Hall of Fame Exceptional Leaders

African Americans | Blacks

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Hall of Fame Honoree Testimonials

The Hall of Fame ebook

The LIST

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Myrtle Potter

CEO,

Sumitovant Biopharma, Inc.

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Myrtle Potter is the Chief Executive Officer at Sumitovant Biopharma, Inc., a global, multibillion-dollar biopharmaceutical company. In this role, Potter oversees strategy, investment and operations for five biopharmaceutical companies: Myovant, Urovant, Enzyvant, Altavant and Spirovant in the Sumitovant Biopharma family of companies. These companies span multiple therapeutic areas and modalities, including monoclonal antibodies, gene therapies, regenerative therapies and small molecules. Prior to Sumitovant Biopharma, Potter served as CEO of Myrtle Potter & Company, a healthcare advisory firm that she started in 2005, which still operates today. Potter previously served as President and COO of Genentech and President of U.S. Cardiovascular/ Metabolics at Bristol-Myers Squibb.Potter serves on the boards of several Sumitovant Biopharma family biopharmaceutical companies, including Myovant Sciences, Urovant Sciences, Axovant Gene Therapies and Arbutus Biopharma. Potter also serves on the boards of Liberty Mutual Holding Company and Axsome Therapeutics. She is a trustee of The University of Chicago and previously served on the boards of Amazon, Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions, among others. Potter earned her B.A. from The University of Chicago.

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Catherine Nabukalu

Project Coordinator,

District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility

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Nabukalu first learned about the environmental impacts of that supply chain — including how it leads to vast forest loss — when she traveled to Uganda in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of her master’s degree in environmental studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Born in Kampala, Uganda, Nabukalu had roots in the region before earning her master’s degree. Separate from the work she did in the region while in her environmental studies program, she traveled to Kumi, Uganda, to lead a reforestation effort with the Green Teso Initiative. Her team planted more than 20,000 trees at five primary schools in the region. "Our goal was to make sure that school children have trees so that they could play under the shade in eastern Uganda," Nabukalu says. "That is one of the things that I'm most proud of in terms of philanthropy." The project achieved a 90 percent success rate for seedlings within five months. Raising awareness about the energy demand associated with forest loss is one of Nabukalu’s goals. She says even more important is figuring out how to replenish the world's forests at a faster rate than we're cutting them down. As project coordinator at the District of Columbia’s Sustainable Energy Utility, Nabukalu focuses on helping reduce energy demand for residents, businesses and institutions throughout the Nation’s Capital, working with the account management and engineering teams to reach that goal.

Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett

Lead Scientist, 

Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine Team

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At a December event hosted by the National Urban League, Dr. Anthony Fauci had one very important thing to say about the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, aka “mRNA-1273,” approved by the FDA for emergency use on Dec. 18. “The first thing you might want to say to my African-American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine that you’re going to be taking was developed by an African-American woman,” Fauci said. “And that is just a fact.” Indeed, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a 35-year-old viral immunologist and research fellow in the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is the lead scientist on the team that developed the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. She built on her six years of experience studying the spike proteins of other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS in order to design the vaccine within two days of the novel coronavirus being discovered. (Spike proteins sit on the surface of coronaviruses and penetrate human cells, causing infection.)  “I like to call it the plug-and-play approach,” Corbett, who has a PhD in microbiology and immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a virtual NIH lecture on Oct. 15. “Basically the idea [is] that we had so much knowledge based on work from us and from other labs previously that we were able to pull the trigger on vaccine development and start the ball rolling toward a phase 1 clinical trial.”

Van Jones

President

Magic Labs Media

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Anthony Kapel "Van" Jones (born September 20, 1968) is an American news and political commentator, author, and lawyer. He is the co-founder of several non-profit organizations, a three-time New York Times bestselling author, a CNN host and contributor, and an Emmy Award winner.Jones served as President Barack Obama's Special Advisor for Green Jobs in 2009 and a distinguished visiting fellow at Princeton University. He founded or co-founded several non-profit organizations, including the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and the Dream Corps. The Dream Corps is a social justice accelerator that operates three advocacy initiatives: #cut50, #YesWeCode and Green for All. Jones has hosted or co-hosted CNN shows including Crossfire, The Messy Truth, The Van Jones Show and The Redemption Project with Van Jones. He is the author of The Green Collar Economy, Rebuild the Dream, and Beyond the Messy Truth; all three books rank as New York Times bestsellers. He is the co-founder of Magic Labs Media LLC, a producer of the WEBBY Award-winning Messy Truth digital series and Emmy Award-winning The Messy Truth VR Experience with Van Jones. He is a regular CNN political commentator. Jones worked with the Trump administration and members of Congress from both parties to pass a criminal justice reform effort known as the First Step Act. Jones is currently CEO of the REFORM Alliance, an initiative founded by Jay-Z and Meek Mill to transform the criminal justice system. He was also a longtime colleague of, and advisor to, musician Prince

Savonala Horne

Executive Director

Land Loss Prevention Project

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Savonala Horne is the Executive Director of the Land Loss Prevention Project, an organization that works to stop land loss in African-American communities throughout North Carolina. She leads an organization that provides assistance to all financially distressed and limited resource farmers and landowners through the use of litigation, public policy, and promoting sustainable agriculture and environment.They were incorporated in 1983 with the intent to stop the massive losses of Black owned land in the state and in 1993 they broadened their scope to include legal support and assistance to all financially distressed and/or limited resource farmers and landowners throughout the state.

