Chikemma Nwana Ezirim ’11, New Jersey

It’s no surprise that a Wartburg alumna who began her career on Wall Street would be honored for her work accomplishments. But Chikemma (Nwana) Ezirim’s leadership with nonprofit work, a passion that developed as a Wartburg student, is perhaps even more commendable.

After graduating summa cum laude from Wartburg in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, Ezirim began her career in New York with Credit Suisse, a large Wall Street firm. Her work as a project manager earned her a “Raising the Bar” award as she managed the buildout of various technology platforms for trading and loan origination. She joined Goldman Sachs in 2014, co-leading their expansion efforts into Latin American markets. As an associate project manager, she also led a cross-functional team of 20 to strengthen the company’s customer protection systems.

In addition to her demanding career, her Christian faith has led her to continue a calling to help others. While at Wartburg, Ezirim and another Nigerian student were awarded a $10,000 grant from Davis Projects for Peace to build a water well in rural Nigeria. That project, called Water for Life Nigeria, would benefit more than 5,000 people. The project was recognized as the best-executed project in 2010, which led to an invitation to the Clinton Global Initiative University. Ezirim continued with WFLN until 2019 as CEO, directing strategic projects in Nigeria such as Water Sanitation and Hygiene, called WASH, and forming partnerships with other nonprofits.

Ezirim’s desire to meet the needs of Nigerians led her to be involved with another nonprofit, Empowering Minds for Tomorrow. As executive director, she leads the organization in its mission of empowering underprivileged children by improving their learning environment to prepare them for future success. Since 2012, when she designed the strategy for the pioneer project, Ezirim has helped the nonprofit provide materials to 1,700 pupils in Nigeria.

To improve her leadership and organizational skills, Ezirim earned an MBA in 2018 from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, one of the top business schools in the U.S. She was a recipient of Kellogg’s full merit-based scholarship for exceptional leadership and professional endeavors. Since 2018, Ezirim has worked as a manager of corporate strategy and development at Xandr, Inc., a digital advertising and media company owned by AT&T. She is responsible for overseeing key strategic initiatives, formulating plans and approach, building partnerships to achieve mission-critical company initiatives, and launching enterprise products. At Xandr, she founded a public speaking club under Toastmasters International, providing a forum for employees to improve their professional development goals; she continues to serve as president of the club. Ezirim also hosted a two-day SHE Summit conference livestream at the company to engage global workplace conversations around women’s issues. Her nominator writes, “I have seen her break the glass ceiling of any situation she find herself in.”

Ezirim and her husband, Kenneth, live in New Jersey.