On September 11, 2001, entrepreneur and journalist Meta Mereday, ’84 Advertising, was attending a conference in New Jersey when she heard about the terrorist attack in New York City. She knew she had to do something. When Mereday arrived at Ground Zero, she noticed a barricade separating first responders from the public and ducked under it, eager to support victims of the attack and those they left behind. Nearly 20 years later, Mereday is still motivated by that desire.
“If I had to see the level of destruction that I saw at Ground Zero every day, I can only imagine how I’d survive,” says Mereday. “9/11 really spearheaded my mindset. Coming from a business development arena and focusing on increasing access and opportunities for diverse businesses, I began to focus on our veteran community. My mission is to address what is lacking in veteran business development.”
Since coping with post-traumatic stress related to 9/11, Mereday felt kinship with veterans, many of whom receive specialized training prior to deployment but have trouble finding employment when they return home. In 2008, she founded Veterans Entrepreneurial Development Initiatives, a grassroots organization dedicated to supporting veteran-owned businesses. Her goal? To encourage veteran entrepreneurs to hire other veterans, becoming job creators and service providers. Mereday also advocates for women of color—service members who lead the way in military recruiting but often receive the least support.
For her, diversity and inclusion are central to every business. That’s why her latest venture, a multimedia publication called INFLUENCE DiCOTA (Diversity in Communities, Opportunities, Technologies, Amenities), explores how enterprises can enrich diverse communities. Whether she is launching publications or helping veterans access benefits, Mereday’s mission is to uplift others.
“Diversity is not window dressing,” says Mereday. “What is your diversity component doing to benefit the entire community?”