pocstock’s Future of Black America Top 50
Last year we launched the inaugural pocstock “Future of Black America Top 50” to recognize the accomplishments of fifty Black people making a difference in their industries and communities. This year’s honorees are innovators, advocates and activists, storytellers, and some of them are “firsts” in their fields. The common thread is their steadfast dedication to ensuring Black voices are seen, heard and represented.
This year’s list expands beyond the professionals we see and hear from every day. We introduce a newer crop of Black changemakers, whose values align with pocstock’s mission to amplify people of color, while providing products and services we need to be aware of.
As we enter the third year of the pandemic and all the uncertainties that surround it, pocstock aims to provide a platform for critical conversations on race, equity and inclusion. Help us celebrate and acknowledge these wonderful people further pushing the bounds of Black excellence and the emergence of voices that are now shouting more proudly than ever.
Ashley M. Fox — Founder & CEO at Empify. Ashley M. Fox is now an expert in her field as a Financial Education Specialist. After helping manage money for both millionaires and billionaires alike, she decided to follow her passion and quit her job to start her own company, Empify. Empify (merging of the words EMPower and modIFY), is a financial ed-tech start up created to show both adults and children how to effectively build wealth. Empify focuses on the creation of life-altering programs and takes Wall Street concepts and turns it into digestible content that financially empowers and educates adults and children via their WealthBuilders Community app. Since 2014, Empify has reached over 30,000 individuals globally, helped over 5,000 adults and children become first-time investors, and has been implemented in over 75 different schools, corporations, and organizations, helping underrepresented people across the world invest over $3 million.
Alvin Bowles — CEO for Grab Media & Vice President of Business Ecosystem Partnerships at Meta (formerly Facebook). Alvin Bowles, Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions & Partnerships, manages Meta’s strategic business partners leveraging technology and tools to maximize success metrics across the platform. As a part of the Global Leadership team, he is responsible for the worldwide network of global partners and developers leveraging scalable solutions for advertisers. Based in New York, reporting to the Chief Revenue Officer, he manages revenue impact and strategic insights for Meta. Prior to this, Bowles held numerous positions in media (Viacom, Time Warner & Sony) and was CEO of Grab Media which was acquired by Rhythm One, a publicly traded firm.
Bozoma Saint John — Chief Marketing Officer at Netflix. Bozoma has extensive experience in the C-Suite. Her work includes holding the CMO at Endeavor, and chief brand officer (CBO) at Uber until June 2018. Saint John was also a marketing executive at Apple Music until June 2017, after joining the company in its acquisition of Beats Music. From 2005 until 2014 she worked at PepsiCo, eventually serving as the head of music and entertainment marketing.
Andrew McCaskill — LinkedIn Career Expert & Culture + Economics Contributor at SiriusXM. Andrew is a culture analyst, inclusion champion and marketing executive. Before joining LinkedIn, he most recently led diversity & inclusion strategy for the global sales, marketing & public affairs function at Facebook and U.S. consumer marketing and global communications at Nielsen, where he was listed as “Top 40 Under 40 PR Executives,”. Andrew has given consumer and cultural analysis on Good Morning America, as well as in The New York Times, USA Today, Forbes, Fortune and AdWeek. The staunch consumer advocate also delivers African American-focused political, cultural and economic commentary as an on-air contributor to SiriusXM’s 38 million subscribers, is a marketing expert for BET’s digital series THE GLAM GAP and is an investor and culture consultant with two early stage tech startups.
Dara Treseder — SVP, Head of Global Marketing & Communications for Peloton. Dara Treseder is a business leader with expertise in building and leading high performing global marketing, communications, and commercial organizations. Dara is currently SVP, Head of Global Marketing & Communications at Peloton — the world’s largest interactive fitness platform. At Peloton, Dara sets the strategy and goals for Marketing to build the Peloton brand, market the product portfolio, and drive the company’s growth and international expansion.
Bakari Sellers — CNN Political Commentator. Bakari Sellers is a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, and 2014 Democratic Nominee for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. He is also the first vice chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. He is also currently a CNN Political Commentator. Bakari Sellers made history in 2006 when, at just 22 years old, he defeated a 26-year incumbent State Representative to become the youngest member of the South Carolina state legislature and the youngest African American elected official in the nation. He also served on President Barack Obama’s South Carolina steering committee during the 2008 election and was named to TIME Magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2010 as well as 2014 and 2015 “The Root 100” list of the nation’s most influential African-Americans.
