WASHINGTON – Three Howard University alumni were among the names recognized on Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list for their business ventures in the finance, retail and e-commerce and Hollywood and entertainment categories. The prestigious list highlights over 600 imaginative entrepreneurs and changemakers who are “destined to change the world” and make a meaningful impact on society.
Blake Van Putten (BBA ’16) and William Clayton (BBA ’16) are graduates of the Howard University School of Business. Tiana Symone Harris (B.A. ’16) is a graduate of the Howard University School of Communications. They credit much of their success to their time spent and lesson learned at Howard.
Van Putten is recognized in the retail and e-commerce category as the founder of CISE, a Los Angeles based clothing line with the goal of creating apparel that gives a voice to those in society that are typically ignored. Launched in 2020, their very first initiative was the Protect Black People line. Particularly popular was a vegan leather bag with the phrase “PROTECT BLACK WOMEN” emblazoned on the front. The company is on track to surpass $4 million in sales this year. CISE also has an explicit social impact focus: to commit resources and create opportunities that enrich, empower, and celebrate the Black community. A portion of the company’s profits go to charitable organizations like BEAM, the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective.
Clayton is recognized in the finance category for his work as vice president of Seibert Williams Shank, a financial services firm in New York City that offers investment banking, sales and trading, research, and advisory services. In addition to helping Siebert Williams Shank co-manage over $80 billion in transactions for IPO clients, he has personally invested in three startups founded by Black women. After becoming the youngest vice president at the firm in 2020, he and Jonathan Levin drove the firm’s equity capital markets efforts in 2020 and 2021 leading to SWS underwriting a record 67 IPOs. He was also on the deal team last year that served as a co-advisor on the sale of Tyson Foods’ pet treats business to General Mills for $1.2 billion, the largest sell-side advisory deal for SWS that year. Additionally, he has worked with the VC fund, Collab Capital, to help invest in Black founders.
Harris is named in the Hollywood and entertainment category. As the vice president of content strategy at actress Issa Rae’s HOORAE Media, Harris builds campaigns as digital content producer and strategist and applies them for the launch of HBOMax shows ‘Sweet Life: Los Angeles’ and ‘Rap Sh!t’. The Howard alum has gone from Philadelphia and taken her skills to manage the digital presence for BET, Netflix, Lionsgate, Euphoria and more.
“Howard provided me not only with a strong foundation and sense of self-worth that allowed me to excel both during and after my time within its walls, it also provided me with the network to blossom and thrive as I began my career,” said Clayton. “Siebert Williams Shank was co-founded by Chris Williams, a Howard graduate and Collab Capital was co-founded by another alum, Jewel Burks Solomon. Fellow alum Brian Morgan at Truist, gave me my first job post-college and exposed me to investment banking.”
Blake Van Putten
William (Tré) Clayton
About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu