Meet Marcus Felder, WSP’s Newest Board Member

Warrior-Scholar Project is excited to welcome Marcus Felder to our Board of Directors! Originally from Mount Vernon, N.Y., Marcus is a principal with Blackstone in New York City, a global alternative asset management firm. Prior to this role, he served as the director of the veterans program at the Posse Foundation, where he supported program development and maintained university partner relationships.

10 Questions With John Marcus Felder 

1. Tell me about your experience working in higher education. Why did you choose to go in this career direction?

My family has a strong connection to education; my mother is a retired educator, and her older sister is also an educator. I knew I wanted to be around students and work in support of students. As I began my career in New York City, I started to think more about how I could get into the higher education space. My first higher education job was with Guttman Community College, called The New Community College at the time, which provided an opportunity for me to work directly with students. I designed Guttman’s peer mentor program, leveraging student relationships in support of other students both socially and academically.

2. When did you transition to Blackstone? What’s your role with the company?

I started at Blackstone in 2020, first as a vice president and currently serving as a principal. As the head of Blackstone Career Pathways, a program I built alongside Executive Sponsor and Head of Blackstone Private Equity Joe Baratta, we aim to broaden the high-quality talent networks from which our portfolio companies recruit, develop, and advance talent. Accessing historically untapped talent – like people without 4-year college degrees, with disabilities, or from underrepresented communities – helps our portfolio companies build more representative workforces and inclusive cultures and creates lasting value.

3. What drew you to Warrior-Scholar Project? 

WSP CEO Ryan and I already had a great connection through my work with the Posse Foundation. He understood my goals for Posse in terms of pipelines for veterans to access their resources, with the challenge being that there isn’t a defined channel to reach folks as they’re about to transition back to civilian life. A lot of Posse Scholar applicants had done WSP, so I was able to build a relationship with Ryan and the WSP team over the years and have stayed connected even after I left.

4. What are you looking forward to as a WSP board member? 

I’m looking forward to adding value where I can. WSP’s new Career Pathways Initiative aims to connect program alumni to employment opportunities, and that’s built into my role at Blackstone. I’m eager to help WSP with strategy and tap into the programs I’ve built throughout my career that help connect students, particularly veterans, with resources. I’m also excited about being connected to veterans who are really looking for a way to take the next step post-service and seeing education as a vehicle to get there.

5. What makes WSP unique? 

The people — not only the service members who participate in academic boot camps but also those who support WSP, including the staff. The WSP team has achieved tremendous outcomes and results, and it’s incredible to see how the programming helps change lives.  

6. What value do veterans bring to college campuses and the civilian workforce?

As part of the Posse experience, each group was assigned a mentor who was typically a tenured faculty member on campus. When I stepped into the director role in the Veterans Program, I began hearing from mentors about how they didn’t realize how much their classrooms would be impacted by having a veteran as part of the discussion and that their voices added depth to conversations. Some faculty shared they’d changed their curriculum because of something a veteran scholar had shared. Veterans bring a different life experience that both enriches and challenges the college. Similarly, in the workplace veterans are coming in having already had a full career. There are so many skills they’ve developed, learned, and honed that they can apply to their new careers, like thinking innovatively around solutions and adding a diverse perspective.

7. What advice would you give veterans seeking a career in the finance industry?

Find opportunities to build a network with colleagues in the industry. Look for spaces to learn that will give you more insight, and then network, network, network. Also, if there’s interest, try to connect with veterans in the organizations you’re looking to work for. They’ll be able to give specific and helpful advice as you pursue career opportunities.

8. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Be open to different experiences. Many of us think we’ve found a direction in high school or college. If you’d asked me if I’d be at this point in my career when I was in high school, I would’ve likely said no. But everything I’ve done throughout my career has helped me do my current job well and allowed me to gain the skills and knowledge to be where I am today.

9. What are you currently reading?

We had a Black History Month book swap at Blackstone this year and I received The Famished Road by Ben Okri. I’m really excited to start reading it.

10. Just for fun, what’s your NY pizza order?

Straight-up pepperoni. 

Marcus Felder earned his Bachelor of Science in management science from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and Master of Science in Education in Higher Education Administration from the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College.

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