Darla Price — President at DDB New York. As the first Black President for the NY office, she brings rich global experience that delivers business and culture- driving ideas for clients. Before her time with DDB, Darla was President and Executive Leader at McCann, Saatchi & Saatchi and Arnold, working with iconic brands such as Microsoft, McDonald’s, Olay, General Mills, and Lockheed Martin. In addition to her role at DDB NY, Darla is an Executive Coach and believes in maintaining empathy in business to build the future of leadership. She was an Adcolor Change Agent nominee in 2020, and is on a mission to change the face of the advertising industry to reflect the awesomely diverse world that we live in.
Billy Porter — Actor on Pose. Before embarking on a career as a mainstream pop vocalist, Billy Porter built a substantial reputation as a theatrical singer in Broadway productions such as Grease and Smokey Joe’s Cafe. He made his initial impact by placing ‘Love Is On The Way’ on the soundtrack to the film First Wives’ Club, in 1996. His debut album, Untitled, was firmly anchored in traditional R&B territory, with several key ballads included (such as a cover version of Glenn Jones’s ‘Show Me’) in an attempt to win over mainstream radio. His backing band featured several musicians better known for their work in the theatre, including Warren J. McCrae, Gary Haase and Peter Zizzo (his producer). Billy most recently portrayed Pray Tell in the series Pose. He has also won the following awards: TV Performance of the Year — Actor, Dorian Awards 2019, TV Musical Performance of the Year, Dorian Award 2019, Best Drama Actor, 2019 Gold Derby Awards, and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, 2019 Primetime Emmy Awards.
DeShuna Spencer — Founder & CEO of kweliTV. DeShuna Spencer is founder & CEO of kweliTV, which allows you to discover and celebrate black stories from around the world through curated independent films, documentaries, web series, kids programming, news, and events/live experiences. She is also a Halcyon Incubator Fellow, a Voqal Fellow and a Google NexGen Policy Leader.
Byron Allen — Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Entertainment Studios. Byron Allen acquired seven stations from Gray Television for $380 million in April 2021, giving his Allen Media Group/Entertainment Studios a total of 23 network affiliates across the U.S. His portfolio also includes 10 24-hour TV networks, including the Weather Channel, along with AVOD services Local Now and The Grio. In 1993, he launched Entertainment Studios and grew it into a media empire that has given him an estimated net worth of $450 million. Allen settled a $10 billion racial discrimination suit against Charter Communications in February 2021 then filed another against McDonald’s that May. Raised by a single mom, he began his career as a comedian at 14, made his debut on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” four years later in 1979 and became one of the hosts of NBC’s “Real People” the following year.
Ericka Riggs — Chief DE&I Officer of Omnicom Specialty Marketing Group. Ericka Riggs is a diversity executive, Board member, and thought leader with a varied and vibrant career. She is currently Chief Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer at Omnicom Specialty Marketing Group, a brand which focuses on consumer/retail marketing services w/integrated solution teams of the best talent to address clients’ needs. Ericka has displayed a history of enhancement in talent as she previously rose from Creative Coordinator to producer at UniWorld Group, (UWG). That record was further cemented by her work as the Foundation and Inclusion Director of The Advertising Club of New York, working alongside her team to cement the I’mPART Women’s Fellowship.
Chidiebere Ibe — Chief Medical Illustrator for The Journal of Global Neurosurgery. Chidiebere Ibe, BSc is the only Nigerian Medical Illustrator. He is the Creative Director at the Association of Future African Neurosurgeons (AFAN), Young Continental Association of African Neurosurgical Societies (YCAANS) and Creative Director and Chief Medical Illustrator of the Journal of Global Neurosurgery. He is also a Junior Committee Member-World Federation of Neurosurgeons — Global Neurosurgery. He has worked assiduously to promote the use of black skin medical illustration in medical textbooks and public health materials, this has afforded him the opportunity to be featured in WebMD/Medscape, Maryland Neurosurgery and Globalscalpels podcast and other reputable institutions globally.
