11x11: 11 Days, 11 Friends, $11 Increments

HEAF Gala 2023


A Night to Bring Our Future into Focus Celebrating Our Students, Program, and Supporters

Honoring Trailblazers & Role Models:
Sekou Kaalund, Head of Branch and Small Business Banking, U.S. Bank
Evelyn Pérez-Albino, Attorney, Career Strategist and Professional Speaker, and HEAF Alumna
Pamela West, Managing Director, Real Estate Impact Investing, Nuveen

Event Details

Wednesday, October 25, 2023
Cocktails | 6:00 PM
Dinner | 7:00 PM

Cipriani 42nd Street
110 E 42nd St,
New York, NY 10017

For more information please contact Megan Campbell, Chief Development & External Relations Officer –  [email protected]

About Our 2023 Honorees

Sekou Kaalund
Executive Vice President
Branch and Small Business Banking
U.S. Bank

With more than two decades of experience in financial services, Sekou Kaalund knows firsthand the ability financial services institutions have to invest in, influence, and enact meaningful change in communities. As Executive Vice President and Head of Branch and Small Business banking for U.S. Bank, he is responsible for overseeing the organization’s 2,200+ branches across 26 states.  

Prior to joining U.S. Bank, Sekou spent 15 years at JPMorgan Chase in a variety of staff and line leadership roles, including head of Chase Consumer Banking for the Northeast Division. Kaalund previously held roles at Citi and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he was a commissioned bank examiner. 

Sekou’s experience led to his involvement in launching Advancing Black Pathways at JPMorgan Chase, the first global corporate initiative that leveraged a data-driven strategic framework to reduce the racial wealth gap. The success of this initiative led to a historic five-year firm-wide $30B commitment to advance racial equity. 

Sekou’s contributions have been recognized by several organizations, including INROADS 2023 Alumni of the Year; LA Urban League 2023 Corporate Partner Award Recipient; NABA 2022 President’s Award for Leadership and Excellence; Ebony Magazine’s 2020 Power 100 list, “Titans of Industry”; World of Money 2019 Wall Street Legacy Award. He has been featured in publications, including BBC, Forbes, NBC, CNBC, Black Enterprise, and Essence. 

Evelyn Pérez-Albino
Attorney, Career Strategist and Professional Speaker, and HEAF Alumna

Evelyn “Ella” Pérez-Albino is an accomplished Fortune 500 legal executive, employment attorney, DEI professional, and founder of career strategy and HR/DEI consulting firm, Ella Elevates LLC. In her legal career, Evelyn has had a front row seat to the thinking of management and has unlocked the key to skyrocketing her own personal brand and corporate career; as well as those of her coaching clients.

Evelyn served as Associate General Counsel at Meta where she advised on all workstreams impacting global DEI and HR strategy. 


Prior to joining Meta, Evelyn was Director of Labor & Employment at JetBlue Airways Corp and served as a thought leader for the airline’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. She previously served as Labor & Employment Counsel at Advance Publications, Inc. after her time at Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP.

As an employment lawyer with over 20 years of corporate experience, Evelyn brings more than just career strategy to the table – she is a first-generation Afro-Latina corporate professional, and intimately understands the challenges of being a woman of color in Corporate America. Evelyn is a native Spanish speaker, a frequent speaker on topics at the intersection of law, diversity, and career development, and an enthusiastic mentor to young professionals of color. 

Following her participation in HEAF from 5th grade through high school, Evelyn went on to receive her J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law after graduating magna cum laude from the City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, with a B.A. in Psychology and Political Science.

Pamela West
Managing Director, Real Estate Impact Investing, Nuveen

Pamela leads the real estate impact investment strategy within Nuveen’s Real Asset Group. She is a seasoned real estate professional with 20+ years of experience and has executed over $10B of transactions in acquisitions, dispositions financing and asset management within the U.S. She currently oversees the sourcing, execution and portfolio management of Nuveen’s impact investing housing platform.

Prior to joining the team, Pamela was the Regional Head of Acquisitions and Asset Management for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region for TH Real Estate, a subsidiary of Nuveen.


She managed over $2.8B of class A/B housing assets. She began her career in real estate at CBRE. In addition to her professional activity, Pamela is a Board Member of the Real Estate Executive Council, Bold Charter Schools, and City Parks Foundation. She also serves on the Advisory Boards for Leonard W. Wood Center for Real Estate Studies, Veritas Impact Partners and Cooper Housing Institute. She is a member of the ULI Affordable Housing Investors Council and the Real Estate Roundtable’s President Council and New York Women Executives in Real Estate.

Pamela graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an M.B.A. in Real Estate and Finance from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.