The Power of Voice - Nicky Chapin Lecture

Lauren Bonner Minicone ’99 recently returned to Chapin’s Assembly Room, a space filled with fond and familiar memories, to share her important and powerful story with Upper School students.

Nicky Stout Chapin ’52, Ms. Bonner Minicone’s former teacher and Class 7 supervisor, joyously welcomed her on November 1 as the 20th Nicky Chapin Lecture speaker. A Chapin alum from the Class of 1999 and a Harvard graduate, Ms. Bonner Minicone is the co-founder and Managing Partner of MBM Capital, an investment fund that focuses on buying “fallen angels” of venture capital. She has previously worked at Bridgewater, One Zero Capital, and, most recently, Point72, a firm she ultimately took to court for gender discrimination. It led, in 2018, to her being deemed the face of the #MeToo Movement on Wall Street by The New Yorker.

“I’m thrilled, honored and a little terrified to be here speaking to you,” Ms. Bonner Minicone began with a smile. “Before I try to share anything valuable or useful, let me just share a bit about me.”

An only child who loved Chapin, worked on Limelight (Chapin’s Upper School newspaper), organized volunteer projects, and is a proud member of the Green team (which elicited loud cheers from current Greens), Ms. Bonner Minicone said, “It’s safe to say [that] I found my voice here in this building.”

Fast forward to 2017, with 15 years of finance experience (having made Partner at her prior firm), seniority at her job and a glowing performance review, Ms. Bonner Minicone discovered that she, along with all the women at her firm, was making 25 cents on the dollar compared to her male counterparts. “It was institutional, and it was systemic,” she stated.

This, she explained, “wasn’t the first time I was discriminated against for my gender,” noting that, unfortunately, what we now call micro aggressions “were prominent and showed up in places that surprised me.”

Ms. Bonner Minicone’s speech, however, was not an examination of her lawsuit but rather an emphasis on the importance of knowing your worth and using your voice. “Equal compensation motivated me because it’s a reflection of how you’re valued,” she said, “And my female peers and I were being valued at 25 percent.” As difficult as it would prove to be, after filing her suit, Ms. Bonner Minicone continued to show up to work every day and put her best effort forward. She refused to be silenced.

Despite noting that her experience was, at times, “brutal,” she was gratified in the end. “More women across Wall Street came forward – some at my firm, a lot across finance. I heard from folks every week who were choosing to stand up against pregnancy discrimination, racial and gender discrimination.”

And, as time progressed, Ms. Bonner Minicone began to see tangible change. Women received bigger salaries and promotions that they’d long deserved. “There’s still a lot of work to do…but I hope you all will be part of that change,” she said. “And I think you will be.”

When asked how she has maintained courage in face of adversity, Ms. Bonner Minicone said, “I know who I am because of this place…I know what’s important to me and I made it to the other side.”

Ms. Bonner Minicone told students to harness their emotions and passions and to let those be the drivers of their paths. She also encouraged them not to shy away from working in finance if they wish to pursue a career in the field. “Absolutely do it! It’s super interesting work.”

Underscoring the privilege and power of a Chapin education, she continued, “What you’re learning here every day – how to be a critical thinker, how to develop a strong argument – that’s what will give you the ability to make change.”

“I hope you can find your voice and plot your path, using what Chapin has educated and enabled you to do.”

Citing Chapin’s motto, Fortier et Recte, while wrapping up the morning’s Assembly, Head of School Suzanne Fogarty said, “Bravely and Rightly. Brave for others, and brave for self – what you have done is exactly that. It is inspirational. Thank you, Ms. Bonner Minicone.”