Gia Peppers — Television Host, Vh1’s “Black Girl Beauty” / BET’s “Black Coffee” at Viacom. Gia is an award-winning on-air talent, entertainment journalist, content creator, and podcaster who is most known for her work as a contributor on NBC’s primetime morning show, “Today Show,” her nationally syndicated Urban One Radio show and podcast, “More Than That with Gia Peppers,” and as 1/5th of the wildly popular podcast, “Black Girl Pod.” Recently, the Washington DC native also launched an original interview series on her YouTube and IGTV channels titled, “Give You the Game,” where she leads inspiring conversations with impactful leaders like Debbie Allen, Erica Campbell, Sarah Jakes Roberts, and more.
Corey Smith — Head of Diversity & Inclusion, LVMH North America. Corey Smith is currently Head of Diversity & Inclusion at LVMH Inc. Prior to joining LVMH in September of 2020, Mr. Smith was Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Major League Baseball. With 20 years in D&I, Mr. Smith has worked in several industries including manufacturing, technology, education, consumer products, entertainment, media and sports. Mr. Smith’s overall D&I experience includes developing and implementing workforce and employee initiatives such as recruitment programs, learning & development programs, training & mentorship programs, executive rotational programs, Business Resource Groups as well as Supplier Diversity initiatives.
Heather Lowery — President & CEO at Femme It Foward. A strategist, creative visionary, power-negotiator and dealmaker, Heather Lowery is the President and CEO of Femme It Forward, the revolutionary multi-format music & entertainment company whose mission is to celebrate, educate and empower women. Femme It Forward, which Lowery launched during her time as Vice President of Talent and Touring at Live Nation Urban in 2019, has produced more than 20 concerts and panel sessions featuring performances by Cardi B, Jill Scott, Jorja Smith, and City Girls. Prior to this, Lowery was an integral part of the Live Nation Urban team. She was essential in bringing the world RapCaviar Live, in partnership with Spotify, bringing the likes of of Chance the Rapper, Migos, Cardi B, and Juice WRLD to their fans. She also launched Atlantic Records Presents, the first ever HBCU Tour where she booked several homecoming concerts for HBCUs and other colleges.
Daryl Mitchell — Diffrently-abled Actor and Lead Actor in NCIS New Orleans. Daryl first came to public attention as a member of the three-man rap group Groove B. The Hudlin Brothers, who directed one of the group’s videos, casted the group in the feature film “House Party” in 1990, where Mitchell had the opportunity to work alongside Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell. That opportunity would place Daryl in the position to act in “The Inside Man” opposite Denzel Washington, “10 Things I Hate About You”, “Galaxy Quest”, and “Lucky Numbers”. On television, Mitchell was a series regular on “The John Larroquette Show” and “Veronica’s Closet,” and appeared on the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, “Law and Order”, “The Cosby Show”, “Here and Now,” “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “I’m With Stupid.” In November 2001, Mitchell was sidelined by a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down; however, it never halted his forward momentum. Continuing his acting career in television he starred and produced the series “Brothers.”
Jotaka Eaddy — Founder and CEO of Full Circle Strategies, LLC & Tech Investor. Jotaka L. Eaddy is the founder and CEO of Full Circle Strategies, LLC — a social impact consulting firm committed to advancing transformative change and global impact. She is also the Co-Host of the award winning OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network Television series — Speak Sis!. Jotaka has led regulatory, legislative, and social impact initiatives at the federal and state level for leading nonprofits and within the C-Suite of leading technology companies. In 2020 she founded the movement #WinWithBlackWomen, a diverse and intersectional group of Black women leaders, which has garnered more than 600 million impressions on social media. Jotaka serves as a board advisor to several tech start-up companies including Maker’s Row, Inc. and Gauge, Inc. From 2009–2014, Eaddy served as Senior Advisor to the President and CEO and Senior Director for Voting Rights for the NAACP.
