Ford Exec Pamela Alexander Talks the Importance of Investing in the Community

Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images
The Ford Motor Company Fund has given more than $300 million on community development programs in many Black neighborhoods

Whether helping to facilitate college scholarships for youth, or doing volunteer work in Haiti, Ford Motor Company executive Pamela Alexander believes that one's professional and personal goals can align to make the world a better place.

As director of community development for Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, Alexander leads Ford Fund’s community engagement and outreach initiatives with various non-profit organizations nationwide. Since 2004, the fund---which dates back to the 1940s--has awarded grants and invested more than $300 million for a variety of programs, be it women’s issues and neighborhood development, to automotive safety for teen drivers.

"Part of what we call the `Ford DNA,' is not just putting our name on great products and services, but investing in the community," said Alexander, who noted the company's commitment to African-Americans. "We've been there, whether it's establishing scholarship funds for kids, or supporting national exhibits like Freedom's Sisters, which toured the country and celebrated women of the Civil Rights movement."

A native of Michigan who holds degrees from Georgetown and Columbia universities, Alexander joined Ford in 1990. Her career ascension was launched in the Controller’s Office where she handled Marketing and Sales, Product Development and Corporate Finance.

Prior to her appointment to the Ford Fund, Alexander has held a variety of positions in the Ford Motor Company Governmental Affairs office. Her experience has run the gamut from policy development on strategic issues such as the environment and privacy, to overseeing the company’s PAC and grassroots activities.

Alexander's day-job dovetails with her personal mission to uplift people. Her many honors include a “Corporate Trailblazer” award from Rainbow PUSH, the Community Service award from the Arab American and Chaldean Council, and being featured in African Americans on Wheels magazine as one of the auto industry’s most influential Black women.

Alexander also finds time to serve on various non-profit boards, including the Special Contribution Fund of the NAACP, the GRAMMY Foundation and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Indeed, Alexander's role as a corporate dynamo engaged with the community was on full display recently during the CBC Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference, in Washington, D.C.

The flurry of events that the Ford Fund supported included the Sojourner Truth reception and a special screening of a new documentary titled "Walk With Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith.”

Ford Fund and DTE Energy Foundation helped underwrite the film, which examines the legal and private world of the 6th District Court of Appeals judge, who tackled racism, segregation and social injustices from the bench.

"The documentary pays tribute to the life and legacy of one of the highest- ranking Black federal judges and Civil Rights crusaders in the country," said Alexander, who later hugged Keith —still mentally sharp at 93—as applause erupted when the movie concluded.

The wife and mother of three is also raising her offspring to care about the world in which they live as well. "When we traveled to Haiti to volunteer in one of the towns, it changed their outlook," she related. "At the end of the trip, my daughter took off her sneakers and gave them to one of the children there. That made me feel good."

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