Matthews Shatteen, Westina

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Westina Matthews Shatteen


Corporate executive

Westina Matthews Shatteen's rise to the upper echelons of corporate leadership was unusual. "It has been a surprising journey because I started out as a classroom teacher," she told The Network Journal. Yet, that is not to say she has not fulfilled her early career aspirations. From a deeply spiritual background, Matthews was drawn to teaching as a way to give back to society. When she made the leap to big business, she only changed job titles, not her personal goals. As a key player in the philanthropic wing of financial powerhouse Merrill Lynch, Dr. Matthews, as she is professionally known, has helped hundreds of children go to college, sponsored countless community initiatives, and created mentoring programs for young women of color. As she told The Network Journal, "The one common thread throughout my career has been my commitment to helping others."

Developed Early Desire to Teach

Westina Matthews was born on November 8, 1948, and raised in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where her father, Wesley Matthews, served as an African Methodist Episcopalian minister and her mother, Pat Matthews, worked as a journalist. Even as a child, Matthews showed a desire to lead. In the third grade she ran for class president. Unfortunately she lost by one vote. "I didn't vote for myself, because I thought to be a nice person I had to vote for the other guy," Matthews recalled to Essence. "Since then I've always believed in and voted for me first."

Reverend Matthews had a deep influence over his daughter. "My father gave me spirituality, kindness, open-mindedness, and integrity," Matthews said in an article on the Working Women 2000 and Beyond Web site. The result was a life infused with faith. "Under my picture in the yearbook at Yellow Springs high school, a friend wrote the scripture verse, 'Go ye therefore and teach all nations,'" Matthews told the Catholic Expert Web site. "Early on, people identified within me a strong faith and a sense of service and community and giving back."

Matthews earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education from the University of Dayton, a private Catholic school. Though she was only one of 19 African-American students when she arrived in 1967, Matthews quickly established herself as a campus leader. She was elected the first black homecoming queen in the university's history. "I remember on the float as we went through Dayton we went through the black community, there were people on the street crying," Matthews recalled in a press release on the University of Dayton's Web site. "It finally hit me that they were crying because they were so proud." Before graduating, Matthews would also be named Outstanding Elementary Education Senior and one of Dayton's Top Twenty Students.

Learned Leadership and Faith from Strong Mentors

Though Matthews was able to take advantage of the best that college life had to offer her, she was not immune to the ongoing struggle for equal rights. She was a sophomore when Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot. "Being a student in the civil rights movement gave me a commitment and passion to education and to equality," she told the University of Dayton. She began fulfilling that commitment as an elementary teacher in her hometown, a position she held for six years.

In 1977 Matthews enrolled in the University of Chicago, earning a doctorate in education three years later. In Chicago, her life was deeply influenced by two family members. "Our family did not have a lot of money, but my mother wanted to give me something, some expression of love, hope, and faith," Matthews told Contemporary Black Biography (CBB ). "She gave me a gold-plated chain on which hung a small glass bulb containing a mustard seed. 'Honey,' she said, 'I don't have much to give you, but I want you to have this. Remember, so long as you have the faith of a single grain of mustard seed, all things are possible, if you only believe.'"

Matthews was also influenced by her great uncle Bill Berry, a prominent civil rights activist in Chicago. As a child she had tagged along to civil rights meetings with her father and Berry. In Chicago he became her mentor. "My great uncle gave me my people skills. He taught me to convene meetings, to be a conciliator, to be honest, to say what needs to be said and to say it in a way that folks can receive it," she told Working Women 2000 and Beyond.

Built Scholarship Program for Underprivileged Children

Matthews began her professional career in 1982 with the Chicago Community Trust, a grant-making foundation. Three years later Merrill Lynch tapped her to be a manager in its philanthropic programs. Matthews moved to the firm's New York offices and through the positions of assistant vice-president and vice-president to become a director by 1997. She also became the first woman, as well as the first minority, to be elected a trustee for the Merrill Lynch foundation.

One of the most ambitious programs that Matthews helped launch during that time was ScholarshipBuilder. Through the innovative program 250 first graders from across the country were guaranteed tuition to the college of their choice if they graduated. Getting Merrill Lynch to sponsor the program was easy. The hard part was getting it up and running. "It all seemed to rest on me," Matthews recalled to Essence.

At a Glance...

Born on November 8, 1948, in Chillicothe, OH; married Alan Shatteen. Education : University of Dayton, BS, education, 1970; University of Dayton, MS, education, 1974; University of Chicago, PhD, education, 1980; Northwestern University, postdoctoral fellowship, 1981; University of Wisconsin at Madison, postdoctoral fellowship, 1982. Religion : Episcopalian.

Career: Mills Lawn Elementary School, teacher, Yellow Springs, OH, 1970-76; Stanford Research Institute (SRI), administrative assistant, Menlo Park, CA, 1976-77; The Chicago Community Trust, senior program officer, Chicago, IL, 1982-85; Merrill Lynch, director, philanthropic programs, 1985-97; Merrill Lynch, first vice president, global diversity, 1997-2000; Merrill Lynch Bank, senior vice president, community development services, 2000-01; Merrill Lynch, first vice president, community leadership, global private client group, 2001-03; Merrill Lynch, first vice president, community leadership, chief financial office, 2003.