Detavio Samuels — CEO at Revolt Media & TV. Detavio sits at the intersection of culture, content & branding and is one of corporate America’s youngest chief executive officers. Detavio has helped some of the world’s biggest corporations (including Target, McDonalds, AT&T, Pepsi, NBA and Johnson & Johnson) build their business and drive cultural impact. At REVOLT, Detavio oversees all aspects of the business and is focused on positioning Hip Hop to dominate the video space and transform the global media landscape. Detavio has been recognized for his work with awards such as: Cablefax Top 100: Content Leader (2021), New Media Influencer (Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association, 2020), Trailblazer in Media (100 Black Men-NY, 2019), 40 Under 40 (The Network Journal, 2018), and Best Selling Author (Amazon, 2013).
Karen Attiah — Columnist at The Washington Post. Karen Attiah is a columnist for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2014 as a digital producer in the Opinions section. Attiah often writes on issues relating to race, gender and international politics, with a special interest in Africa. Previously, she reported as a freelancer for the Associated Press while based in the Caribbean. Attiah was the winner of the 2019 George Polk Award and was the 2019 Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists.
Dylan Davis — LGBTQIA+ Black Beauty Creator & Influencer. Dylan Davis is a newly full-time beauty creator that has grasped the attention of social media. After Fenty Beauty reposted one of his stunning photos to its feed in order to highlight Black creators, Davis says his life changed forever. His talent is something worth celebrating. Though his first involved look was posted to Instagram in the summer of 2020, Davis grew up watching YouTube makeup tutorials and learning techniques from industry pioneers like Jackie Aina, Alissa Ashley, Makeupshayla, and PatrickStarrr, to name just a few. Davis has chosen to tell a lot of different stories through his work, but one of the most fulfilling to the young creator has been challenging the monolithic idea of what Black men are supposed to do and be.
Lisa Hurley, M.A — Activist, Editor-At-Large at Linked Inclusion, & Co-Host of The Introvert Sisters Podcast. Lisa Hurley is an activist and writer whose work focuses on anti-racism, and on ending discrimination against Black hair textures. She is also a passionate advocate for inclusion, equity, and gender equality, as well as for destigmatizing introversion. Lisa has been quoted in Forbes and Fast Company, and holds a Master’s in Music Business from New York University. A word nerd with more than 20 years’ experience as a copywriter, Lisa also writes on her HappyHappyPhoenix.com blog, covering everything from racism and reiki, to beauty, culture, and fashion. In addition, Lisa serves her audiences through The Introvert Sisters podcast.
Engel Burns — Sr. Director Government Affairs at Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc. Engel Burns has been able to parlay his years of experience in politics, marketing, and health care into a successful career as a Washington lobbyist. As the Sr. Director Government Affairs at Aurinia, Engel Burns is in charge of leading the company’s legislative initiatives. In his role, Engel Burns aids in advancing legislation to further research in the treatment of respiratory conditions, nephrology, central nervous system disorders and health disparities. Engel D. Burns works with health care corporations and government organizations in order to make a difference in his community. He has spent the last 15 years in the fields of healthcare and marketing, and his career in politics has spanned nearly two decades. According to Engel Burns, being a successful lobbyist requires personality as well as skills of persuasion; something he has learned working his way up from clinical laboratory assistant and teacher to entrepreneur and lobbyist.
Mara Schiavocampo — Emmy-Award winning journalist and Podcast Host. A four-time Emmy Award winning journalist, Mara Schiavocampo is a frequent guest on CNN and has also appeared on Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, The Today Show, The View, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Chew, and more. Mara is also a best-selling author, wellness enthusiast, sought-after public speaker, executive producer and host of the popular “The Trend Reporter” and “Run Tell This” podcasts.
Iddris Sandu — Founder of Spatial Labs & Digital Architect. 23-year-old Iddris Sandu was born in Accra, Ghana, before moving to Harbor City, Los Angeles. A digital architect and futurist, Sandu has also collaborated with titans in the hip hop world, namely the late Nipsey Hussle and Kanye West. In 2017, Sandu and Nipsey Hussle opened the Marathon store in Crenshaw, LA, the world’s first “smart store” in which visitors could unlock augmented reality experiences and access exclusives by interacting with objects in the store. Sandu worked on a top-secret project called Yeezy Sense after introducing Kanye to quantum computing, spatial mapping, and how these technologies can inform his art. Currently, he’s a design and tech consultant for West’s brand, and recently joined adidas’ mission to help #EndPlasticWaste.
