Nnena lived life in the active tense — she encouraged, mentored, collaborated, founded, learned, taught, sang, tried, succeeded, failed, celebrated, loved — above all, Nnena went.
She went to study economics at Princeton, and then to earn her MBA at Columbia. She went to Wall Street as one of the first Black women in the industry. She explored the world fearlessly and went to live in Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, New York City, Nairobi, Lagos, and Cape Town. She left a stable investment banking career and went to start her own company — Otundi — to help African inventors and small-business owners grow their companies and pursue their dreams.
Her willingness to go further to find the best in life was never limited to her professional life — she went to Bali and Thailand for yoga and surfing retreats and professional academies in Florida to take tennis lessons. She went to Egypt to see the pyramids and down to the river to row on cold mornings at Groton. Most importantly, Nnena went out of her way to encourage other traditionally marginalized colleagues and friends fulfill their dreams. She encouraged everyone around her with the same two words: “Go ahead.”
She could confidently tell us to go ahead because she went ahead. She set the bar high. And in the midst of a fruitful season of her life, Nnena has surprised us all by going ahead.
Nnena died Dec. 26, 2021. She’s left a gaping hole in our hearts. She will be missed.