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Matrice Ellis-Kirk

Management executive Matrice Ellis-Kirk was born on March 9, 1961 in Cleveland, Ohio. She earned her B.A. degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1982.

Ellis-Kirk began her career as an officer in commercial banking at MBank in Dallas, Texas. In 1987, she became the director of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Office of Management and Budget, and remained in that position until 1993. Ellis-Kirk then joined Apex Securities as vice president and office manager until 1995, when she began serving as a consultant with Spencer Stuart. In 1999, Ellis-Kirk was hired by Heidick & Struggles International, Inc. and later became a managing partner at the firm. She joined RSR Partners in 2014 as the managing director.

Ellis-Kirk received the Spirit of the Centennial Award from the City of Fair Park, Texas in 2001. She was also the recipient of the Dallas Historical Society’s Jubilee History Makers Award in 2015. The following year, Ellis-Kirk was named to D Magazine’s “Dallas 500” list.

Ellis-Kirk served as a board member for many organizations, including for the Dallas Museum of Art, the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation, The Woman’s Museum, the Dallas Symphony Association, and North Texas Tollway Authority. She also served on the board of directors for ACE Cash Express, on the Executive Committee for the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation, on the executive board for Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, and on the University of Pennsylvania’s Board of Visitors. She was a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on Women’s Empowerment, a member of the advisory board for the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, a trustee for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Foundation, a member of the Dallas chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors, and chairwoman for the AT&T Performing Arts Center. In 2013, Ellis-Kirk was appointed to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships by President Barack Obama.

Ellis-Kirk and her husband, Ron, have two children, Elizabeth and Catherine

Matrice Ellis-Kirk was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 16, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.071

Sex

Female

Interview Date

03/16/2017

Last Name

Kirk

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

John W. Raper Elementary School

Lulu Diehl Junior High School

East Technical High School

University of Pennsylvania

Mount Greylock Regional High School

First Name

Matrice

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

ELL07

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

Life Is Choices, You Have A Choice Every Day.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

3/9/1961

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Collard greens

Short Description

Management executive Matrice Ellis-Kirk (1961 - ) served as an investment banker with Apex Securities for several years before becoming an executive search agent with RSR Partners. Ellis-Kirk also served as the first African American first lady of Dallas, Texas.

Employment

Mercantile National Bank

Dallas Area Rapid Transit

Apex Securities

Spencer Stuart

Heidrick and Struggles International Inc.

RSR Partners

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Matrice Ellis-Kirk's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes her mother's family background pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk recalls how her parents met and married

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes her likeness to her paternal great grandmother and grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk recalls briefly living with her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers her father's early death

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes her childhood interests

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers advocating for sensible dress codes in schools

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers the Friendly Town initiative in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk recalls the popularization of the term L7

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes her educational aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers her early interest in investment banking

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers her friends at Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk talks about her mentors at Mount Greylock Regional High School

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers her return to Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk recalls her decision to attend the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers playing sports at Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk recalls her activities at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk talks about her early interest in the arts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk talks about the challenges facing first time African American mayors

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk recalls her decision to move to Dallas, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers working for Mercantile National Bank in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes her early community involvement in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers Reverend Jesse L. Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk recalls joining Dallas Area Rapid Transit

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers marrying Ron Kirk

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk talks about working at Apex Securities

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers her husband's decision to run for mayor of Dallas, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes her husband's first mayoral campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk recalls her husband's election as mayor of Dallas, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes the mayor's reading program

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk talks about Texas Governor Ann Richards

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes Texas' political structure, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes Texas' political structure, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk recalls becoming an executive recruiter

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes her duties as first lady of Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers her husband's senate run

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes her board involvements

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk talks about her role in Barack Obama's presidential campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk recalls serving on the President's Commission on White House Fellowships

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers working at RSR Partners

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk talks about the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk talks about the value of civic involvement

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Matrice Ellis-Kirk describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