Michaela Jaé “MJ” Rodriguez — Actress and Singer, “Pose”. Mj Rodriguez is an actress, best known for her work in Nurse Jackie (2011), Carrie Diaries (2013), Dear Pauline (2014), new internet series [Blank] My Life (2016) and Netflix show Luke Cage (2016). She is also known for her Musical Theater credit as Angel Dumont Schunard in the Original Off-Broadway Revival of Rent in 2011. For her role in “Pose” Mj became the first trans woman to be nominated for an Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and, in 2022, became the first black transgender woman in history to win a Golden Globe.
Jamal Hill — Director at Philavision Pictures. Raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jamal Hill was fascinated with all of the arts particularly music and movies. After years of studying and honing his craft, Jamal and his mother produced a $10,000 independent film entitled “Money Power Respect” from a 75 page script he wrote, ultimately winning the Underground Film Festival. Soon after its release a Will Smith associate, Charlie Mack Alston would have Jamal work on films such as “I Am Legend”, “Hancock”, “Iron Man”. After a meeting with legendary talent manager Troy Carter, Hill directed Lady Gaga’s “The Fame” short concert movie entitled “Candy Warhol”. In 2010, Hill directed a music based feature film entitled “Streets” starring hip hop star Meek Mill. As a result he landed a deal with Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment to write and direct a slate of films, including “Brotherly Love” his first theatrically released film that was nominated for an NAACP IMAGE AWARD for Outstanding Independent Motion Picture.
Nikole Hannah-Jones — Pulitzer Prize-winning Reporter and Investigative Journalist for The New York Times. Nikole Hannah-Jones is a domestic correspondent for The New York Times Magazine focusing on racial injustice. In 2020, she won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary for her essay in The 1619 Project, which traces the central role black Americans have played in the nation, including its vast material success and democracy itself. Her extensive reporting in both print and radio on the ways segregation in housing and schools is maintained through official action and policy has earned the National Magazine Award, a Peabody and a Polk Award.
Jeymes Samuel — Writer, Director, Singer-Songwriter & Music Producer. Jeymes Samuel, also known as The Bullitts, is a writer, director, singer-songwriter and music producer. In 2013 Jeymes worked alongside Baz Luhrmann and Jay Z on the music for the blockbuster The Great Gatsby. Jeymes served as the film’s Executive Music Consultant. 2013 also saw Jeymes debut his directorial effort, They Die by Dawn, at SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. The film is a western based on real life characters and takes place in the town of Langston, Oklahoma in 1890. Jeymes wrote and directed They Die by Dawn which coincided with The Bullitts’ debut album ‘They Die By Dawn & Other Short Stories’.
Nyree Wright — Senior Vice President Public Relations at TV ONE. Nyree Wright was recently appointed as TV One Network’s Public Relations’ SVP. She holds the role of working to expand and strengthen the Black narrative as one of the network’s executive leaders. Beyond the strong social scope, Nyree is an expert in corporate and crisis communications, program publicity, media/talent relations, digital media and viewer services. Some of her other professional astounding roles include Executive Vice President/Senior Consultant of Reputation Management at Porter Novelli (Omnicom), Senior Vice President at MSLGROUP (Publicis), and Vice president at Weber McGinn (IPG)/The McGinn Group.
Joseph Anthony — Founder & CEO of Hero Collective. Joseph Anthony is a brand strategist, marketing expert, and entrepreneur. Anthony, as a graduate of Boston University and newly employed at The New York Times, was asked to give an impromptu presentation on youth marketing trends to J. Walter Thompson executives and was offered a monthly retainer on the spot. Anthony, as an consultant for JWT would land several other prominent accounts including; Tommy Hilfiger, DC Comics, Coca Cola, Steve Madden and Nike. In the winter of 2000, Anthony launched a full service marketing agency, VITAL Marketing, specializing in helping brands target young consumers. Since launching VITAL Marketing, Anthony has been personally responsible for generating over 150 Million dollars in revenue. Recently, Anthony launched his new agency and media concept, Hero Group, a full service Millennial marketing and new media company, specializing in creative, digital and brand strategy.
