Fred McKinney, the Carlton Highsmith Chair for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Quinnipiac, appointed to Minority Business Initiative Advisory Board

McKinney sitting in a chair, laughing

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red McKinney, the Carlton Highsmith Chair for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and director of the People’s United Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Quinnipiac, recently was appointed to the state of Connecticut’s Minority Business Initiative Advisory Board. 

“I have spent the past 30 years working on developing minority businesses and minority entrepreneurs,” McKinney said. “I guess you can call it my life’s work. In many ways, this appointment is a continuation of my work as an entrepreneur, an educator, an executive and an advocate. I look forward to working with my fellow directors and, most importantly, I look forward to making a difference for minority entrepreneurs in Connecticut. I know that the state, the corporate community and the minority business community can do better, and, when we do better, everybody wins.”

State Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, Connecticut Speaker of the House, confirmed the appointment in a letter dated August 13. The appointment is effective immediately and runs through August 30, 2021, or until a successor has been appointed and qualified.

“I am confident that the knowledge and experience you bring to this position will be of great value to the board,” Aresimowicz wrote.

McKinney, who joined Quinnipiac in 2018, said his appointment to the state board comes at a perfect time.

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“The Minority Business Initiative Advisory Board is operating at a unique moment in American and Connecticut history,” McKinney said. “The murder of George Floyd, the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis have disproportionately impacted minority businesses. It has been documented that over 40 percent of black-owned businesses experienced a shutdown during this crisis compared to less than 18 percent for white, non-Hispanic-owned enterprises.

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“These are differences that can be effectively addressed with thoughtful policy,” he added. “I am hoping that the MBI Advisory Board will be the vehicle to make changes in state and local policy that will benefit all minority businesses. I know that when minority businesses are strong, minority communities are strong. When minority communities are strong, all of Connecticut benefits.”

McKinney brings vast experience to the board. He earned his doctorate in economics from Yale University. He also has a bachelor’s degree from UCLA.

While pursuing his doctoral degree, McKinney spent two summers at the Rand Corporation on domestic economic policy and one year in Washington, D.C., on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. His work at Rand and at the White House helped him focus his graduate school research on national health policy.

McKinney speaking behind a podium

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McKinney was a tenure track assistant professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Advanced Studies in Social Policy. In 1987, he became an economics professor in the MBA and executive MBA programs at the University of Connecticut School of Business. 

While at UConn, McKinney and a friend started Jamaica Gourmet Coffee, a wholesale gourmet coffee company in New Haven. The business grew from a start-up that only included the two founders to a company that employed 20 workers and served over 200 grocery stores and restaurants throughout the Northeast.

Jamaica Gourmet Coffee continues to operate today. In 1999, McKinney left Jamaica Gourmet Coffee and started a new company, Advanced Dispensing Systems, a business based on a U.S. patent he was awarded for a system of dispensing whole bean coffee in a retail environment.

In 2001, McKinney became president and CEO of the Connecticut Minority Supplier Development Council (CMSDC).  During his tenure, McKinney and his team executed two nonprofit acquisitions, raised millions of dollars in public and private foundation support, grew the Council’s staff and expanded to become the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, which operated Minority Business Development Agency centers in Boston and Bridgeport. 

In April 2015, McKinney became the managing director of minority business programs at Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business.

McKinney has published four books on minority supplier development and corporate supplier diversity. In addition, he has had over 100 articles published in the minority business press and received numerous awards and recognitions over his career for his work and dedication to minority business development, including the 2017 Ronald Brown Leadership Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce. That award was inspired by the late U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Ronald Brown, and recognizes individuals who have achieved significant results in creating diversity, expanded minority business enterprise and demonstrated exceptional leadership in the public or private sector.

McKinney also has served on numerous for-profit and not-for-profit boards in leadership positions, including the Gateway Community College Foundation, Yale New Haven Health Care’s Bridgeport Hospital, the American Automobile Association of Connecticut, Habitat for Humanity, The Community’s Bank and The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Community Advisory Committee.