A community of optimists hosted by Melinda French Gates

Five to Follow: Mellody Hobson’s Picks

3 min
Mellody Hobson speaking at an event - by Paul Morigi
Photo by Paul Morigi | Getty Images
The president of Ariel Investments and a member of many corporate and philanthropic boards, Mellody Hobson is an inspiring and influential business leader—and one of the most connected people we know. We asked Mellody to curate our inaugural “Five to Follow” list, recommending five people and organizations this community should know about.

Jamie-Clare Flaherty speaks onstage during the Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference at Monarch Beach Resort on November 14, 2017 in Dana Point, California.
Photo by Joe Scamici | Getty Images

Jamie-Clare Flaherty is so smart, so capable and always in the middle of the action. She currently serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives for The Obama Foundation, and also mentors young leaders in business and the arts through her work on the boards of the Joffrey Ballet and High Jump. Jamie-Clare demonstrates the leadership, patience, and enthusiasm necessary to create change around her.

Nnamdi Okike and Aaron Holiday chat in front of a computer
Photo courtesy of 645 Ventures

645 Ventures invests in early-stage startups in SaaS, infrastructure software, and consumer technologies, partnering with founders to build growth-stage businesses that reach massive scale. The co-founders, Nnamdi Okike, and Aaron Holiday, remind me of my early days at Ariel. Their firm is charting a course in the financial services industry. They are two young leaders who are dedicated to driving results, building a great firm—and happen to be black.

Andrea Wishom speaks at an event
Photo by Andrew Nelles | Getty Images

Andrea Wishom is the President of Skywalker Properties, Ltd. Prior to joining Skywalker, Andrea served as Executive Vice President of Programming, Production and Development for Harpo Productions, where she launched OWN’s highest-rated show, Oprah’s Next Chapter. Andrea has range. From years with Oprah Winfrey, to now being one of the driving forces behind the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, she can conquer any challenge. Andrea is levelheaded and thoughtful at all times.

Professional portrait of Robbie Robinson

Robbie Robinson serves as Partner at BDT & Company and head of the West Coast region. Simply put, Robbie is a superstar. He is so comfortable with himself in any setting, and is incredibly intuitive and knowledgeable of the financial services industry.. At BDT, Robbie is responsible for both investing in and advising family- and founder-led companies. Additionally, he manages several of the firm’s priority client and limited partner relationships.

CEO and Founder of Hearsay Social Clara Shih speaks onstage at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit on October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Paul Morigi | Getty Images

Clara Shih is the CEO and co-founder of Heresay Social, the leading Advisor Cloud company used by over 150,000 advisors and agents to deliver personalized relationships at scale with AI-assisted automation. A digital pioneer, Clara developed the first social business application in 2007 and subsequently authored The New York Times-featured bestseller, “The Facebook Era,” and sequel, “The Social Business Imperative.” Clara is quietly strong and powerful, and is a true leader in Silicon Valley.