Polly Irungu — Founder of Black Women Photographers. Multimedia journalist, digital editor, and self-taught photographer Polly Irungu is the founder of Black Women Photographers, a global community and online database of Black women and non-binary photographers. Polly is also a Digital Content Editor at New York Public Radio (WYNC), where she is responsible for managing social media for WNYC and PRX’s ‘The Takeaway’, a national NPR show with over 2 million listeners, pitching news stories and features for The Takeaway and her podcast is ranked the 4th most downloaded, amongst others. As a photographer, Polly’s work has been published in numerous publications, including Global Citizen, NPR, BBC News, The Luupe, MEFeater, Refinery29, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, CNN, HuffPost, OkayPlayer, and OkayAfrica.
Kerel Cooper — CMO & SVP at LiveIntent. Kerel is the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at LiveIntent. He currently leads the marketing team and works closely with sales, product, engineering and customer success to create awareness and generate leads for key products and features. Kerel has 20 years of digital media experience building and leading Advertising Operations, Account Management, Partnerships & Product Marketing teams. Prior to LiveIntent, Kerel Cooper held positions at Advance Digital as the Senior Director Ad Platform Strategies and JupiterMedia as Director of Advertising Operations. Kerel is also the co-founder and co-host of Minority Report Podcast which highlights people of color, diverse backgrounds, women & LGBTQ community within advertising and marketing.
Rachel Cargle — Author, Philanthropic Innovator, & Founder/President of The Loveland Foundation, Inc. Rachel Cargle is an Akron, Ohio born, NY-based public academic, writer and philanthropic innovator. Her upcoming book with Penguin Random House centers the reimagining of womanhood, solidarity and self and how we are in relationship with ourselves and one another. Rachel is the Founder and President of The Loveland Foundation, Inc., her non-profit offering free therapy to Black women, girls and gender expansive individuals.
King Randall — Founder of The X School for Boys. King Randall is a 21- year-old community shifter and the founder of the “X” for Boys organization in Albany, Georgia. where the motto is, “Let US Make Man”. He hosts a variety of workshops from teaching young men automotive repair, to home improvement skills, and even how to paint. King Randall is also a chef. He graduated at the age of 17 with a degree in Culinary Arts from Albany Technical College before even graduating high school. He was also the first black, Georgia Restaurant Association Student of the Year in 2016. He hosts a weekly book club for boys to improve literacy skills and also to teach very important life skills growing into a young man. King Randall has started a bowling league for boys to get them into sports other than more traditional sports with the hopes of creating scholarship opportunities and outlets for them to release stress.
Rachel Noerdlinger — Partner, Actum. Rachel Noerdlinger is an award-winning communications strategist with a penchant for media activism. She is a nationally esteemed expert that understands the value of third-party coalition-building and prescient issues related to diversity, inclusion and strengthening relationships for corporations working in communities of color. In January 2022, she became equity partner at Actum, a non-partisan strategy consulting firm.
Kofi Amoo-Gottfried — DoorDash’s First CMO. Kofi is the previous VP of Marketing at Doordash and holds the newly appointed role of CMO. Prior to Doordash, Kofi was VP of Brand & Consumer Marketing at Facebook. Before Facebook, Kofi was Chief Strategy Officer at FCB New York. He joined FCB from Bacardi Global Brands, where he was the Global Communications Director for the Rum category and the architect for the reinvention of the Bacardi brand. As the Founder and Managing Director of Publicis West Africa, Kofi created and launched the first majority-owned network agency on the African continent. In 2020, Kofi was named to Business Insider’s list of “25 CMO’s To Watch’’ and honored with AdWeek’s “Brand Genius” award. Kofi is also an ardent supporter of pocstock and is currently an investor.
Robin Dillard — Publisher at BEQ Pride/Business Equality Network. Robin Dillard is the Business Equality Advocate, creator of the Business Equality Network and founding publisher of BEQ Pride magazine and BusinessEqualityMagazine.com. As publisher of BEQ, Robin leveraged skills honed over 20 years as a civil servant, management consultant, recruiter, scholar and inventor. Robin has a deep understanding of how the government works with particular expertise in public policy and agency operations. She also has extensive experience on large-scale public sector business and technology transformation projects spanning many policy, agency, technology and management domains and has recently expanded into executive recruiting and client talent advocacy.
