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Women's History Month: Meet Gail Perry-Mason, a trailblazer in the finance industry

Gail Perry-Mason is the senior director of investments at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.
Posted at 7:13 PM, Mar 06, 2024

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Lifelong Detroiter Gail Perry-Mason is the senior director of investments at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. She started her career in finance more than 30 years ago as a receptionist at a brokerage firm.

“People were coming into the front door and nobody looked like me, so that’s when I said wait a minute: no women were coming in the front door, no African Americans were coming in the front door,” Perry-Mason said. “I'm like wait a minute, I have to change this narrative.”

Perry-Mason went back to school to study finance while also caring for her first child.

As she climbed the corporate ladder, Perry-Mason made it her mission to teach others about finance, especially children.

Women's History Month: Meet Gail Perry-Mason, a trailblazer in the finance industry

In 1996, Perry-Mason founded the Money Matters for Youth Camp, a Detroit-based financial literacy program for Detroit kids.

“I call them all my kids related by love, and I love each and every one of them, all 7,000 youth... They're doing so well. They own VC firms now,” Perry added. “Between venture capital firms and working at Huntington Bank or working all over, they're just doing phenomenally.”

Perry-Mason also likes to give back to local kids in foster care. As a former foster child herself, she says it shaped her into the woman she is now.

“They never bought me new shoes when I was in foster care because they said I was just sitting there, but now I buy other people shoes,” Perry-Mason. “I have a soulmate day in Detroit where a child writes what it’s like to walk in your shoes and the adult writes what it’s like to walk in their shoes, then we do a shoe exchange.”

Perry-Mason’s community service has been honored throughout the years. In 2022, she received Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Lifetime Humanitarian Award.

Perry-Mason says the biggest accomplishment in her life is being a mom to her three sons.

“I can’t do anything alone… my children, all three of my sons they have allowed me to bring other people into the home, to do things for others all the time, really to take from them and to give to others.”