Executive Director, Vot-ER
BCG Atlanta 2013-2016
Since launching this award in 2021, we've been able to recognize ten individuals in our North American alumni community who have proven their ability to make a measurable impact, exert influence, and promote innovation in DEI. Each award comes with a $10,000 prize that BCG donates to a DEI-related charitable organization of the winner’s choice.
BCG knows the importance of DEI. That’s why we founded the North America Center for Inclusion and Equity. Over five years, we are investing $1 million to support organizations in North America that are advancing racial equity.
Lorenna Buck and Malekeh Amini are working hard to create change and advance equity for all. Learn more below about these incredible BCG alums, their work, and the organizations to which they’ll be donating their prizes.
“I grew up knowing that I wanted to do something that breaks down barriers.”
Managing Director, Ariel Alternatives
BCG Boston, 2013-2022; current BCG Senior Advisor
Donation organization: Flare Education
From her earliest days in Delaware, where she grew up as the child of a Black mother and a Japanese father, Lorenna Buck never felt like she fit into any of society’s predesignated boxes. “In some ways, I feel like my entire life has been spent trying to avoid those boxes,” she says. “Instead, I grew up knowing that I wanted to do something that breaks down barriers.”
Indeed, the theme of breaking down barriers is evident throughout Lorenna’s impressive educational and professional journey. It’s a passion that has propelled her to a leadership role at Ariel Alternatives, a private asset management firm with a mission to close racial and ethnic wealth gaps.
But the first barrier Lorenna chose to break was studying electrical engineering at Duke University, where she relished the fact that her very presence increased the diversity of a field where both women and Black people were underrepresented. When liver cancer took the life of her oldest sister, Lorenna decided to pursue a career in cancer research; she obtained a PhD in biological engineering at MIT while studying the effects of chronic inflammation on formation of cancer in the liver.
Eventually, she found her way to BCG. “I recognized that I needed to be in a place where I could have an impact on a shorter timeframe,” Lorenna says. “I spent seven years studying one very specific problem, whereas in my last seven years at BCG I was involved in over 70 different cases.”
During her time at BCG, Lorenna was asked to lead the Black and Latinx affiliation network for the Boston office. As one of the most senior women of color in the office, Lorenna enthusiastically agreed to take on that role—and then went further. With the resounding support of the Boston office leadership, Lorenna moved to implement office-wide programming to further develop a community of inclusion.
“In addition to focusing on how the Black and Latinx network could help ourselves,” Lorenna says, “I wanted to find ways for everyone to contribute to building awareness and understanding around diversity, equity, and inclusion, so that we could have a better office culture and community.” Lorenna’s work led to the development of the Inclusion Accelerators that are now standard in BCG offices around the world.
As Lorenna was establishing herself as a DEI leader within BCG, she was also cultivating a strong reputation in private equity and helping to grow the practice. In 2021, she became the sustainable investing lead for the Principal Investors and Private Equity practice. This built on the work that Lorenna had done to facilitate creation of the ESG Data Convergence Initiative, which helps private equity companies benchmark and track progress on DEI metrics.
After rising to managing director and partner, Lorenna left BCG in 2022 to join Ariel Alternatives. Ariel Alternatives’ inaugural fund, Project Black, aims to sustainably scale minority-owned businesses so they can serve as suppliers of choice to Fortune 500 companies. With $1.45 billion in committed capital, Project Black is one of the largest first-time funds ever raised, regardless of demographics.
As Lorenna puts it: “That shows we have a viable model that has resonated with investors in terms of what we are trying to do by investing, scaling, and growing businesses with the aim to give corporate America access to more diverse suppliers.”
Ariel Alternatives is minority-owned, and seeks to help its portfolio companies obtain minority-owned business status by nature of its ownership. Significantly, this also means that minority-owned businesses that join the Project Black portfolio can expect to remain so under Ariel Alternatives’ ownership.
Ariel Alternatives can also provide its portfolio companies with access to the firm’s network of diverse talent and leadership when the companies are looking to augment their management teams.
Lorenna has also supported Ariel Alternatives’ efforts to grow a diverse investment team.
“Simply by virtue of drawing from our diverse network of talented investment professionals, we ended up with a team that is both majority-minority and features several female leaders,” says Lorenna. “That’s unique in the private equity industry and it’s a point of pride for me.”
Lorenna plans to donate her $10,000 prize to Flare Education, a Boston-based nonprofit that seeks to tackle generational poverty by helping high school students develop foundational skills, build social capital, and improve their financial literacy. Flare Education connects its students with internships at Boston-based employers—a win-win move that enables those organizations to develop a diverse pool of next-generation talent.
Participating students receive a stipend, so they don’t have to choose between participating in the program and getting a job to help support themselves and their families. That resonates with Lorenna, who worked during high school and held up to four jobs simultaneously in college so that she could graduate unburdened by debt.
“I don’t think that everyone should have to do what I did,” she says. “That’s why I’m excited to support a program that allows young people to invest in themselves.”
Lorenna feels honored and fortunate to join the ranks of North America DEI Alumni Award winners. “I have known so many of the prior award winners, and they are such incredible and inspiring people,” she says. “As BCG alumni, we are often in positions of power, which gives us both an opportunity and an ethical responsibility to push for positive change wherever we find ourselves.”
“When I went through my own journey as a parent of someone with behavioral healthcare needs, that’s when I knew that I wanted to take a hands-on role in [addressing] the inequities around access to mental healthcare."
Founder and CEO, Trayt Health
BCG Boston, 1995-1998
Donation organization: One Mind
Malekeh Amini traces a direct path between her childhood in Tehran, Iran, and her current role as founder and CEO of Trayt Health, the company she launched in 2016.