Louis Carr — President of Media Sales at BET Networks. Louis Carr has been with BET Networks for 35 years, serving as the President of Media Sales for the last 19 years. During his tenure with the company, Carr has transformed the multicultural space for some of the world’s biggest brands. Through strategic partnerships with corporations like Procter & Gamble, Unilever, McDonald’s, General Motors, Facebook, Apple, and many more, he has been a guide and a consultant on opportunities that exist within black and brown communities. Carr founded the Louis Carr Internship Foundation (LCIF) 17 years ago to help improve diversity in corporate America through paid internships. The foundation has provided 178 paid internships, in which 45 alumni now have full-time jobs within the industry. He has also created The Blueprint Men’s Summit, which brings together some of Black America’s high profile thought leaders to educate Black men in the areas of Finance, Health, Careers, Relationships, and Entrepreneurship.
Suzanne E. Miles-Gustave — Executive Deputy Commissioner, New York State Office of Children and Family Services. Suzanne E. Miles-Gustave, Esq is an accomplished attorney with over 15 years of legal experience. Suzanne is currently the Executive Deputy Commissioner at New York State Office of Children and Family Services. At OCFS, Miles-Gustave helps lead the state’s oversight of all child welfare, child care and juvenile justice services in furtherance of the state’s goals of promoting the safety, permanency and well-being of all children, families and communities. She previously held the role of Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel for seven years and prior to joining the State Office of Children and Family Services, she was Senior Associate Counsel/Director — Office of Federal and State Regulatory Compliance and Senior Director, Strategy / Office of the Chief Operating Officer for the NYC Department of Education.
Pernell Cezar, Jr. — Co-Founder & CEO of BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages. Pernell Cezar Jr. is co-founder and CEO of BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages, known for coffee and tea manufacturing that pledges 5% of its profits to programs for youth to develop professionally and fight youth homelessness. BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages is the first black-owned, nationally distributed coffee brand, and it’s headquartered in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Cezar Jr. ‘s background in retail merchandising and packaged goods led him to work for Target, where he was responsible for soap inventory before moving into partnerships and negotiations. He realized his passion was helping emerging brands get their foot in the door and worked with Sundial brands’ SheaMoisture to help bring their products to the masses.
Thembisa Mshaka — Award-Winning Creative, Editorial Director, Filmmaker & Author. Celebrating 25 years of changing the game in media, advertising marketing, and entertainment, Thembisa is a contributor to Huffington Post & Okayplayer.com. She is also a 5-Time Promax BDA, 5-Time Telly, 6-Time NAMIC EMMA, and EMMY Award winner. Celebrating 7 Society of Voice Arts Awards nominations for excellence in voice over, Thembisa has voiced for everything from IAMS, Atomic Blonde and Stop & Shop to SunTrust and the WNBA. Creative and physical production for film & television is her specialty and her passion has been spearheading the women’s careers in entertainment with the following career guide: Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business. Beyond music and media, Thembisa is an Inspirational Speaker, Moderator, Advisory Board Member, The Universal Hip Hop Museum, and is procuring financing for the next Mshaka Media feature release.
Rahman Ali Bugg — Executive Producer and Partner, Red Summer TV. Award-winning executive producer and director Rahman remains a student navigating leadership and responsibility within content creation’s ever-evolving dynamic landscape. As a media professional/entertainment professional for over 25 years, Bugg has produced, directed, developed, and supported countless hours of unscripted content across varied networks and platforms including MTV, A&E, Vice, BET, Roc Nation, Discovery, YouTube, Amazon, and others. His company, Red Summer TV, is a full-service, collaborative-minded, production company, specializing in unscripted television and digital programming specifically as it relates to Urban Black Culture, Music Programming and Social Justice-centered content.
Tiffany Warren — Executive VP, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Sony Music Group. In this newly created role, Tiffany will expand equity and inclusion activities and policies across of all Sony Music Group’s (SMG) global recorded music, publishing and corporate divisions. Tiffany previously held the role of Senior VP, Chief Diversity Officer for Omnicom Group, leading the strategy that supported Omnicom’s vision to be a world class, benchmark company for sustainable diversity and inclusion. She oversaw a team focused on Omnicom-wide change efforts for the advancement and retention of top performing talent inclusive of women, people of color and LGBT professionals in an inclusive work culture. In 2005, she founded ADCOLOR, which has launched the ADCOLOR Conference, Awards and FUTURES program.