They have a partnership with North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T to develop educational materials and provide workshops for landowners for forestry issues and conservation.

Rue Mapp

Founder & CEO

Outdoor Afro

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Rue Mapp is the Founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, a national not-for-profit organization with offices in Oakland, CA, and Washington, D.C. Rue oversees a carefully selected and trained national volunteer leadership team of nearly 90 men and women who represent 42 cities around the US, and shares opportunities to build a broader community and leadership in nature. Her important work has generated widespread national recognition and support.In 2010, Mapp was invited to the Obama White House to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference, and subsequently to take part in a think-tank to inform the launch of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative. She is proud to serve on the Outdoor Industry Association and The Wilderness Society boards. In 2014, Rue was appointed to the California State Parks Commission by Governor Jerry Brown. She was named a National Geographic fellow, and a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated.  In 2020, Outdoor Afro was chosen to be highlighted and visited by Oprah on her 2020 Vision Tour. A graduate of UC Berkeley (with a Degree in Art History), Rue’s skills and background make her a unique voice via the leadership and programs she has instituted through her career, enlightening a diverse community to the wonders and benefits of the outdoors.

Jacqueline Patterson

Senior Director,

NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program

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Jacqueline Patterson is the Senior Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. Since 2007 Patterson has served as coordinator & co-founder of Women of Color United. Jacqui Patterson has worked as a researcher, program manager, coordinator, advocate and activist working on women‘s rights, violence against women, HIV&AIDS, racial justice, economic justice, and environmental and climate justice. Patterson served as a Senior Women’s Rights Policy Analyst for ActionAid where she integrated a women’s rights lens for the issues of food rights, macroeconomics, and climate change as well as the intersection of violence against women and HIV&AIDS. Previously, she served as Assistant Vice-President of HIV/AIDS Programs for IMA World Health providing management and technical assistance to medical facilities and programs in 23 countries in Africa and the Caribbean. Patterson served as the Outreach Project Associate for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Research Coordinator for Johns Hopkins University. She also served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica, West Indies. Patterson holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University. She currently serves on the Steering Committee for Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, Advisory Board for Center for Earth Ethics as well as on the Boards of Directors for the Institute of the Black World, The Hive: Gender and Climate Justice Fund, the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, Greenprint Partners, Bill Anderson Fund and the National Black Workers Center.

Fareedah Shaheed

CEO & Founder,

Sekuva

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At Sekuva, Fareedah Shaheed teaches online security to non-tech savvy people. Shaheed recently signed a five-figure contract with a multi-billion-dollar company to provide online security training for its employees on staying safe at work and at home. After being featured at Cisco for her work, she is now working on two additional projects with the tech giant. Inspired by her childhood in Saudi Arabia, where, as the only Black American in her school, she was bullied for her skin color and American roots, Shaheed wants to teach people how to protect their spaces online much like she had to do in person.

Tyrik McKeiver

VP

Ogilvy

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Ty McKeiver, joined Ogilvy’s Government Practice in December 2020 as the CERC-Liaison in FEMA Region 5. In this capacity, he is leading multi- faceted and integrated communications projects to help FEMA Region 5 and its community stakeholders promote community resilience to flood risk. Prior to Ogilvy, Ty was a Vice President for Global Strategy and Communications in the Global Financial Crimes Division at MUFG Bank, Ltd. There, he designed and delivered a global communications strategy that supported executive communications and employee engagement campaigns to raise awareness on global financial crimes compliance and risk management. Previously, he was Chief of Staff in the NYC Mayor's Office for International Affairs where he was the chief strategist and focused efforts to strengthen sub-national engagement on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and promoted city diplomacy. Prior to that, Ty was a political appointee in the Obama Administration and served as a Senior Advisor at U.S. Department of State. While at State, he worked on initiatives to promote and enhance rule of law and criminal justice capacity building efforts globally in the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau; coordinated domestic and international efforts on CVE in the office of the Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights; and oversaw both functional and regional bureaus in the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources. He has worked in various legislative and public affairs capacities at the U.S. Transportation Security Administration at DHS and the Bureau of Industry and Security at the Department of Commerce. As a professional staff member on the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security he focused on emergency communications, preparedness and response, and as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate he worked on immigration, telecom, judiciary, and government affairs issues. He was a field organizer for the Obama presidential campaign in 2008 and has volunteered in various capacities on a number of political and social campaigns at the local, state, national, and global levels. He received a Master of International Affairs degree with a focus in international security policy and management from Columbia University's School of
International and Public Affairs and Bachelor's degree in international relations from Florida International University.

