African-American leaders have been vital to making America strong.
“The road to success is always under construction,” aptly quotes Cheryl McKissack Daniel, President and CEO of McKissack & McKissack, a New York construction company involved in many
major infrastructure projects.
In her position as company head, Cheryl Daniel represents the fifth generation of the oldest family-run minority and woman-owned design and construction firm in the country. For more than a century, McKissack family members have stood on the shoulders of the previous generation to build what is now a multi-million dollar company with 160 employees. In the last few years the company has been growing 17-20 percent in both revenue and clients.
The company was founded in Nashville, Tennessee in 1905 by Cheryl’s grandfather, Moses III (1879-1952). Cheryl McKissack Daniel’s father, William DeBerry McKissack, took over in 1968 and ran the company until 1983 when he suffered a serious heart attack. Next, his wife and Cheryl’s mother, Leatrice Buchanan McKissack, stepped in to effectively managed and grow the business.
Today clients include Columbia University, the NYS Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the NYC School Construction Authority, and in 2013, McKissack & McKissack was announced as part of the construction team that will be working on the re-build of the Tappan Zee Bridge, the 3.1 -mile bridge that spans the distance between Rockland and Westchester Counties and is a vital link across the Hudson River, carrying 138,000 cars per day.
The Family Story in the U.S. Began with Slavery
The tradition of working in the building trade dates to the first family member to arrive in this country. Moses was kidnapped from his home in West Africa; he was only 12 at the time. He was purchased by a Scotsman named John McKissack who provided him with a surname and put the slave to work in the brick-building and construction business McKissack ran with his son, William.