“My father is a retired ENT surgeon, and many times I heard him say that the role of a doctor is to treat a patient, not to make money,” says Malekeh. She recalls how patients who visited her father for consultations would receive a mark in their chart, only after they had been seen by him, indicating whether they had means to pay for treatment; those with the resources would pay, while those who did not received care regardless.
“That sense of social responsibility and commitment to one’s convictions has resonated with me throughout my entire life,” says Malekeh.
Despite her father’s example, Malekeh never thought that she would work in health care. Finding that she excelled in math and physics, she pursued a master’s degree in engineering at the University of Southern California, followed by an MBA at Harvard. She joined BCG straight out of business school.
“I wasn’t actually looking for a career in consulting, but the only reason I considered it was that I was intrigued by BCG,” she explains. “I was drawn into consulting by the amazing BCGers that I met during the interview process and the opportunities to look at different problems, learn business decision-making, and be part of engagements that could shape whole industries.”
Although management consulting was still a male-dominated industry in the 1990s, Malekeh says she was inspired by how committed BCG was to building a diverse team. “That commitment has inspired many of the decisions I have made at my own company,” she says. “Our small US-based leadership team is majority female and represents nine countries. We deliberately celebrate that diversity and all of our differences.”
Malekeh cites two BCGers in particular as influential mentors. The first was Clay Christensen, who was also one of her professors at Harvard Business School. “He was a life mentor who taught me about staying true to one’s values,” reflects Malekeh. “I learned from him that remaining 100% committed to one’s core values makes it so much easier and simpler to make important life decisions.”
Another BCGer who had a big influence on Malekeh is managing director and senior partner Debbie Lovich. “She combines this amazing brainpower with so much humility and kindness,” says Malekeh. “Any time that Debbie walked past my office, she would stop to ask how I was doing and whether she could do anything to help me. I admire her compassion and her faith-based values.”
After leaving BCG, Malekeh worked in several different consulting roles, focusing mainly on health care and education. When one of her sons experienced a series of neurological issues with psychiatric and nonpsychiatric comorbidities, Malekeh was immersed in the struggles of navigating the complex—and inequitable—US mental health care system.
“As a parent, it was extremely difficult to understand whether a symptom was a medication side-effect or a new set of challenges,” she says. “I didn’t know which clinician I needed to call to get that information, and when I did call, I was unable to get the provider. Ultimately, I was forced to go to the ER to get answers and treatments.”
Malekeh’s own journey as a parent of someone with behavioral health care needs inspired her to take a hands-on role in building an impact enterprise that could address the inequities around access to mental health care.
“In my research, I found out that my son’s situation was the norm,” says Malekeh. “All patients in this category have complex disorders and require a more comprehensive and multifactorial approach to their assessment and treatment. I was also a privileged parent. I was, at the time, on the board of Baylor College of Medicine, with extensive access to care and knowledge. The clinic that ended up diagnosing my son within three days had a 2,000-patient waitlist.”
Recognizing a need for better and more equitable behavioral health care, Malekeh cofounded Trayt Health. The company’s mission is to transform mental health care by using data and algorithms to enable more accurate diagnosis and treatment and improve outcomes across populations.
“The data on inequities in the current system speaks for itself—as of last year, there were over 570 counties in the US that were considered mental health deserts, meaning that there were no behavioral health services available to anyone within a 90-minute travel radius,” Malekeh says. “That is a big part of the reason why 50 million US adults and 60% of children with mental health illnesses are not receiving the care they need. It’s a crisis, and these disparities are much higher for certain racial and ethnic groups.”
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly half of white adults accessed needed mental health services in 2021. In the same year, only 39% of Black adults, 36% of Hispanic adults, and 25% of Asian adults accessed such needed services. “Mental health deserts are typically located in lower-income communities with significant challenges in accessing food, transportation, and other basic resources,” says Malekeh. “This is true across the entire spectrum of health care, where your ZIP code defines your health outcomes. In behavioral health, the problem is especially severe due to shortages in specialty providers and reimbursement challenges.”
To help reduce these disparities, Trayt has built a technology that uses collaborative care models, remote patient monitoring, and virtual observations to increase equitable access to mental health services. In April 2023, Trayt received a US patent for its methodology of collecting, synthesizing, and analyzing multifactorial data including symptoms, environmental, and social factors.
Trayt’s methods are getting traction. In the three years since programs launched, Trayt has enrolled almost 13,000 clinicians and served 65,000 patients. In one state, a significant majority of students with severe depression whose providers were supported by Trayt’s service saw significant improvements in their depression scores. “We looked at the data and found that many of the patients who benefitted were those who lived in mental health deserts and would otherwise never have been able to access the care they needed,” says Malekeh. “Seeing these outcomes was incredibly rewarding and energizing.”
Malekeh will be donating her prize from the North America DEI Alumni Award to One Mind, a leading brain-health nonprofit. “They exemplify a data-driven and multidimensional approach to improving mental health diagnosis and treatment models, especially for children and adolescents,” says Malekeh.
As for the future, Malekeh believes progress on equitable access to behavioral health care depends on collaboration among multiple stakeholders.
“The mental health crisis in the United States today is similar to the COVID crisis, which means we need a coordinated public- and private-sector response to save human lives,” she says. “Governments have allocated a lot of funds to address the issue, but these programs are so scattered that it’s difficult to know if they are having any impact. We have the case studies and the data to show that if you take a strategic, data-driven, and coordinated approach to behavioral health, you can make progress on achieving both equitable access to mental health care and improvements in mental health outcomes.”