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Gwendolyn Smith Iloani

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Information about Gwendolyn Smith Iloani

Profile image of Gwendolyn Smith Iloani

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Private Equity Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Goat (Curried)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cruises
Favorite Quote:
The Only Helping Hand You Have Is The One At The End Of Your Arm.

Birthplace

Born:
11/19/1955

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Private Equity Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Goat (Curried)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cruises
Favorite Quote:
The Only Helping Hand You Have Is The One At The End Of Your Arm.

Birthplace

Born:
11/19/1955
See how Gwendolyn Smith Iloani is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Investment Executive Gwendolyn Smith Iloani was born in Jamaica. Iloani came to the United States with her family at the age of six. Her family moved to Brooklyn, New York. Iloani received her B.A. degree in sociology from Colgate University and her M.B.A. from the University of Hartford.

Iloani worked in a variety of insurance and financial firms before founding her own investment company. Iloani began her career as a math analyst at New York Life in the late 1970s and then moved to Connecticut Mutual as a management trainee. In 1980, Iloani moved to Aetna, Inc. where she worked for fifteen years. Iloani worked in the investment department as an investment analyst and ultimately rose to the level of a managing director at a very rapid pace. In 1994, she persuaded senior executives at Aetna to invest $2.5 million in Smith Whiley, the Hartford, Connecticut investment firm she founded and owns. After two years, Iloani bought out Aetna’s interest and Smith Whiley is now owned by Iloani. Iloani is the chairwoman, president and CEO of Smith Whiley & Company, a private equity firm that specializes in providing mezzanine debt and private equity for management buyouts, recapitalizations, acquisitions and growth capital. Smith Whiley is among the largest black-owned private equity firm, and has managed in excess of $600 million. Iloani directs the firm’s investment advisory and asset management business, and the investment and portfolio management activities.

In 2000, Iloani's younger sister Jaleith died of leukemia at age thirty-six and left her three children to Iloani, who now makes time for all the demands of motherhood. In addition, Iloani has a long history of civic involvement with a wide variety of organizations and has received numerous community service and business leadership awards. Iloani is a board member of the NAACP Special Contributions Fund and The Crisis magazine. She was named one of the “75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street” and one of the “50 Most Powerful Black Women in Business” by Black Enterprise Magazine. Iloani is a Trustee of the University of Connecticut Foundation and after serving nine years on the Board of Trustees for Colgate University, she is currently an Emeritus Trustee.

Gwendolyn Smith Iloani was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 29, 2010.

See how Gwendolyn Smith Iloani is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gwendolyn Smith Iloani's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her mother's upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her family's migration to New York City
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani remembers the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani remembers her parents' occupations
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her early awareness of divisions in the African American community
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Smith Ilonai recalls her early education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her early career aspirations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani remembers her family's entrepreneurialism
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her experiences at Prospect Heights High School in Brooklyn, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani recalls her decision to attend Colgate University in Hamilton, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her academic experiences at Colgate University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani recalls working for the Aetna Life and Casualty Company
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her start as an investment analyst
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani recalls the Aetna Life and Casualty Company's investment in BET
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes the early business model of BET
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about black business ownership
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani remembers her marriage
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about the challenges of her marriage
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani recalls the founding of her investment firm
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes the origins of Smith Whiley and Company's name
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her investment strategy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her investment clients and specialty
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her business partners
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her success at Smith Whiley and Company
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes the challenges of entrepreneurship
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her nephews
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her charitable board memberships
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani reflects upon her concerns for the University of Connecticut and Colgate University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani recalls her interest in establishing an office in South Africa
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani reflects upon her life, legacy and how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani narrates her photographs