Ernesta G. Procope
E. G. Bowman Company
When Ernesta Procope founded E.G. Bowman Company as a small insurance agency in Brooklyn in 1953, few African Americans–particularly women–were in the business. But with her drive and entrepreneurial spirit, she beat the odds, grew the business and broke into the mainstream of the American economy. In 1979 the firm became the first major black-owned business on Wall Street.
E.G. Bowman is now a powerhouse–America’s largest minority-owned and woman-owned insurance brokerage–that serves Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits nationally. Its clients include many of America’s largest and most distinguished corporations, such as Philip Morris, Tiffany and Pfizer.
Ms. Procope was a driving force behind the creation of the FAIR Plan in 1968. In the 1960s, when insurers were redlining minority neighborhoods and canceling the firm’s customers, she personally lobbied Gov. Nelson Rockefeller to support legislation that made homeowners insurance available to all homeowners in the state.
Most recently, Ms. Procope became the founder and president of Bowman Specialty Services, LLP, which provides engineering and safety services, with an insurance-prevention focus, to a number of major accounts.
She has received dozens of awards and citations, including Essence magazine’s “2004 Power Award;” one of the”25 Most Innovative Agents in America” from The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research (2004); Turner Broadcasting System’s “2002 Trumpet Award;” enshrinement in the African American Business Hall of Fame (2003); Business Insurance’s “Leading 100 Women in the Insurance Industry;” Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year,” the U.S. Small Business Administration’s “Small Business Person of the Year,” and the Institute for Community Development’s “Community Leadership Award.” In 1972 First Lady Patricia Nixon named her “Woman of the Year.”
She has served on many corporate and nonprofit boards, including The Chubb Corporation, Avon Products, Columbia Gas System, New York Urban League and Cornell University, and chaired Adelphi University’s board. She holds Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Howard University, Adelphi University and Marymount Manhattan College as well as a Doctor of Humane Letters from Morgan State University.