Memberships: New York City Board of Education, member, 1990-93; University of Dayton, trustee, 2002; Executive Leadership Council, board member; Bank Street College of Education, trustee; Merrill Lynch Foundation, trustee.

Awards: Black Women Hall of Fame Foundation, Kizzy Award, 1985; New Urban League, New York, Donald H. McGannon Award, 1994; Girl Scout Council of Greater New York, Woman of Distinction Award, 1998; Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, Corporate Leadership Award, 2001; New York Theological Seminary, Urban Angel Award, 2004.

Addresses: Office Merrill Lynch, Community Leadership, 4 World Financial Center, 31st Floor, New York, NY, 10080.

With the help of the National Urban League, ScholarshipBuilder launched in 1988. Over the years, Merrill Lynch and its employees donated $16 million to the program. The pay-off was a 90 percent graduation rate among the participating studentsa considerable achievement given that these kids came from backgrounds where less than 50 percent usually graduated. Matthews attributed this success to the timing of the program. "No one started as early as we did," she told CBS News. "We started at the first grade. Everything we found out was that you had to start early." For a woman long dedicated to the education of children, ScholarshipBuilder was a fitting legacy.

Rose to Corporate Prominence in Diversity

When Merrill Lynch wanted to expand its diversity programs in the mid-1990s, it turned to Matthews. By this point, she had developed a stellar reputation. The mayor of New York had appointed her to the New York City Board of Education. She had earned several prestigious national awards and served on the boards of several prominent organizations. Still she was surprised at the job offer. "I was invited to a meeting with some senior executives and lawyers. It turned out they wanted to talk about diversity. I don't know what I had to do with diversity, so I just walked in there and said what I thought," Matthews recalled in Cracking the Corporate Code.

Within three months, Matthews was installed as Merrill Lynch's first head of global diversity. She oversaw corporate-wide diversity initiatives. The new position gave her power to effect change at the firm. One policy she took particular pride in was diversity reporting. "We've created diversity scorecards that keep track of the work force three times a year for every business group around the world," she told Cracking the Corporate Code. "When they have to turn in these qualitative and quantitative reports, you start seeing a difference."

In 2000 Matthews moved to Merrill Lynch Bank where she became senior vice president of community development. Her role was to oversee the bank's charitable and community relations efforts. The following year she became first vice president of community leadership for the firm's global private client group. She held that position until 2003 when was promoted to first vice president of community leadership for the firm's global human resources. In that position Matthews was responsible for developing strategic alliances to support new business development and community relations throughout the corporation.

Shared the Gift of Faith with the Public

In 2002 Matthews launched the "Black Women on Wall Street" symposium. Her goal was two-foldto provide a forum for sharing experience and strategies, and to create a mentoring environment between seasoned Wall Streeters and eager newcomers ready to make it in the traditionally white, male world of finance. The success of the program has touched Matthews. "To be able to look into the faces of over 200 young, bright, smart and talented women who are eager to climb the corporate ladder on Wall Street is certainly a very proud moment," she told CBB.

Matthews desire to help reached well beyond the moneyed boardrooms of Wall Street. Through a venture called Have a Little Faith, she began publicly sharing the lesson she learned from her motherwith just the faith of a mustard seed you can overcome anything. Matthews self-published Have a Little Faith: The Faith of a Mustard Seed in 2003. She bought five pounds of mustard seeds and hand-filled thousands of packets of seeds to include with each book. The sequel, Have a Little Faith: For Women Fully Grown, came out in 2004. Through the internet, speaking engagements, and word-of-mouth the books have sold over 7,000 copies. "This has become a labor of love for me," she told CBB. "The response has been overwhelming. I receive notes from perfect strangers, and people are passing the books along to others. They're comforting people during an illness, a loss, a broken relationship, a lost job. That was the intent, and it's been very rewarding to watch that."

Matthews's third book Have a Little Faith: In the Midst of Relationships was released early in 2005. Meanwhile she continued to spearhead innovative community programs in her role with Merrill Lynch. The woman, who long ago planned on a teaching career in small-town Ohio, had very successfully found a way to touch thousands around the world through both her corporate work and her spiritual convictions.



Cracking the Corporate Code, From Survival to Mastery: Real Stories of African-American Success, Executive Leadership Council, 2000.


Business Wire, June 27, 2002.

Essence, August 1989.


"Chosen Children Go Off To College," CBS News, (February 15, 2005).

"Faith of a Mustard Seed," Catholic Experts, (February 15, 2005).

"Say What Needs to Be Said," Women Working 2000 and Beyond, (February 15, 2005).

"University of Dayton Alumna Remains Faithful to King's Dream," University of Dayton, (February 15, 2005).

"Westina Matthews Shatteen, Twenty Five Influential Women in Business," The Network Journal, (February 15, 2005).


Additional information for this profile was obtained through an interview with Westina Matthews Shatteen on March 9, 2005, and on Have a Little Faith Web site.

Candace LaBalle

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Matthews Shatteen, Westina

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