7$5

DATitle
Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers her early interest in investment banking
Matrice Ellis-Kirk remembers her husband's decision to run for mayor of Dallas, Texas
Transcript
And my dream was, when I was eight years old I wanted to be an investment banker. So my [paternal] grandmother [Lillian Miller Bowden (ph.)] had talked about it. I first thought I wanted to be a nurse and then I saw blood and I passed--almost passed out so that, that went by the wayside before I was even eight years old.$$Now there aren't many youth that come up with the idea that they want to be an investment banker. So how did you--did you ha- did you know somebody who was an investment banker (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) So grandmother ran the dry cleaning business. So she got The Wall Street Journal and the newspaper, I later learned that she had it and was looking at the stock market because that's how they figured out what the numbers were. But she would help me look at the names of companies and we would look at the New York Stock Exchange [New York, New York] and I would learn what the tickers were of those companies. So then I started reading and started asking questions what's capital, what's equity and so she would have me pull up my World Book Encyclopedia and we would talk about it and I started reading it and just would read about an investment banker. I said, "That's what I want to be--that's what I want to be." So I was reading The Wall Street Journal and that's how I made that decision. Her belief was that, well if they're in The Wall Street Journal they are doing something right. Their names are on buildings. And so it was Morgan Stanley [Morgan Stanley Wealth Management] and places like that, Manufacturers Hanover [Manufacturers Hanover Corporation] you know, all of the names of the banks from way back when, National City Bank [First National City Bank; Citibank, N.A.]. So in the summer I would go and do summer internships through the city 'cause they had these little paid internships for inner city kids and you could work at the banks. So I would work at the bank and clip coupons, J and L Steel [Jones and Laughlin Steel Company] coupons. But I just knew that I wanted to be an investment banker. I wasn't really sure exactly what it was but then over time--by the time I was in the seventh grade I knew what an investment banker was so and that's really what I wanted to do.$$You knew they were around a lot of money and had money.$$I knew they made money yeah exactly. And you know, I didn't--I was good in school so when I was good in math and science and everything I read said that's what you could do with math and science so that was what was interesting. Then when I went off to high school [Mount Greylock Regional high School, Williamstown, Massachusetts], you know I had teacher who I would tell him I really wanted to go to a school that was good in math and science. He says, "Well you want to go to the University of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] that's where, that's where really--people that are good in math and science that's where they go."$So that--that was for two years. But what--did the company [Apex Securities, Dallas, Texas] do--(unclear) (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) The company was doing great.$$Okay.$$I was doing everything that I wanted to do and then my husband [HistoryMaker Ron Kirk] came home and told me he wanted to run for mayor. And, and so I just started crying (laughter) because first anybody in politics that we knew, they had a dysfunctional family. So I was like ugh, I've got two kids [Elizabeth Alexandra Kirk and Catherine Ellis Kirk], we were happy, it's a great family situation, I loved my husband, we have fun together. You know, but everything you've read in politics either the husband was cheating or it was dysfunctional; I was like oh my Lord look at what I've gotten myself into on one aspect of it. And on the other side of it was I'm finally doing everything that I want to do from a career standpoint. I've dreamed since I was eight years old and if you become mayor and you win this thing, I'm going to have to quit because the business did business with entities around or affiliated with the city. It's not just the city, but then the city had a piece of the ownership of DFW Airports [Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas], so you can't do work there. The city had pieces to do with water utilities and other markets, you can't do anything. So my company was going to basically have to say I love you but I'm going to miss you because otherwise they could not participate in all those types of revenue opportunities. And that just, that was not good business and it didn't make business sense. So he runs--$$And now, did you see this coming at all that he might--was he that kind of--was he popular like that then (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yes, a little bit. So I kind of knew what I was getting. I kind of knew what I was getting. I can't fain complete ignorance as much as I would like to. When we were in our session with our minister when we were getting married in '86 [1986] he says, "One of the things one should do is talk about yourself aspirationally so that you can see if you can even grow together." Mine was I wanted to be a billionaire philanthropic donor to the arts and education. I wanted to be Alice Walton redux and he wanted to be mayor. So yes I kind of knew what I was getting.$$Okay. All right. So, so you quit your job--this is your favorite job and you quit it basically to help your husband run (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So that he could, so that he could--yeah absolutely. And it was the right thing to do because he was the right person. I mean, you know, one of the things my [paternal] grandmother [Lilian Miller Bowden (ph.)] always said when we were young was that if you have--that you have to give back and you have to find a way to do it in a way that's going to bring people along with you. So you can't, you you can't--my grandmother was completely against people who wanted to be the only ones. It was if you get something you have to bring people along with you. You cannot do this by yourself. And him being mayor--I too would have the highest impact by him being in that role. It would long term serve everyone well because you would be able to use that bully pulpit to further all of the things that you're talking about. And you know we had conversations in our house always about what can we do to bring along the next generation. What can you do to create wealth in these various communities so that they can have the resources to accomplish their goals and what can you do to impact education. The city, the city here--government does not impact the school district. There's two different elections but you have a bully pulpit by which you can talk about the importance of education, the importance of investing in ensuring kids not to drop out, the importance of nutrition and getting a meal, the importance of early childhood education, the importance of families being together at mealtime, the importance of kids having afterschool study and tutoring and the importance of their ability to serve others so that they understand what service looks like. So you have the pulpit to do all of those things that here you are as one person trying to impact in a community. So it was the right thing to do and I had to give up my job for it. I could always go back after he was done was the way I looked at it. But I was too young to have a mindset that I couldn't.$$Okay (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Plus the fact you, in my house you can't say you can't do anything. That's just, that's blasphemy if you say, "I can't," that, that--you get excommunicated (laughter).