as a leader within her department, and she acts as an ambassador for our firmwide diversity & inclusion initiatives among other employees. She is engaged and willing to help wherever it’s needed. It is clear that she has a passion for diversity & inclusion, and she is committed to making the employee experience more inclusive for all employees."

Product Analyst
Edward Jones

Riley Harshbarger

"Riley's inherent dedication, focus, and ability to deliver the right outcomes is greatly appreciated and recognized by leadership as well as his peers. He goes above and beyond to demonstrate eagerness to try new things – he has natural curiosity that drives him to be a continuous learner. Most importantly, he genuinely cares about everyone he interacts with and creates a collaborative space for others to offer their insights, feedback, and opinions. His ability to lead cross-functional teams, embrace change and challenges, and keep the client at the center of what we do is highly valued and exemplifies key characteristics of a future leader."


Alina Ehsan

"Alina Ehsan, a Manager at Ernst & Young LLP, brings valuable expertise to the Wealth & Asset Management practice. With a strong background in financial services, including previous experience at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Alina works closely with global asset management firms, supporting post-M&A integration, process improvement, technology implementation, and strategic operating models. Beyond her client work, she plays a leadership role in EY's Wealth & Asset Management DE&I Strategic Business Transformation team. Her initiatives span from panel discussions on workplace belonging and unconscious bias to hosting DE&I trainings and advocating for equitable recruiting processes. Alina empowers her team to lead authentically and inclusively, guided by the belief that diversity is a fact, inclusion is a choice, and belonging signifies meaningful change."

Research Analyst
Fidelity Investments

Katie Wong

"Katie is an exceptional Rising Star due to her focus on process improvement, mentorship, and promoting diversity and inclusion. She collaborates with leadership, providing valuable suggestions for enhancing current processes. Katie invests time in mentoring interns and research associates, guiding them with her knowledge and expertise. She takes a leadership role in encouraging critical thinking and practicing diversity and inclusion within her organization. Katie's commitment to continuous improvement and fostering an inclusive culture distinguishes her as an outstanding rising leader."

Executive Director, Sales Strategy & Analytics, FS Investments

Krista Bowers

"Krista is a highly valued and accomplished Executive Director in Sales Strategy & Analytics at FS Investments. She plays a critical role in overseeing the firm's CRM, facilitating better client understanding and identifying new opportunities for collaboration with financial advisors. Krista's colleagues trust and admire her, evident from receiving the esteemed Peer Recognition award. Actively engaged in the FS Women's Network and FS Inclusion Council, she actively contributes to strengthening the FS community and workplace. Krista's positive attitude, attention to detail, team-oriented approach, and exceptional execution make her a deserving Rising Star."

Senior Research Analyst
Hartford Funds

Ozzie Bryan

"Ozzie has been adding value in his role at Hartford Funds for over 5 years. During that time, he has expanded his skill level and knowledge of the investment management industry. Ozzie has obtained his MBA degree, participated in multiple leadership and mentoring programs at our firm and is a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. He is a team player and a reliable colleague. Ozzie is a rising star because of his work ethic, his eagerness to grow in his professional role and his collaborative mentality."

Vice President, Institutional Sales
HSBC Asset Management

Christina Vu

"Christina recently moved from our Client Operations to our Institutional Sales Team, showcasing her versatility within the organization. She actively supports our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives and even participates in external community programs. Christina's leadership abilities have been evident, and she maintains a strong desire to grow and learn. This program will enhance her leadership skills, foster personal development, and boost her confidence as a future leader."

Associate, Strategic Equity

Meg Donlin

"Meg has consistently impressed as an exceptional performer since joining our group two years ago. Her dedication to self-improvement has driven her rapid growth, earning her a respected position within the team. As a thoughtful and responsible investor, Meg contributes significantly to our performance and team culture. She excels both as a team player and as an independent executor, earning the admiration of colleagues at all levels. Meg's strong reputation spans the entire team, a testament to her outstanding contributions."

Vice President – Corporate Investment Bank 
J.P. Morgan

Brittany Gibler Dalton

"Brittany is a rising star and a leader at JPMorgan's Securities Services Operations. As the Strategic Change lead, she drives strategic objectives and fosters a culture of change. With prior experience at EY, she excels in leading clients through transformative programs. Brittany actively supports DEI initiatives and serves as a Women on the Move Board member, driving mentoring and career development efforts for women. Her strong learning agility, collaboration skills, and dedication to making a difference make her an invaluable asset at JPMorgan and beyond."

Product Operations Manager - Global Technology
Janus Henderson Investors

Trevor O'Hara

"Trevor is a goal-oriented professional who has been pivotal in delivering crucial reporting capabilities for Janus Henderson Technology. He not only prioritizes his own success but also supports his colleagues with a positive attitude, solution-oriented mindset, and calm demeanor during training and tooling support. Additionally, Trevor actively seeks opportunities to learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as a member of various Janus Henderson Employee Resource Groups. He embodies the true essence of an ally and inclusive behavior, making him a standout individual in the organization."

Investment Analyst
John Hancock Investment Management

Angan Sarker

"Since joining John Hancock in 2021, Angan has made significant contributions as a member of the investment analysis team in the US. Additionally, he plays a crucial role as co-chair of PACES, the Pan-Asian employee resource group. Under his leadership, PACES has successfully organized various events that celebrate Asian culture and amplify the presence and impact of Pan-Asian colleagues within the firm and the industry. Angan's dedication to fostering inclusivity and promoting diversity makes him a deserving Rising Star nominee."

