Maggie Anderson

Co-Founder, Empowerment Experiment


Margarita “Maggie” Anderson and her family made history and dominated headlines as national media covered their year-long stand and study to use their buying power to counter the social and economic crises, such as crime, unemployment, gang violence, and educational listlessness that disproportionately damage their community. Drawing from W.E.B. Dubois’ “Talented Tenth” challenge, and the capacity of Dr. King’s 385-day Montgomery Bus Boycott to unite people of all backgrounds to use their economic might to create social equality…Maggie Anderson decided to sacrifice one year to support the businesses, Black and not, that could create more pride, employment, role models and wealth in struggling African American communities.

The family’s sacrifice, and the awareness and research it generated were called The Empowerment Experiment (EE). EE resulted in a landmark study conducted by Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management which proved, with the data from the Anderson’s journey, how increased business diversity and proactive patronage of locally owned businesses can 1) counter social crises that disproportionately impact the Black community and 2) markedly improve the American economy as a whole. In the end, Maggie’s family’s stand, backed by the Kellogg study, proved that one million jobs could be created in poverty-stricken communities when consumers, entrepreneurs, and mainstream corporate partners take small steps to proactively support one another.

Maggie is also the author of the critically acclaimed book about EE, Our Black Year, presented by William Morris Entertainment and Public Affairs Books. Publishers Weekly called it “a dynamite subject” and “an effective probe into how African Americans spend so much money that overwhelmingly leaves their communities.” Library Journal also endorsed the validity and importance of the experiment, book and message. “[T]his book will appeal to those looking for inspiration to effect positive change in their communities.” Business and community leaders like Cathy Hughes, Marc Morial, and Alfred Edmond, have also praised Maggie’s stand and their endorsements appear on the cover of her book.

Since the experiment and the book, Margarita has become the face of a conscious consumerism movement uniting consumers, corporations, government entities and the quality businesses that can rescue struggling communities and provide role models to at-risk youth. Margarita appears on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS Newshour, and CBS Morning News, among many other national television and radio shows. A sought-after speaker, she tours the country to present the opportunities the Kellogg study revealed, inspire more consumers to show pride for and invest in their community, and prove the untapped potential of increased business diversity in terms of jobs, economic empowerment, a stronger, more inclusive American economy, and increased racial equality. Dozens of Fortune 500 firms, major universities, and the largest civic and professional organizations have hosted Maggie and endorsed Maggie’s work and message.

Chosen by BET and Centric TV as one of “The Most Fascinating Women of 2016”, and the YWCA as “The Women of the Year” for her work countering racism in the economy… Maggie continues to receive numerous honors, proclamations and awards from the most elite and iconic civic and professional organizations, universities, corporations, municipalities and rights groups such as the National Bar Association, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, Harvard University, New York Life, and many more.

Margarita, a first-generation Cuban-American, has a BA in Political Science from Emory University; and earned her MBA and JD from the University of Chicago, where President Barack Obama was her law professor and mentor. Before the experiment, she was an aide to Congressman John Lewis, a Political speechwriter, a corporate and legal strategy executive at McDonald’s Corporation, and a Strategy consultant.

Maggie lives in Oak Park, Illinois with her husband John (AB, Economics, Harvard University, 1993; MBA, Finance, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, 1999) and their two daughters, Cori and Cara, now twelve and thirteen.