Interview with Marcus Haymon: Lengthening Impact and Shifting Power in the Americas

“We stand uniquely positioned in the Americas, with a portfolio that is 50% regionally focused. This allows us to have dedicated individuals rooted in the communities of both the US and Latin America, who are also able to draw on and connect global insights. I am thrilled to collaborate with clients in my capacity as Regional Director, steering our efforts towards fostering transformative impact through both focused short-term and more sustained long-term engagements.” 

Dalberg Advisors is proud to introduce Marcus Haymon, the newly appointed Regional Director for the Americas. In his new role, Marcus will lead the diverse Americas team across six locations. A pivotal figure in shaping Dalberg’s Justice, Equity, and Economic Mobility (JEM) practice, Marcus brings a distinctive perspective to impact advisory. His journey is marked by a commitment to shaping strategies to advance racial equity, build and shift power, and boost economic mobility. 

In this interview, Marcus shares insights into his leadership approach, strategic vision for Dalberg in the Americas, and his eagerness to drive transformative and systemic impact. 

What excites you most about leading the Americas team at Dalberg?

Marcus: I’m truly excited about the opportunity to lead the incredibly talented and diverse Americas team at Dalberg. What excites me the most is the chance to leverage our unique position and continue to raise the bar for how our field defines social impact. Our regional footprint spans five offices and one strategic presence, allowing us to be deeply embedded in our communities, understand what it takes to drive change, and apply those lessons to address global challenges. Our regional management team stands at nearly 30-strong, doubling since the last Regional Director took over in 2018, and our staff has doubled in the past five years. I am eager to ensure we keep Dalberg’s DNA as we grow to continually question both the impact we have in our work and refine our approach to how we nurture talent as a platform for social impact leaders.

You have been instrumental in shaping the Justice, Equity, and Economic Mobility practice at Dalberg. How has this experience shaped your approach to impact advisory?

Marcus: Early in my consulting career, I witnessed firsthand that many solutions to social impact challenges lacked perspectives of individuals with lived experience in poverty, racial inequity, and other challenges. In establishing the JEM practice, we were looking to build upon our core skills of equity-centered analytics, creative facilitation, and inclusive stakeholder engagement with a deliberate examination of race, gender, equity, and justice. We committed to ensuring that our recommendations were designed with those constructs in mind. My impact advisory work now sits squarely at the intersection of racial equity, economic mobility, and shifting power, and I have been able to build that portfolio of work drawing from not just my skill set as a management consultant but also my lived experience as a Black person in America who has experienced upward mobility. At the same time, a significant portion of my impact advisory work over the past few years involved collaborating directly with leaders of color and engaging in candid conversations about how their identity affects their leadership style and the organizational culture they are trying to build. I am grateful to have worked for a Black-led movement-building organization for a few years, which helped me to hone my own point of view.

What strategic initiatives or focus areas do you envision for Dalberg in the Americas under your leadership?

Marcus: The Americas region presents incredible opportunities. My vision revolves around three key areas. First, sustainable, and impact-oriented growth as we both deepen our work in Latin America and the US and broaden our global portfolio. It’s critical that we pursue both paths in parallel, given our staff and management team’s interest and the value we bring as one region within a global firm that has a geographic footprint in Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. We have an incredible set of existing partnerships to build on, including a multi-year partnership as the Technical Assistance Partner to Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity 2030 initiative whose work spans the United States, Latin America, and West Africa; a role in convening the Education Finance Network that includes 115 global member organizations, of which 20% are based in Latin America and the Caribbean; and a $90M partnership with USAID to scale private sector engagement across the globe. These opportunities, among others, will drive the type of growth that we want to see as a region.

Second, I want us to reflect on talent pathways and double-down on our commitment to training and supporting the next generation of social impact leaders whether they remain at Dalberg for a decade or choose to work at Dalberg for a few years and then use skills and talents in other fora. The social impact field continues to lack diversity and I am particularly passionate about supporting emerging women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ leaders.

Third, we are entering a year where we are likely to see political instability, rising misinformation, and ongoing threats to civil rights and protections. Regardless of the context, I want to ensure we remain responsive to emerging priorities of our clients and partners. Our core craft as a social impact advisory firm is supporting clients and partners to navigate uncertainty and ambiguous problems and 2024 is likely to present deeper levels of uncertainty and ambiguity.

Your leadership journey at Dalberg has involved collaborating with impactful entities. Can you share how a few of these collaborations have shaped your perspective and the impact they’ve had?

Marcus: Working with organizations such as The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Race Forward, Echoing Green, Sesame Workshop, and Blue Meridian Partners, among others. has been an honor and incredibly rewarding. The issues surrounding equity and justice that these organizations are working to address allowed me to explore and understand how deeply entrenched they are. It gave me an opportunity to situate the crucial role an impact advisory firm might play in tackling these challenges. For instance, what began as an initial research and strategy sprint in June 2021 to understand gaps in coordination within the economic mobility field has since evolved to a three-year, multi-stakeholder partnership with the Urban Institute, Common Future, and 15 leaders in economic mobility. This partnership aims to increase upward mobility for individuals historically excluded from prosperity in the US. Looking back, we could never have envisioned Dalberg co-incubating this initiative. However, as the initiative evolved, so did our approach and mode of engagement. I’ve learned that our responsiveness to the evolving needs of our clients and partners positions us better to drive the structural and systemic change we want to see in the world.

As you step into the Regional Director role, what’s on your mind from a leadership standpoint?

Marcus: What’s foremost on my mind is the importance of leading authentically and demonstrating that leadership is not just about what you do but how you do it. I’m a cis-gender man, which comes with tremendous privilege, and I recognize that. Simultaneously, being a Black and gay person has significantly shaped and informed the way I view and navigate institutions. I am most interested in leading in a way that allows me to bring aspects of who I am to this role and demonstrates that effective leadership does not always conform to someone else’s mold. 

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