For the past three decades, Laura Gordon, founder of the eponymous L.A.-based business management firm Gordon & Associates, has helped to buoy the careers of Emmy- and Oscar-winning actors, Grammy-winning musicians and a slate of high profile comedians, producers and directors.
A Black, female accountant in a field primarily dominated by white men, Gordon is a standout, bolstering the financial prosperity of Black artists.
Gordon grew up in San Diego. Her father was an offensive lineman for the Chargers and she was raised to embody a spirited and enterprising work ethic, pushing hard for what she wanted. But her success has not been without challenges — namely the racism and gender discrimination she encountered along the way.
As an economics major at UCLA, Gordon was interviewing for an entry-level position at an accounting firm when she was told that as a Black woman, she would never make partner. For Gordon, raised in a family of accountants, it was an “eye-opening moment.”
“It wasn’t the first time somebody told me what I couldn’t do because I was a Black woman, but it was a moment that happened so soon in my journey trying to enter into the professional space and I was crushed. I drove home in tears,” Gordon says. “The fact that this is what goes on behind closed doors wasn’t surprising, because as any person of color in this country knows, these are things that happen. But the fact that he said it so blatantly was disarming. It knocked the wind out of me.”
After arriving back on campus, Gordon relayed her experience to her friends and then-college sweetheart, who later became her husband. They reminded Gordon of something that has stuck with her ever since: “They said to me, they did you a favor. Why would you want to work in an environment where that’s their mentality?”
Gordon went on to accept a position at Simpson & Simpson, a Black-owned accounting firm in Los Angeles. It was, she says, “a great training ground.”
“It didn’t have those roadblocks. There weren’t people telling you what you couldn’t do. They told you what you could do and that you could do a great job. They opened that path to me.”
When she founded her own firm, which is now on the eve of its 30th anniversary, in 1992, Gordon knew she wanted to give back to the community. That desire took root in Gammy’s House, the firm’s corporate philanthropy arm, which supports various initiatives, both locally and abroad, from scholarship endowments to micro-lending to digging water wells in Zambia.
Formed in 2003 and named after Gordon’s paternal grandmother, Leanor, Gammy’s House aims to empower Black-owned businesses and the next generation of Black entrepreneurs.
Growing up, Gordon worked for her grandmother selling Tupperware. “She was a real woman of faith,” says Gordon. “She’s the reason for our family being so grounded and having deep roots and confidence, knowing we are empowered, that if someone tells you no, we have another path to take.”
Whether donating seed money to an aspiring entrepreneur or inspiring women in Ghana to launch their own businesses, Gordon remains motivated by her grandmother’s beneficent legacy. “I stand on her shoulders, on all the prayers she prayed, the lessons she taught, and I put those things into action,” says Gordon. “I watched my grandmother go from selling Tupperware to doing domestic work and providing elder care— she was diligent and intentional in giving of herself. She modeled what she taught us — that it’s better to give than to receive.”
Today Gordon leverages the financial growth of top players in entertainment, but it’s the impression her grandmother left upon her that continues to inspire.
“I would watch her take fruits and vegetables from her garden and package them for customers or prepare food in Mason jars for winter. She would literally take lemons and turn them into lemonade. She could take very little and somehow turn it into enough to raise an entire family. She never expected anything in return. She was one of the most authentic people I’ve ever met. One day I hope to grow up to be like her.”