Cheryl Mckissack is the President and CEO of Mckissack & Mckassick, a construction management firm. The company was established by her ancestors over a century ago and has always been family. Recently she sat down with Pastor A.R. Bernard of ARB TV to discussed her leadership journey.
Running a large business in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic has been challenging for many business owners. However, for Mckissack, she has felt blessed because her company was not as negatively impacted.
“It was a little alarming. I have to say, fortunately, we were blessed through that, because most of our work was considered essential, so we never really stopped construction,” she shared with Bernard.
When McKissack is not operating her family business she serves as a board member for several organizations such as The New York Women’s Forum, the Greater New York Mentor Program, and Women’s Builder Counsel. She spoke about the inspiration behind her work on these boards.
“It really came from a group of women who were in construction and we had nowhere to go to understand what was happening to us as women,” she stated. “But we knew we had similar stories and so we founded these groups over 17 years ago to advocate for women in architecture, engineering, and construction.”
Another challenge McKissack has dealt with is the misconception that African Americans are incompetent when it comes to handling large business projects. However, Mckissack highlighted how her company’s success in the industry proves that this notion is not true. Nevertheless, she believes this stereotype persists because there are not enough opportunities for black people to thrive.
“It’s not that we’re not here and we can’t do it, it’s that the door is shut. If we get one [door] then it could be a floodgate,” she noted. She believes that New York has led the way in creating opportunities for African Americans.
“I’d like to think that New York is progressive and that’s why I’m here. There are other cities in America that don’t have the same mindset and while we still have a long way to go, it’s a very good place to be,” she concluded.
To hear about Mckissack’s full journey, watch the entire interview on ARB TV.