Morgan DeBaun

Founder & CEO

Blavity

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Morgan DeBaun is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Blavity, Inc., the largest media company for Black millennials. Under her leadership, the company has successfully acquired Travel Noire, a travel platform for Black millennials, and Shadow and Act, a Black entertainment news site. DeBaun has also launched several consumer summits, including Summit 21, for Black women creators and entrepreneurs, and AfroTech, the largest tech conference for Black innovators and founders. She is also the founder of M.Roze Essentials and WorkSmart. DeBaun received her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Washington University in St. Louis.

Asahi Pompey

Global Head of Corporate Engagement & President,

Goldman Sachs Foundation

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Asahi Pompey is Global Head of Corporate Engagement and President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. She is a member of the Management Committee, Global Diversity Committee and the Sustainable Finance Steering Group. Ms. Pompey is also an ex-officio member of the Investment Banking Division Council for Advancement of Racial Equity. Prior to assuming her current role, Ms. Pompey was Co-Chief Compliance Officer of Goldman, Sachs & Co and Global Head of Investment Banking Division Compliance, and had responsibility for conduct risk. She joined Goldman Sachs in 2006 and was named Managing Director in 2010 and Partner in 2018.

Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Pompey was an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, where she worked in the New York and Frankfurt offices. Ms. Pompey serves on the Advisory Boards for Forbes Next 1000 and Glamour Women of the Year. She also serves on the Advisory Council for the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream.

Julie Wenah

Associate General Counsel, Civil Rights and Product Lead,

Facebook

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Julie Wenah has joined Facebook in May this year, as Associate General Counsel, Civil Rights and Product Lead at Facebook reporting into Roy Austin.  Earlier in January this year, Women In Product  appointed Julie Wenah's to their Board of Directors. Prior to joining Facebook, Wenah served as Airbnb's Community Senior Counsel and Acting Africa Regional Counsel, where she drove legal support of civil liberties efforts, manages escalated risk, provides legal support to the Africa business, and counseled the product and community support teams. She also led Airbnb's pro-bono and legal diversity inclusion efforts.Prior to Airbnb, she served as Counselor and Policy Advisor at the White House and U.S. Department of Commerce, where she led President Obama's manufacturing initiative and worked on regulatory frameworks and technical assistance supporting energy agreements in Africa. She began her career in Washington working in First Lady Michelle Obama's policy shop and she later culminated her experience by advancing the Liberian segment of Mrs. Obama's CNN film, "We Will Rise."

Jarrid Tingle

Managing Partner

Harlem Capital

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Jarrid Tingle is Managing Partner of Harlem Capital where he focuses on deal sourcing, organizational strategy, and due diligence efforts. Jarrid was featured on the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 list, 2019 Inc. 30 under 30 list, and the 2018 Ebony Power 100 list. He received his MBA from Harvard Business School (HBS) in 2019 where he was a Baker Scholar (top 5% of class). During HBS, Jarrid was a fellow in the Robert Toigo Foundation and Management Leadership for Tomorrow MBA Programs. Previously, Jarrid was a Private Equity Investment Professional at ICV Partners. Prior to ICV, Jarrid was an Investment Banker in the Global Technology, Media & Telecommunications Group at Barclays. Jarrid graduated cum laude from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Concentration in Finance. Jarrid was an active member of Friars Senior Society, Onyx Senior Honor Society, and The Lantern Senior Society. Upon graduation, Jarrid received the Wharton Undergraduate Dean’s Award for Excellence (Wharton’s highest honor).

Arva Rice

President & CEO,

New York Urban League

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Arva Rice is President & CEO of the New York Urban League (NYUL) an organization whose mission is to enable African Americans and other underserved communities to secure a first class education, economic self-reliance and equal respect of their civil rights through programs, services and advocacy.   Prior to joining NYUL, she served as the Executive Director of Project Enterprise, an organization that provides business loans, and technical assistance to entrepreneurs.    Previously she served as the founding Executive Director of Public Allies New York – a young adult leadership program dedicated to helping develop the next generation of non-profit leaders.  Arva was also Program Director of an Economic Literacy Initiative at Girls Incorporate, a national non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring girls to become strong, smart and bold. Arva was selected by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as one of 16 leaders from across the country for its 2013-2014 Children and Family Fellows.  She is a recipient of The Network Journal’s “Forty Under 40” Black Achiever’s Award Winners, and also received the magazine’s 25 Most Influential Women in Business Award.  Most recently she received The Chancellor’s Educational Leadership Award from CUNY and an alum award from Northwestern University. Arva is a graduate of Northwestern University, Commissioner for the NYC Equal Employment Practices Commission, a member of the Women’s Forum and the Greater New York Chapter of The Links Incorporated. 

