Business Development Strategist, T Brand Studio, The New York Times
Bio: As a Business Development Strategist for The New York Times's T Brand Studio, Adrian J. Hopkins is responsible for growing the client base. Prior to The New York Times, Adrian led strategy and business development initiatives at Viacom and Bureau Blank. He is also a widely published writer who has been featured in The Daily Muse, Time, Newsweek, USA Today, Forbes, Mashable, and Medium.
Originally from Richmond, VA Adrian earned a B.A in History from Yale and an M.A. in Media Studies from The New School.
Vice President External Relations, Venture for America
Bio: Antonia Dean is the Vice President of External Relations at Venture for America, a two-year startup fellowship for recent college graduates. Prior to joining the startup world, Antonia was a brand and marketing strategist in the cosmetics industry, having worked on and created new brands for Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, and Michael Kors, to name a few. Antonia received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Florida A&M University and her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. Antonia lives in Harlem where she enjoys trying the neighborhood's newest restaurants and testing out the playgrounds with her toddler son, husband, and 5 pound Yorkshire Terrier, Furious Styles.
Managing Editor, BroadwayBlack.com
Bio: April Reign practiced law for twenty years, honing her talent for public speaking and persuasive writing, but it wasn't until she walked away from her legal practice that she found her true passion. Now, as Managing Editor of Broadway Black, Reign is able to capitalize on her strengths and pursue her calling, using her voice to spark dialogue and explore issues of race, politics and culture. As the Creator of the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, April Reign challenges the lack of representation of marginalized communities in Hollywood and beyond. Reign sustains a movement that has resulted in the most systemic change ever seen in the over 80-year history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. April Reign owned her opportunity, the results of which are reverberating throughout the entertainment industry. Reign is an influential and sought-after digital media presence, having built an organic following of over 55,000 worldwide. April Reign now travels the country speaking at academic institutions and consulting with organizations regarding issues of diversity and inclusion.
Program Coordinator , Columbia University Legal Services
Bio: Arziki Adamu is from Yonkers, New York, and graduated from Yale with a degree in Psychology in 2013. She was one of three Emerging Trailblazer Award recipients from the Yale Black Men’s Union in 2013, along with the Yale Buck-Jackson Public Speaking competition first prize winner, and the Ogilvie Robinson-DeChabert Oratorical Competition first prize winner. As President of the Yale NAACP she organized townhall meetings with local leaders regarding issues such as stop-and- frisk and racial profiling, planned the Great Debate between Morehouse and Yale College, and helped coordinate a march on City Hall in New Haven after the George Zimmerman acquittal. She currently works as a paralegal with Morningside Heights Legal Services Inc. at Columbia University, while community organizing civil actions to disrupt the Donald Trump administration. She will begin law school in the fall, and plans to become a civil rights lawyer focusing on racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.
Blogger, A Lot On My Mind Blog
Bio: I’m the Black guy with the beard and thrifted clothes. I’m the reserved guy who doesn’t say much, but it is always thinking. I’m the gay that occasionally enjoys a Sunday morning service. I’m the friend that has your back in every way. I’m the writer who writes the things you’re probably thinking, but in a much more hostile fashion. I’m the entrepreneur that’s always hustling. All in all, I’m a pure soul just trying to figure out life. The written discourse has always been my favored form of communication; transparency is my tone of choice. Many people use the internet has a space to present their highest self, but I elect to be sincere in my delivery and in content in hopes of connecting, healing, and entertaining those that choose to read. Collaborating, supporting, and uplifting each other is imperative in our current climate.
Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Dartmouth College
Bio: Brandy Monk-Payton is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth College. She obtained her Ph.D. in Modern Culture and Media at Brown University where she was a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow and a Graduate Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America. She received a B.A. in Film and Media Studies from Swarthmore College and a M.A. in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University. She has previous experience working in television news production and non-profit media education in New York City. She has published on the topic of race and representation in journals The Black Scholar and Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, as well as the edited collection, From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry. Her article, “#LaughingWhileBlack: Gender and the Comedy of Social Media Blackness” is forthcoming from the journal, Feminist Media Histories. She is currently working on her first book project Dark Optics: Blackness, Exposure, and Celebrity in Media Culture. In Fall 2017, she will begin a position as Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University.
Co-Founder, Before Anyone Else (BAE Dating App)
Bio: At the age of 25, Brian became the Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Bae :: Before Anyone Else. He led the company in becoming one of the fastest growing social/dating platforms in the world. The award winning business has peaked as a top application in US, and top 50 Lifestyle app in 20 African/Caribbean countries. His team was acquired by Tagged, one of the largest dating platforms in the world in 2016. Brian currently leads marketing at Tagged's parent company, if(we) in San Francisco.
Brian’s recent accolades include 2016 BET Black History Maker, 2015 Black Enterprise BE Modern Man and a 2015 TechStars Rising Star. He has appeared in publications such as TIME, TechCrunch, Inc. Mag, Fortune and Fast Co. Brian has spoken at F8 (Facebook’s annual conference), The United Nations, and Google. He received a BA with Distinction and Honors from The University of Virginia. Currently, Brian can be seen on National Geographic’s TV show, “Original Sin” airing weekdays.