Seni Tienabeso — Executive Producer at ABC News. Seni Tienabeso is an award-winning Executive Producer for ABC News Live in charge of Primetime coverage including ABC News Prime; also produces network and streaming special event coverage and specials for Hulu. Formerly a Senior Producer for World News Tonight with David Muir, Seni has produced on scene globally for much of the major stories of the last 15 years.
Tressa Azarel Smallwood — Content Creator , Writer, Movie Producer, Book Publisher, & Business Consultant. With a social media following of 75,000 across all platforms, Tressa Azarel is an award-winning Book Publisher, Movie Producer and Entrepreneurial Coach. She has published numerous books resulting in over 162 published titles some of which are now being adapted to film and TV series on BET, TV ONE , Urban Movie Channel & more. Expanding into the film industry with MegaMind Media, her award-winning film company, she produced the 2019 American Black Film Festival & BET award winning film, “ALL IN”.
Soladé Rowe — Partner, Retained Executive Search & Diversity Practice Leader at Jobplex, a DHR International. Soladé Rowe is a seasoned talent management, development and diversity professional, with Fortune 500 experience in the international banking, pharmaceutical, consulting and retail industries. A change agent with cross-functional human resources experience in: Succession Planning, Talent Acquisition, Campus Recruiting, Workforce Planning, Performance Management, Employee Relations, International Recruitment, Executive Coaching, Diversity & Inclusion.
Vanessa K. De Luca — Editor in Chief at The Root. Vanessa K. De Luca currently serves as Editor In Chief of The Root. This digital-first publication centers the stories of the Black community, from politics and social justice to culture, commentary and personal essays. Most recently she served as the Editor-in-Chief of ZORA magazine and helmed ESSENCE magazine. In these roles she oversaw the editorial vision and content creation across all platforms, including the magazine, digital, social, video and live experiences. In addition, she developed editorial concepts for new initiatives including video series and TV partnerships, e-learning platforms, e-commerce and licensing, podcasts and special events. An award-winning journalist and co-author of the bestselling beauty and empowerment book, Tyra Banks Beauty Inside & Out, she has been a featured guest on several national television networks, including NBC’s TODAY Show; CBS This Morning; MSNBC’s Morning Joe, AM JOY and PoliticsNation; CNN and more.
Tony Effik — Managing Director at Google, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University & Founder at Black and Brilliant Advocacy Network. Tony Effik is an accomplished global executive with decades of experience operating at the intersection of advertising, media, and digital technology, with a track record of building high performance teams around the world. Faculty at Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, as Adjunct Assistant Professor. He is passionate about the advocacy for diversity and inclusion. Black & Brilliant is “an advocacy group — for people of all backgrounds — united in creating a more diverse workforce.”
Vita Harris — Chief Strategy Officer at FCB Global. Vita M. Harris is a dynamic industry leader. Throughout her career spanning 30+ years, she has developed innovative techniques and tools, resulting in transformative strategies, high-ROI campaigns and award-winning work. Vita is staunchly committed to advancing diversity-and-inclusion efforts. With her leadership, FCB has continued to build on its legacy of commitment to equality and inclusion and deliver strategic excellence across its global offices. Harris has also been instrumental in evolving FCB’s DE&I framework and led the introduction of the network’s Disrupting Thought Patterns workshops, while also helping lead the expansion of cultural competency and workplace inclusion initiatives to all its offices.
Tyler Perry — Director, Actor, Producer and Writer. Tyler Perry is best known for his “Madea” franchise, which has grossed more than $660 million. Perry started out in live theater in the 1990s and became extremely popular before transitioning to film and television in the 2000s. Perry’s wealth comes both from his cut as a producer and from a library dating back to the early 1990s: he owns 100% of the content he’s created. In 2019, he opened Tyler Perry Studios, a 330-acre property in Atlanta with 12 sound stages and custom sets that include a to-scale White House. After seven years creating content for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, Perry struck a similar deal with Viacom in 2019, getting 25% of streaming service BET+.