Ken McNeely

President, AT&T West,

AT&T

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Ken McNeely is responsible for all external affairs, public policy, and philanthropic activities for AT&T in California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska. In 2013, Ken received the Black Business Association’s Top 100 African Americans in Technology Award; in 2014, the Vanguard Award from Equality California; and in 2017, the Luminary Award from Our Family Coalition. Ken serves as a board member for the California Chamber of Commerce, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Bay Area Council, and the CSU (California State University) Foundation Board of Governors, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Ken earned his B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his J.D. from Howard University School of Law.

Adewale Ogunleye

Head, Sports & Entertainment,

UBS

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Wale heads the UBS Sports and Entertainment business in the US, drawing on his experiences as a college and professional football player to help Financial Advisors understand and address the complex and unique needs of athletes and entertainers. In his new position, he is coordinating educational programs to help young professional athletes improve their financial literacy and manage their newfound wealth responsibly. Last month, Ogunleye and UBS announced a partnership with the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to offer that education to students at 14 colleges and universities. Adewale Ogunleye is a retired NFL Pro Bowl Defensive End. He played 11 seasons from 2000-2010. He was signed by the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2000 where he played until 2003. During the 2003 NFL season, while playing for the Miami Dolphins, he led the AFC with 15 sacks.  He was named to the Pro Bowl after that season. In 2004, he was traded to the Chicago Bears.  In 2006, he was a team captain when the Bears reached Super Bowl XLI. In 2010, Adewale’s last year in the NFL was spent as a member of the Houston Texans. He finished with career totals of 389 tackles, 67.5 sacks, 17 forced fumbles, 14 fumble recoveries, 2 safeties and 1 interception. Adewale was born in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Tottenville High School in Staten Island, NY. He went to college and played football at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. In 1999, he graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences with his Bachelor of Arts in English. He was inducted into the Indiana University Athletic Hall of Fame, Class of 2014. In May of 2014, after finishing his professional career in the NFL, Adewale earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from George Washington University in Washington D.C.

Kevin Davis

Senior Managing Director, Capital Markets, JLL

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Kevin Davis is a Senior Managing Director in JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group in New York, where he is responsible for raising debt and equity capital for hotel owners, and is one of the leaders of the Hotel Investment Banking group. In this role, Mr. Davis works closely with the lending community, including banks, life insurance companies, debt funds, mezzanine providers and CMBS lenders, as well as institutional owners of commercial real estate.

Matthew N. Portis

Founder and President,

Solgreen

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Have you ever been in a situation where your devices are in need of a charge, but all the outlets inside the coffee shop are occupied and you forgot to pack your power bank? Well, SolGreen has created a solution. As the first to invent, engineer, and patent a solar workstation, their Evodia Solar Workstation generates power to charge cellphones, laptops, lighting, and Wi-Fi. Akron, Ohio native, Matthew Portis, founder of SolGreen and inventor of the Evodia, thought of the idea to create an outdoor solar-powered workstation, after visiting a bookstore and wondering why none of the patrons were using the outdoor seating. Portis came to the conclusion that most people stayed inside the bookstore because there was no access to power to charge their devices outdoors. The solar-powered workstation provides adequate seating for crowded facilities and is built to withstand harsh outdoor environments. SolGreen has grown to be the only Black-owned systems engineering company in the world that builds state of the art off-grid renewable energy technology solutions for communities internationally. Next, the company plans on honing in on its public health mission and providing hospitals and medically-related industries with their workstations.SolGreen is leading the charge in the cleantech industry with innovation, passion, and creativity. Its Evodia Solar Workstations are currently used in 80 locations. 

Jason Carney

Founder & CEO

Energy Electives

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A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Jason Carney became the first African-American in the entire state to obtain the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification. Carney worked as the former Clean Energy Program Manager with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and moved forward to create Energy Electives, an energy company that provides the materials and services to help homeowners save money, improve comfort, and conserve energy. Over several years, Carney has given guest lectures about clean energy, accompanied students on field trips to nearby Music City Solar, the local utility's community solar project, and started a solar project at Whites Creek High School, a majority-black, majority-low-income public school that is a seven-minute drive from his home in north Nashville.

