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Gail Pankey-Albert ’10 | Business Administration

When it comes to chasing your dreams, Gail Pankey-Albert knows you have to jump right in with both feet.

Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood served as a rickety springboard for Pankey-Albert, who dreamed of attending college since she was a youngster. Unfortunately, her family could only afford tuition for one of her three siblings, so her academic dreams would have to wait.

But not her professional dreams.

Pankey-Albert’s inner drive fueled the rest of her journey,which led her to become the first female minority member to hold a coveted seat on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

“I was determined that if I could not go to college, I was going to find a way to alter the dynamics of my life,” she said. “To me, that meant crossing the East River in search of the right opportunity.”

Pankey-Albert got right to it, graduating from high school on a Friday night and reporting to work at the New York Stock Exchange the following Monday. She had already interviewed
successfully for a position during spring of her senior year of
high school.

By June 1971, she was working as a carrier, which entailed traveling among traders gathering computer punch cards that were then fed into the NYSE’s ticker system. She was quickly promoted to a squad messenger.

“I was now on the trading floor moving correspondence, stock quotes and transactions between various members and their respective clerks,” recalled Pankey-Albert. “The pre-digital NYSE floor was the size of a football field and could be populated with 3,500 people at any given time.”

Only a handful of them were women.

Over the course of the next decade, she would work for several Wall Street firms, serving first as a computer operator; then as an institutional clerk; and, later, as an elected floor official – all the while accruing professional credentials, securities and exchange licenses and working with seasoned colleagues who guided her.

In 1981, Pankey-Albert became the first minority female NYSE seat holder representing York Securities, a discount brokerage house.

Gail Pankey CoverAt the time, seats on the NYSE were a fervently sought-after commodity and Pankey-Albert had radically altered an established mold. She encountered attitudes that ranged from reverence to abject hostility.

“Needless to say, it was a lot to process,” she said.

Pankey-Albert later held a position as vice president and director of floor operations for Fahnestock and Co. Inc., and eventually launched her own institutional trading firm,which remained successful for the next decade.

In March 2001, after a 30-year affiliation with Wall Street, she decided to close the doors of her firm and take stock of her own life. Her new direction would include earning a college degree.

“Up until that time, my academic dreams had been placed on hold,” said Pankey-Albert. “I heard about Thomas Edison State University about 20 years ago, and its groundbreaking format stood out. Like a good investment, I continued to watch the University’s progress. Another NYSE colleague of mine had already obtained his master’s degree from the University,which was one of the deciding factors in my decision to enroll.”

In 2006, she enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree program and completed her degree in 2010.

Pankey-Albert found the University-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES Subject Standardized Tests, which the University readily accepted, an efficient way to earn credit for the college-level knowledge she already possessed.

“In my online courses, I found the discussion board assignments to be an extraordinary way to interact with fellow students who came from all walks of life bringing with them diverse ideas, perspectives and knowledge,” she said. “It was a nurturing and constantly evolving intellectual experience for me.”

Pankey-Albert had plenty to contribute to the discussions.

She has served as chair, moderator and featured speaker at national conferences on subjects ranging from financial markets, pension planning, business policy and ethics and has been a keynote speaker on various industry and academic panels. She has also served on a number of professional and university boards and founded a college scholarship for New York City borough youths. In addition, Pankey-Albert has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine; and from 1994 to 2000, she served as a bimonthly commentator for CNBC’s Street Signs and CNN-FN. She is also featured in the Library of Congress’ 2000 Notable American Women, 7th Edition.

Today, Pankey-Albert lives with her architect husband, Fred, in South Brunswick, N.J. The couple shares their home with two Collie Shepherds named Storm and Jade.

“I want to help adult learners that cross my path to achieve their academic goals like I did,” said Pankey-Albert. “In my experience at Thomas Edison State University I had the pleasure of being the recipient of some of the best mentoring. When I asked for assistance, there were always staff members eager to lend a hand. By their example, I gained clarity about the role I wanted to take for the next chapter of my life. It will be a long way from Wall Street, but it feels so right.”

Toni M. Terry, BA

"I am 67 years old, soon to be 68, and to be able to say I did this at this day in my life is just gratification for my own self."

Watch Toni »