Margaret Z. Richardson-Wiley

Margaret Z. Richardson-Wiley
Margaret Z. Richardson-Wiley

Former Executive Director
National Minority Supplier Development Council

A native of the rural farming town of Jackson, North Carolina, Margaret Z. Richardson-Wiley’s resolute character led her to become one of this nation’s leading figures in bringing transformative opportunities for minority entrepreneurs. Richardson-Wiley’s ancestors were freed slaves, and her parents grappled to preserve their own land and farming venture against obstacles of racial discrimination in the American South during the early decades of the 20th century.

Richardson-Wiley acquired a nursing education followed by a career in the beauty industry leading to the position of vice president at Summit Labs in the 1960s—one of only two African American-owned manufacturers of black-oriented hair care products in the nation at the time. Richardson-Wiley’s firsthand knowledge of the challenges encountered by minority business owners led her to reposition herself at the New York City office of the National Minority Purchasing Council, which later became the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)–a non-profit organization incorporated in 1973 and committed to providing increased procurement and business opportunities for minority-owned businesses.

Richardson-Wiley’s passion and skill quickly propelled her up the ladder within the institution, first as the executive director of the New York/New Jersey regional branch and, in October 1978, to the central role of executive director of the national organization—notably the first woman to hold that position. Richardson-Wiley left a lasting legacy of expanded business opportunities for minority-owned suppliers, and widened the horizons of the NMSDC’s reach.

By the time Richardson-Wiley retired in the early 1980s, she had decentralized the management of the NMSDC’s network by establishing vice presidents to run branches in six geographic regions to better supervise and cultivate the ever-growing relationships of the organization with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies; sought to leverage minority entrepreneurs by launching a nation-wide program to certify minority-owned firms; advanced the NMSDC’s partnerships with the national government; initiated incubator training programs for minority business owners to help them submit stronger bids and manage larger orders among large-scale suppliers; and identified early on the need for minority entrepreneurs to delve into business ventures within high-tech industries.