Dr. Tony G. Reames

Asstt. Prof. & Director, Urban Energy Justice Lab, School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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Dr. Tony G. Reames is an assistant professor and director of the Urban Energy Justice Lab at the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He is a JPB Environmental Health Fellow at Harvard University (2018-2021), and a visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at University of Pennsylvania (2020-2021). Dr. Reames is an interdisciplinary scholar. He has a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration from University of Kansas, a Master of Engineering Management from Kansas State University, and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. Dr. Reames’ research investigates the fair and equitable access to affordable, reliable, clean energy, and explores the production and persistence of energy disparities across race, class, and place. He is a licensed professional engineer and has worked in both the public and private sectors. Dr. Reames is an US Army veteran, reaching the rank of Captain. Dr. Reames has been named to the Grist 50 Fixers list, Midwest Energy News 40 Under 40, and Oakland County, Michigan Elite 40. He was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice and to the Governor’s Climate Justice Braintrust.

Gilbert Campbell

Founder & CEO

Volt Energy

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Volt Energy www.volt-energy.com, a national solar energy development company, announced the selection of co-founder and CEO Gilbert Campbell to serve on the executive committee of the Board of Directors of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)  Solar Energy Industries Association. Campbell was elected to the SEIA Board in 2019. He will contribute to the implementation of SEIA's Solar Vision for the Biden administration and 117th Congress, an agenda that SEIA is dedicated to moving forward within the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration.  Founded in 2010, Volt Energy is a minority-owned national renewable energy firm that finances and develops utility-scale and distributed generation solar projects and energy storage solutions for commercial, government, educational and non-profit institutions. Volt specializes in crafting flexible utility-scale Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) that offer price predictability and service reliability for the customer and long-term solid returns for the investor.

Mark Davis

Founder and President

WDC Solar

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Mark Davis is the founder and President of WDC Solar, Inc., a minority-owned solar installation company located in Washington, D.C. Mr, Davis saw the potential role of solar power in mitigating the energy costs for low-income populations, the elderly and the disabled. He created WDC Solar, Inc. to ensure that low-income communities have a stakeholder interest in the solar industry. Mr. Davis in conjunction with the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility ("DCSEU"), created a low-income solar program designed to offer free solar systems to low-income residents who meet specified income guidelines. As an adjunct to this program since 2011, and at no cost, Mr. Davis has trained low-income men and women to enter the field of solar installation Mr. Davis majored in communication and was a star student-athlete at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA where he played basketball on an athletic scholarship from 1978 to 1981. In 2015 Mr, Davis was recognized as a Green For All Climate Champion. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fox News and the Sierra Club Magazine have recognized his work. Mr. Davis was the guest of President and Mrs. Obama for President Obama's State of The Union Address in 2016.  

Keia Cole

Head of Digital Experience

Mass Mutual

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The 39-year-old boasts quite a diverse résumé: Cole is an alumna of the Obama administration and the Department of Education, practiced as a litigator, and worked as an analyst at Morgan Stanley. Now, she heads up digital experience at the Massachusetts-based firm, which saw profits jump 830% year over year in 2019 on $37.3 billion in sales. Cole spearheads MassMutual’s customer-focused products including its web and mobile apps, and recently accelerated the rollout of a digital client profiling tool that helps the firm’s financial professionals learn more about clients while they’ve been unable to meet in person. Apart from working to fast-track some of the firm’s digital projects, Cole has also been a key voice in leading dialogue within the company about racial injustice, and says her favorite piece of career advice, to “take good care of your people,” has taken on a whole new meaning in light of the pandemic and racist violence of the past few months.

Olugbenga Agboola

Co-founder and CEO

Flutterwave

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In 2020, COVID-19 lockdowns across the world hit brick-and-mortar businesses hard. Africa’s small shops and restaurants, very few of which have an online presence, were particularly vulnerable. Enter Flutterwave, a tech startup based in San Francisco and Lagos, Nigeria, that is known for helping companies process customers’ online transactions during checkout. Amid lockdown, Flutterwave expanded from specializing in digital cash registers to hosting digital storefronts, helping some 20,000 small businesses suddenly without foot traffic set up online shops, receive payments and arrange delivery options. “We called it ‘Keeping the Lights On,’” says Olugbenga Agboola, Flutterwave’s co-founder and CEO, who lives in Washington, D.C. The company processed more than 80 million transactions, worth $7.5 billion, in 2020, establishing it as Africa’s premier payment-solution provider. Now Flutterwave—which already has a presence in 17 African countries—is planning to leverage that momentum into greater expansion, so that a customer in South Africa, for example, can seamlessly use her Kenyan digital wallet to buy products in Senegal. “Africa is not a country,” says Agboola. “But we make it feel like one.” Prior to Flutterwave, Agboola, a graduate of the MBA program at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, worked as an application engineer at PayPal and in product management at Google Wallet.

Michael Seibel

Managing Director & Group Partner, Y Combinator

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Michael works at Y Combinator as a Group Partner and Managing Director of YC early stage. Previously, he was a co-founder and CEO of Justin.tv from 2007 - 2011 and the co-founder and CEO of Socialcam in 2012. During 2012, Socialcam participated in Y Combinator, raised angel financing from a group of amazing investors, and sold to Autodesk Inc. for $60m (link). Needless to say - it was a busy year. In 2014, Justin.tv became Twitch Interactive and under the leadership of Emmett Shear and Kevin Lin sold to Amazon for $970m.

