Share / Discuss

Pathways to Possibilities

“My life has really been marked by opportunity,” says Asahi Pompey ’94, who emigrated from Guyana to Brooklyn, N.Y., with her family at age 9. “I fundamentally know that talent is everywhere but, all too often, opportunity is not.”

Over the past 14 years, Pompey has risen through the ranks at the financial firm Goldman Sachs, culminating last year with a promotion to partner and a new position as global head of corporate engagement and president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. In her current role, Pompey oversees the firm’s signature 10,000 Small Businesses and 10,000 Women programs; its global employee engagement activities; and Goldman Sachs Gives, a donor-advised fund.

“We have a mission to leverage our expertise and longstanding culture of service to promote economic progress in communities,” says Pompey, a political science major at Swarthmore with a J.D. from Columbia Law.  “Collectively, we’ve deployed more than $2.5 billion over the last decade through our philanthropic efforts.”

Since launching in 2009, the 10,000 Small Businesses program has reached more than 9,100 businesses across the U.S. and 1,700 in the U.K., providing practical business education, support services, and access to capital, at no cost to participants.  In the U.S., participants consistently outperform national averages, with more than 50% creating net new jobs and more than 70% increasing revenues 18 months after the program.

“From Baltimore to Brooklyn, from Detroit to Dayton, from Cleveland to Kalamazoo—I am continually struck by our business owners’ grit, hustle, and dedication to not only their employees but to their communities,” says Pompey.

Similarly, 10,000 Women has provided a world-class business education to 10,000+ women in more than 100 countries, also at no cost to participants. The program was informed by research showing that investing in education for women could help close a range of gender gaps and contribute to higher global economic growth.

Through Community TeamWorks, the talent, energy, and experience of the company’s 38,000 employees are harnessed to make a tangible impact in their own communities. Under Pompey’s leadership, the program achieved a milestone 150,000 hours of service in honor of Goldman Sachs’s 150th anniversary in 2019, supporting more than 900 nonprofits globally.

Pompey has seen first-hand the transformative power of philanthropy on communities, families, and individuals—including in her own life, she says. Thanks to a scholarship from the American Field Service—a grantee of the Goldman Sachs Gives program—she was able to attend high school in Japan. Closer to home, a scholarship from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation in part financed Pompey’s Swarthmore education.

“I am privileged to have a family support system—my mother, Edith, and my father, Theodore—that value education tremendously and recognize how it is a pivotal pathway to economic mobility and intellectual advancement,” she says. “I now try to pass that ethic on to my two sons, Maximilian, 11, and Sebastian, 9.

“Along my path, I encountered so many teachers and professors, in particular at Swarthmore, whose dreams for me were bigger than my dreams were for myself.”