Business Continuity Engineer
MFS Investment Management

Amaris Sok

"Amaris embodies the core values of MFS through her strong leadership and active involvement in DEI initiatives. As an engaged member of our Mosaic ERG, she consistently demonstrates a collaborative mindset and a commitment to surpassing expectations for improved results. Amaris is highly regarded by her colleagues for her dedication and willingness to go the extra mile, making her a true role model within the organization. Her contributions to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment make her a deserving candidate for the Rising Star program."

Sr Analyst, Brokerage Service Team

Robbie Martinez

"Gregory (Robbie) is a highly accomplished Senior Analyst on the Brokerage Service Team at Nationwide. With an unwavering commitment to excellence, Gregory consistently pushes himself by asking, "Did I do my best?" Throughout his career, Gregory has thrived in diverse roles, thanks to his exceptional energy and meticulous attention to detail. As a Rising Star, Gregory is poised to embrace this opportunity, taking on new challenges and further developing his leadership abilities."

Team Lead-Second Vice President

Simona Ilies

"Simona has made significant contributions to the Financial Services industry, her dedication to delivering excellent service and building strong client relationships has earned her high praise from clients. Notably, she has accomplished the remarkable feat of completing law school both in her home country and in the U.S., showcasing her commitment to personal and professional growth."

Portfolio Analyst
Payden & Rygel

Alexander Velazquez

"Alex Velazquez is a valuable member of Payden's Core Bond strategy team, specializing in strategy implementation, portfolio monitoring, and risk management. He actively contributes to the firm's diversity and inclusion initiatives by creating a mentorship program for high school interns, fostering their professional development and networking opportunities. As a Level I candidate in the CFA program, Alex demonstrates his commitment to continuous learning and professional growth. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics from Loyola Marymount University."

Senior Process & Change Management Analyst
Polen Capital

Brigitte Marchand

"Brigitte's rapid promotion within a short period is a testament to her exceptional potential and leadership qualities. Her demonstrated skills and achievements make her a promising candidate as both a Rising Star and future leader within the firm."

Senior Analyst, Product & Corporate Strategy
Putnam Investments

Megan Averitt

"Megan's exceptional dedication and initiative shine through her work at Putnam. She goes beyond her role, facilitating cohesion in institutional business, organizing investment speaker events, and driving initiatives like the Multi Asset Model Portfolios. As the Co-Chair of the Community Committee in the Women of Putnam Affinity Group, she connects women across departments through coffee chats and leads impactful charity challenges. Megan's contributions and leadership make her a true rising star at the firm."

Quantitative Research Analyst
Putnam Investments

Ekaterina Yarovaya

"Ekaterina (Katya), an immigrant and female investment professional, embodies resilience, adaptability, empathy, and courage. With exceptional performance and a commitment to continuous learning, she stands out as a strong candidate for the Rising Star program. She actively seeks leadership opportunities and contributes to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Russell Investments. The program will allow her to further develop her leadership skills, make a greater impact on DEI efforts, and advance her career in the asset management industry."

Operational Risk Analyst

Gargie Dwivedi

"Gargie is nominated for her outstanding performance and positive impact on Schroders' culture. As an Operational Risk Analyst, she consistently exceeds expectations and provides invaluable support to her US and LatAm team as well as the global risk team. Gargie embodies Schroders' values of excellence, innovation, teamwork, passion, and integrity. Additionally, she contributes to an inclusive culture as co-chair of the North American East Asian Society Employee Resource Group (ERG)."

Senior Director, Financial Planning & Analysis
SLC Management

Klara Gotz

"Klara excels as Senior Director, Financial Planning & Analysis at SLC Management. She leads a dynamic team that leverages cutting-edge technology to derive insights from finance data sets, enabling data-driven decision-making. Further, she actively supports career development through her key role in InvestHer, the employee-led inclusion network. Klara's dedication to mentorship and commitment to diversity and inclusion are evident in her stewardship of InvestHer's Office Hours program. Klara's contributions and passion for advancing others make her a valuable asset to SLC Management."

Client Services Manager

Ashley Banks

"Ashley is a standout leader at SS&C, known for her commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). She exemplifies this passion both at work and in her personal life. Ashley actively recognizes and addresses inequities, while striving to provide support and opportunities to individuals from diverse backgrounds. Her dedication to continuous learning, growth, and leadership is intertwined with her mission to create an inclusive workplace and industry."

Assistant Vice President
State Street

Wendy Zhang

"Wendy is a passionate advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion at State Street. Actively involved in various leadership roles within State Street's Employee Resource Networks, including the Professional Women's Network and Asian PWN MA, she drives meaningful change. Wendy spearheaded a consulting initiative, addressing inequities faced by women in the hybrid working environment. Joining the Workplace of the Future team, she expanded her focus on women caregivers and established a guiding principles framework for equity and flexibility. Wendy's efforts extend to bridging the gender and racial pay gap and actively participating in State Street's anti-racism initiatives. Her energy, passion, and dedication are a true catalyst for change."

Fixed Income Analyst
Thornburg Investment Management

Samuel Snelling

"Sam Snelling is an accomplished fixed income analyst at Thornburg Investment Management. With a diverse background in engineering, finance, and military service, Sam's leadership skills are evident. He effectively communicates and actively listens to colleagues, while prioritizing Thornburg's success. Sam's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is demonstrated through his involvement in creating the Thornburg Pathways Internship Program, the Racial Justice Action Committee, and his participation in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. His intelligence, emotional intelligence, and unwavering dedication make him an invaluable asset to the organization."

Bios may have been edited for length and clarity and are provided by the respective firm of the honoree.