 

Before getting into tech, Michael spent a year as the finance director for a US Senate campaign and before that he graduated from Yale University with a bachelor's degree in political science. 

Raven Baxter

Science Communicator

Raven, The Science Maven

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Raven Baxter, also known as Raven the Science Maven, is an award-winning and internationally acclaimed science educator and molecular biologist who works to progress science culture by creating spaces that are inclusive, educational, and real. She is an entertainer and content creator known for her unique style of combining science and music that teaches and empowers those in STEM and beyond. Raven speaks about innovation in science education and social change in STEM. She is completing a doctorate in science education in May 2021. Raven is the founder of Science Haven, an organization that operates at the intersections of science, education, and the public. Science Haven houses STEMbassy, a live web series that connects the public with science and technology professionals, and Black In Science Communication, a group that works to build relationships in the science community, equipping others with the knowledge and resources necessary to share science with the world in their own flavor. Raven also owns and operates Smarty Pants, a clothing company that sells fun and stylish STEM-themed apparel and accessories. Smarty Pants also contributes a portion of its sales toward a scholarship for STEM students. Raven has quickly developed a reputation as a strong voice in science and has been recognized as a global influencer in several publications, including Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40 list for 2020. Raven has also earned the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence in honor of her service in educating the public about COVID-19.

Dr Abasi Ene-Obong

Founder & CEO

54gene

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Dr Abasi Ene-Obong is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of 54gene, a health technology company advancing the state of healthcare through large scale discovery and translational research, advanced molecular diagnostics, and clinical programs for the benefit of Africans and the global population. He holds a PhD in Cancer Biology from University of London, a Masters in human molecular genetics from Imperial College London and a Masters in Business Management from Claremont Colleges, California. He also worked as a cancer researcher and published a seminal paper on pancreatic cancer immunology, Gastroenterology Journal. He has extensive experience operating in the US, UK and Nigerian healthcare industries. Prior to 54gene, Dr Ene-Obong worked with leading healthcare organisations, including Fortune 100 pharmaceutical companies, academic and research institutions, and governments as a management consultant with PwC and IQVIA (formerly QuintilesIMS). Founded in 2019, 54gene has made the Time Magazine list of 12 innovations that would change healthcare in the 2020s and has been listed by Nigeria’s Punch newspaper as 1 of 5 innovations that would improve healthcare for Africans. 54gene also made the Fast Company list of the world’s ‘Most Innovative Companies’ in 2020. It was also awarded the best health technology solution by AppsAfrica and Dr Ene-Obong was listed as 1 of 30 most innovative entrepreneurs on the African continent in 2019 by Quartz Africa. In September 2020, Dr Ene-Obong was labelled a Nigerian hero in the fight against COVID-19, by Nigerian newspaper, ThisDay, and also included in Fortune’s 40 under 40 most influential people in healthcare for the year 2020.

Helen Adeosun

CEO & Founder

CareAcademy

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Helen Adeosun, CEO and Founder of CareAcademy, has had a career in driving outcomes for adult learners and has been listed as one of Fortune’s 2020 40 Under 40 in Health. She has first-hand experience as a caregiver and has worked with Teach for America, Boston Public Schools, and Pearson Education as well as a number of companies focused on caregiving issues. Adeosun, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants and a former Teach for America volunteer, got a master’s in education policy at Harvard before founding her Boston-based business in 2013. Seven years later, health care organizations (including fellow 40 Under 40 member Lily Sarafan’s Home Care Assistance) use its online video coursework to help their employees stay up-to-date on their certifications and other training requirements. More than 110,000 caregivers have completed 400,000 CareAcademy classes, and the company is aiming to reskill more than 1 million new home-care workers by 2023. It will have some support from venture fund Kairos, which is placing job candidates who go through CareAcademy training, and from investors led by Impact America Fund, which in June committed $9.5 million in Series A funding to Adeosun and her company.

Jasmine Crowe

Founder & CEO

Goodr

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Jasmine Crowe, an HBCU alumna who is working to make the world a better place by reducing food waste and ending hunger. She has hosted activations in more than 20 US cities and the UK, South Africa and Haiti and has has collected and donated over 2 million items to causes worldwide and fed over 80,000 people through the Sunday Soul Homeless feeding initiative. Through her years of work feeding vulnerable populations she saw a great opportunity for technology to solve a real problem – hunger. In January of 2017, she created Goodr, a tech enabled sustainable food waste management company with a goal to eliminate hunger and reduce food waste. Under Jasmine’s direction Goodr has now diverted nearly two million pounds of food from landfill and serves clients including: Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson Airport, SAP, NFL, The Georgia World Congress Center, Netflix and more. The mission of Goodr is simple, Feed More, Waste Less. The company now operates in six cities and growing with a goal to be in 20 cities by 2020.

