Passionate isn’t the first word to come to mind when one thinks of bankers. Yet that’s the word Jean Marie Connolly’s peers use to describe her. Granted, Connolly, who started her career as a secretary at a Bank of New York branch in Yonkers, is not really a banker, per se. As a senior director of BNY Mellon Wealth Management, she provides investment management, fiduciary services, tax and estate planning, and private banking to high net-worth families, corporate executives, and business owners. Connolly finds dealing with familes and their generational wealth intriguing and rewarding. “The clients are a very important part of my life. I’ve laughed with them and cried with them—you get emotionally involved. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be effective; you’d just be transactional.”
And she is more than effective. In 2011, Connolly was named to BNY Mellon’s CEO’s Revenue Leadership Team, a recognition awarded to the top revenue performers nationwide. “Her personal warmth and can-do attitude has been instrumental in supporting and helping to lead the Westchester team for BNY Mellon over the years” says Managing Director James E. Fagan. “She is a special person and I am blessed to be working with her.”
Connolly is a self-proclaimed “people person,” a trait that, combined with her networking skills, has caused her to become known as a mentor and the “go-to gal” in women’s leadership circles. The eldest of six children, Connolly says it’s something she comes by naturally. All of her life, she’s heard, “Go to Jean; she’ll have the answer.”
Connolly also is one of the County’s go-to people when it comes to charitable fundraising, especially for organizations that empower women. She serves on the Board of Directors of Hope’s Door, a safe haven for victims of domestic violence, and has chaired large-scale events for the organization, as well as for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women, Go Red Society, and the Food Bank for Westchester, helping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for these groups.
Connolly, who has received numerous awards for her charitable work, admits that success—whether a personal, professional, or charitable goal—is important to her. “Money doesn’t drive me,” she says, “but success and recognition do.” And, being the people person she is, it’s not just about her own success. It’s also about “making sure those around me—colleagues, family, and friends—are equally successful.”