Investment banker Charles N. Atkins was born on December 12, 1952 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Dr. Charles Atkins, Sr. and Hannah Diggs Atkins. Atkins’ mother was the first African American woman to be elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1958, serving until 1980. Atkins graduated from Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in Oklahoma City in 1971, and went on to receive his B.A. degree in political science, magna cum laude, from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1975. Atkins then earned his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1978.
Following his graduation from Harvard Law School, Atkins served as an associate assistant to President Jimmy Carter, and as the second legislative counsel to U.S. Senator David L. Boren of Oklahoma. In 1984, he was named deputy director of the Democratic National Convention platform committee, as well as deputy campaign manager for Walter Mondale’s vice-presidential candidate, Geraldine Ferarro. Atkins worked as a senior vice president at Lehman Brothers from 1988 to 1990 before leaving to join Morgan Stanley. As executive director, Atkins focused on corporate structured finance and utility sector recapitalization, and headed the corporate reorganization of Constellation Energy. He also served on President Bill Clinton’s presidential transition team in 1993, and was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Advisory Committee of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Atkins left Morgan Stanley in 2013 to found Atkins Capital Strategies LLC. In 2015, he became the executive chairman of Premier League Basketball in the United Kingdom, and a partner at Maroon Capital Group LLC. In 2017, Atkins became a senior advisor at Guggenheim Securities, LLC in New York City, focusing on corporate structured finance for corporate and financial sponsor clients.
Atkins was a trustee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Folk Art Museum, in addition to serving on the board of advisors for his elementary school, Casady School in Oklahoma City. Atkins also worked with McKinsey & Company, publishing multiple financial reports such as Global Capital Markets: Entering a New Era, in collaboration with a team of economists. Atkins has been awarded two U.S. patents for innovative financing structures.
Charles N. Atkins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 16, 2016.