Imani Ellis

Director of Communications, Lifestyle Networks, NBCUniversal Media, LLC

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With a proven track record of innovation, execution & results, Imani currently works on the Bravo and E! Entertainment communications team at NBCUniversal, spearheading press strategy on a variety of shows including Bravo's Emmy-Nominated "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," “The Real Housewives of New York City,” Emmy-Nominated "Million Dollar Listing New York," and E! News programming. She also works on key diversity and inclusion initiatives and manages social insight and strategy. Forbes Magazine calls Imani a "visionary" and she was recently named a 2020 Adweek Diversity Champion.

Imani is a graduate of Vanderbilt University where she majored in Communications with a double minor in German and Film. She is the founder of The Creative Collective NYC and CultureCon.

Jasmine Shells

Co-founder & CEO

Five to Nine

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Jasmine is the Co-Founder & CEO of Five to Nine, a VC-backed startup that's influencing the future of work. Five to Nine allows companies to better manage and measure the efficacy of their employee engagement programs. Currently, less than 10% of companies know the ROI behind their employee programming/events and her team is closing that gap. Five to Nine has raised $1.2M and has been invested in by top firms such as Kapor Capital and Morgan Stanley. Jasmine is one of Forbes’ latest 30 Under 30, a graduate from the University of Notre Dame, an MBA candidate at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business (recipient of the inaugural Entrepreneurial Scholarship), and a U.S. Department of State Fellow. In her spare time, Jasmine loves to salsa dance, teach youth about entrepreneurship, and serve on the Alumni Board for her alma mater, Notre Dame. Jasmine has been featured in Vice, Forbes, Business Insider, TEDx, Black Enterprise, Yahoo Finance, Marketwatch and others.

Trinity Mouzon Wofford

Co-founder

Golde

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In 2020, the Black-owned wellness company Golde made five times the amount of revenue that it did in 2019. In the month of June alone, the company saw more sales than in the entirely of 2019. CEO and co-founder Trinity Mouzon Wofford (the youngest Black woman to launch a business at Sephora) started the brand with her high-school sweetheart Issey Kobori in 2017. Their goal: to make the buzzy world of wellness more accessible and fun for the next generation of consumers. Driven by the lockdown, the increased interest in self-care, and the growing movement to support Black-owned businesses following the murder of George Floyd, Golde’s growth has been “nothing short of an explosion,” Mouzon Wofford says. Kourtney Kardashian and Beyoncé featured the brand’s Clean Greens mask. In August, the company appeared on the Today show and had its biggest sales day ever. Business continues to thrive, with Golde now launching at Target with Super-Ades, a collection of beverage powders for $15 and under containing super-ingredients like probiotics, magnesium, blueberries, and pineapples that you can easily mix with water. The brand’s masks can be found at the national retailer now too. 

Walter Powell

Chief Branding Officer & Co-Founder, Politiscope

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Walter Powell is a 4-year NFL Player and Entrepreneur. He launched the successful clothing line, SPKZ, in New York through VaynerMedia selling snapback caps and other headgear. Walter also owns real estate in St. Louis, Missouri where he restores damaged properties and opens them up for retired US Veterans. He actively works with other athletes and entrepreneurs to promote leadership and financial security to underprivileged communities.

Yeshimabeit Milner

Executive Director

Data for Black Lives

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Yeshimabeit Milner is co-founder and executive director of Data for Black Lives. Raised in Miami, FL, Yeshimabeit began organizing against the school-to-prison pipeline at Power U Center for Social Change as a high school senior. There she developed a lifelong commitment to movement building as a vehicle for creating and sustaining large-scale social change. Yeshimabeit returned to Power U in 2013 to lead a victorious campaign to improve breastfeeding policies at the largest public hospital in the country. More recently, she was a campaign manager at Color of Change, where she spearheaded several major national initiatives, including OrganizeFor, the only online petition platform dedicated to building the political voice of Black people, and a successful campaign to remove Bill O’Reilly from television. She has a BA from Brown University and serves on the board of the Highlander Center in Tennessee.

LaShonda Anderson-Williams

SVP, Healthcare & LifeSciences

Salesforce

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LaShonda Anderson-Williams is currently the Senior Vice President of the Pharma Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry Team at Salesforce, one of the first global companies to successfully employ cloud-based software. Founded in 1999, Salesforce has since grown into one of the largest U.S. companies by revenue. Among its many offerings, Salesforce gives healthcare providers the tools they need to create meaningful connections with their patients and handle case management with ease. The platform can also provide a collaborative environment for life sciences companies in areas such as medical devices or pharmaceuticals to accelerate innovation and provide insights into sales. Since joining Salesforce in January 2021, Anderson-Williams has been responsible for leading the pharma vertical and is focused on working with healthcare and life sciences organizations to drive innovation. Before that, she spent 15 years with Microsoft and almost 10 years at IBM in various leadership roles. While at IBM, Anderson-Williams was recognized with several key leadership awards, including IBM’s most admired Golden Circle and Global Golden Circle awards, given only to the top 5% of sales contributors in the company. She has also been featured in Forbes Magazine, Pharma Voice, and other media outlets. She received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in marketing from Texas Woman's University.

