Oral history interview with Blair M. Duncan, 2021


Duncan, Blair M (Interviewee)
Areda, Yousef Abou (Interviewer)
Oral history interview with Blair M. Duncan, 2021
As a Harlem resident and business leader, Blair Duncan shares his perspective about Columbia University's engagement with the Harlem community to help combat the negative consequences of racism in employment, healthcare, housing, and business. He also shares his perspective on how Columbia University can make improvements moving forward. The interview focuses on the following key themes: power and control, equity, communication, and accountability and responsibility
Collection Name
Listening to Harlem oral history collection
Executives; Community and college--United States; Discrimination in housing--United States; Discrimination in medical care--United States; Discrimination in employment--United States; Racism--United States; Harlem (New York, N.Y.) History; Harlem (New York, N.Y.) Race relations; Harlem (New York, N.Y.) Social conditions; Duncan, Blair M; Columbia University
oral histories
Note (Biographical)
Blair M. Duncan is the President and CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation (UMEZ), a federal initiative to revitalize urban communities. UMEZ became a recognized Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in 2017, certified by the US Department of the Treasury CDFI Fund, and is part of a national network promoting economic growth by financing businesses, creating jobs, and strengthening neighborhoods. Duncan began at UMEZ in 2003 as General Counsel. His responsibilities grew to managing the operations of the organization and structuring commercial and mixed-used developments in Upper Manhattan. As President and CEO, Duncan helps provide capital access to neighborhood small businesses and designs grants for cultural institutions in the area. Prior to joining UMEZ, he was Vice President and Senior Counsel at Merrill Lynch. Earlier in his career, he practiced as an attorney with two national law firms. Before that, he was a Vice President at a global bank. Duncan serves on the board of directors of the Regional Plan Association and is Co-Chair of its New York Committee. He is also a member of the Corporate Advisory Council of the Citizens' Committee for Children of New York. In prior years, he served on several boards of directors and committees including the Harlem YMCA, the Helene Fuld College of Nursing, and Lawyers Alliance for New York. He is an active member of the executive committee of the Wharton Club of New York. He received a BS in mathematics from the University of Michigan, an MBA in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School
Interviewed by Yousef Abou Areda on July 12, 2021
Note (Provenance)
Claudia Rincón, Gift, 2022
Library Location
Columbia Center for Oral History, Columbia University
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Catalog Record
Also In
Oral History Archives at Columbia
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Available digital content for this interview.