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The Chief's Table, An Ice Miller Podcast

May 10, 2023

Small business ownership is a proven way to build wealth, but for Black business owners, structural barriers often keep them from accessing traditional means of financing. For example, Black-owned businesses are approved for financing at one third of the rate of their White owned counterparts.

On this episode of The Chief’s Table, guest Charisse Conanan Johnson shares how her organization, Next Street, is helping to change that. Next Street supports small businesses and entrepreneurs by providing them with advice, resources and B2B solutions.

During her conversation with Kim, Charisse shares that as a Black woman who began her career in the financial industry, she realized that there were many structural impediments that kept Black Americans from accessing capital. In her role as Co-CEO and Board Member at Next Street, Charisse combines her passion for wealth creation and entrepreneurship by supporting minority-owned businesses.

Kim and Charisse also discuss the Black Lives Matter movement and the importance of holding corporations accountable, especially concerning their 2020 pledges to monetarily support small, minority-owned businesses. Charisse highlights some of Next Street’s specific clients that have done a particularly good job fulfilling their racial justice pledges, such as Verizon and the Columbus Foundation.

Additionally, Charisse shares some of the statistics surrounding Black and Brown business ownership, well as a personal story that has affected the way she views life.

About Charisse Conanan Johnson

As Co-CEO and Board Member of Next Street, Charisse is responsible for executive oversight of all revenue-related and corporate activities at the firm. She also works to ensure that Next Street hits its financial and impact metrics, attracts and retains talent and remains loyal to its values. Previously, Charisse led the firm’s advisory practice, where she oversaw consulting solutions for institutional clients nationwide.

Prior to Next Street, Charisse served as CEO of Smarteys, Inc., a small business that provided financial planning tools to recent college grads. Charisse has also served a vice president at JPMorgan Asset Management, where she made investment decisions for a $10 billion mid cap equity portfolio. Charisse is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Charisse is also a chartered financial analyst (CFA) charter holder and author of A Wealthy Girl: 7 Steps to Prosperity, Peace, and Personal Power.

About Kim Stapleton

Kim Stapleton is the host of The Chief’s Table and a sales manager in Ice Miller's Chicago office, where she matches attorney skillsets with the needs of existing and prospective clients.

Prior to transitioning her role in client services, Kim was a firm consultant for five years. In that role, she helped attorneys develop their networks and expand their business development capabilities. Kim has previously worked with several other law and accounting firms to identify key targets, perform business intelligence and prioritize business development.