Sheena Wright

President & CEO

The United Way

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Sheena Wright is the President & CEO of United Way of New York City. The first woman to lead the organization in its more than 80 year history, Sheena’s determination, unwavering leadership, and ability to leverage UWNYC’s unique position at the intersection of government, corporate, and community has been her driving force for success. In her tenure at UWNYC, Sheena has led relief efforts during Hurricane Sandy and the COVID-19 pandemic, spearheaded ReadNYC, UWNYC’s flagship initiative that strengthens families and improves grade-level reading by third grade in our City’s most-challenged communities, and transformed the organization to launch the Campaign for Equity—an unprecedented commitment from UWNYC to address the underlying structural and systemic failures that lead to racial disparities in health, education, and financial stability. Sheena was named number one on City & State New York’s Nonprofit Power 100, listed in Crain’s New York Business’ Notable Black Leaders and Executives, was appointed Mayor De Blasio’s Education Sector Advisory Council and Governor Cuomo’s New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board.  Wright serves as a Trustee for Columbia University, and as a Board Member for New Visions for Public Schools, NYC Kids Rise, and the New York City Regional Economic Development Council.

Prior to joining UWNYC, Wright served as President and CEO of the Abyssinian Development Corporation. Sheena is a graduate of Columbia University and received her law degree from Columbia Law School. She was born and raised in the South Bronx and now lives in Harlem, with her 3 sons and daughter.

Annie Jean-Baptiste (She/Her)

Head, Product Inclusion

Google

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Annie Jean-Baptiste is the author of Building for Everyone, the first book about building inclusive products across the intersections of  12 dimensions of diversity. Annie is passionate about making the web work for underserved communities while ensuring that Google is a place where everyone shines for their differences. 

 

She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania (go Quakers!) with degrees in International Relations & Political Science. She is an avid Boston sports fan & loves to bring her dog Hercules to work. She is currently based in San Francisco.

 

She currently serves as an intrapreneur in residence at the University Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, a facilitator for Penn’s Chief Learning Officer Business Acumen program  and a member of both the CTA Health Equity and Access Leadership (HEAL) Coalition and sits on the IEEE's Executive committee, Ethically Aligned Design committee and co-chairs the DEI committee. She’s been inducted into the Haitian Roundtable’s  1804 society as “One to Watch” and inducted as one of the 30 Black Stars for Face to Face Africa in 2019. Annie is a former American Heart Association spokesperson and a One Young World ambassador, focused on healthy lifestyles in underserved communities. She is also a former Hack the Hood mentor. 

 

Annie is also the Head of Product Inclusion at Google. She leads Product Inclusion strategy across the company and consults with various Alphabet companies, including consultation, communications, scale and research and created the movement 3 years ago as a way to ensure underrepresented users felt validated throughout the product design process. She formerly created programs related to Diversity talent management and career development within several technical product areas within Google. 

 

She’s also been covered in Vogue, Essence Magazine, Business Insider, Teen Vogue, MSNBC, CNBC, ABC, Cheddar, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, the Root, the Council of Fashion Designers of America Annual Report, The Miami Times, Bustle,Boston Globe and Fortune Magazine. 

Dr Lauren Powell

Vice President, US Health Equity & Community Wellness, Takeda

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Recently named among Fortune's 40 Under 40 in Healthcare, Dr. Lauren Powell is the President & CEO of The Equitist, LLC and concurrently serves as the Vice President, US Health Equity & Community Wellness for Takeda Pharmaceuticals. In this role she spearheads efforts to drive health equity through Building trust, and investing in building generational community wellness in diverse under-resourced communities across the US. Formerly the Director of Health Equity for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Dr. Powell was the youngest Black woman and the first with a PhD to serve in this powerful role where she led statewide strategic plans and initiatives towards pushing Virginia’s 8.5 million residents closer to health equity. Dr. Powell has an established track record as a community-engaged, social epidemiologist with doctoral training on leveraging data for equity. She earned a Master in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical and Population Health Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Powell deeply values mentorship and community engagement. She actively seeks opportunities to help mold and encourage the next generation of leaders in health equity. Prior to her graduate school matriculation, she held positions coordinating clinical research studies at a number of prestigious medical institutions including: The Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health

Dr. Powell has been featured on several national and international news sources and outlets including: Marie Claire, Politico, The Guardian, Huffington Post, NPR, BBC, CNBC, PBS NewsHour, NowThis, Newsy, and Cheddar.