Associate, Goldman Sachs
Bio: Chauncey Nartey is an Associate at Goldman Sachs, where he currently works to drive diversity strategy for the Americas. Immediately prior to his role at Goldman, Chauncey served as the Director of Talent at ROADS Charter High School, a network of high schools on a mission to prove what’s possible for the young people most consistently failed by our educational institutions. During this time, Chauncey also founded the Association of Black & Latino Educators (A.B.L.E.).
Chauncey began his career as a Teach for America corps member in Philadelphia, teaching US and global history at the middle and high school levels. He subsequently served as a Campus Director for Citizen Schools, an innovative extended learning program for low-income middle school students throughout the country, and also worked as a Program Manager at the NYC Department of Education, where he led the district-wide initiative to create a pipeline of teachers uniquely prepared to thrive in middle school settings. Chauncey holds a BA in Political Science and Public Policy from Duke University, and a MA in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Co-founder, Editor in Chief , VerySmartBrothas
Bio: Damon Young is writer, critic, humorist, satirist, and professional Black person. He's a co-founder and editor in chief of VerySmartBrothas, a columnist for GQ Magazine, a contributing editor and columnist for EBONY Magazine, and a founding editor of 1839. The Pittsburgh-native is also the author of a collection of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins).
Associate Product Manager, Jet.com
Bio: Folashade Ade-Banjo is currently an Associate Product Manager at Jet.com focusing on research and analytics for the Platform Product Team. She graduated from Bates College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a minor in Applied Mathematics and is also an alumni/member of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), The T. Howard Foundation, the Harvard Business School SVMP Program, and a former attendee of the Yale Black Solidarity Conference. Born and raised in Orlando, Florida but of Nigerian-American descent, she’s passionate about promoting inclusivity within Jet, the tech sphere and across broader communities.
Co-founder , The Reign XY
Bio: The Reign XY is an online publication targeted towards providing an outlet for fellowship and upliftment amongst millennial women of color. Hailing from the Midwest to takeover the Ivy League, Toi & Gabby share their final experiences of college and the transition into the professional realm. An informal guide to being Generation Y, X-Chromosomes, The Reign XY is meant for the tenacious, ambitious, and non-conforming woman. The blog is an insightful look into the triumphs of two college friends-- and the tribulations that lead to those triumphs. The Reign XY seeks to connect and inspire Queens with similar journeys and ideals through media, scholastics, health & beauty.
Columnist , MTV News
Bio: Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib is a poet, writer, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first book of poems, The Crown Ain't Worth Much was released to critical and commercial acclaim in 2016 by Button Poetry. Additionally, he is a Callaloo Creative Writing Fellow, and a writer for MTV News, where he writes about the intersections of music, culture, and identity. Hanif's book, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, has been one of the year's best-selling poetry books, he wrote the 2016 VMA awards, and has been published in the New York Times, ESPN the Magazine, and The Nation for cultural essays.
Special Projects Editor , The Ringer
Bio: Hannah Giorgis is first and foremost the daughter of two Ethiopian immigrants. She is currently the Special Projects Editor at The Ringer, and her work has appeared in publications including the New Yorker, Guardian, FADER, Pitchfork, Okayafrica, and BuzzFeed, where she was most recently a staff writer on the culture desk. Her work most often addresses the intersections of race, gender, immigration, and (pop) culture through a black feminist lens. Hannah graduated from Dartmouth College in 2013 with a BA in English modified with African and African American Studies and now lives in Brooklyn.
Video Blogger , YouTube
Bio: Jackie Aina is a US Army Veteran, makeup artist, and beauty vlogger based in Los Angeles, California. From a very young age, it was her dream to pursue fashion. In 2009, while still serving in the army, Jackie launched her YouTube channel. It was the desire to show the full spectrum of beauty for women of all colors that inspired her to start creating videos. Due to the impact of her channel, this year, Jackie has been selected as a Change Ambassador by the United Nations SDG Action Campaign and YouTube. Jackie is among the first group of female YouTube creators to join the SDG Action Campaign in their efforts to achieve gender equality. 7 years, 770,000 subscribers, and over 48 million video views later, Jackie is still sharing beauty tips and inspiring women around the world to be bold, be beautiful, and always be confident in their skin!
Founder, Black Girl Nerds
Bio: In February 2012 Jamie decided to launch the blog Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has written for Madame Noire and The Mary Sue. In 2014, Jamie was accredited by MSNBC The Grio.com’s Top 100 list for being an online community builder in the tech space and innovator for Black women to feel comfortable with embracing their nerdiness. In the September 2014 issue of Marie Claire magazine, Jamie was recognized by TV powerhouse Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow on Twitter. Most recently, Jamie completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to create Universal Fan Con, a multi-fandom Con dedicated to inclusion highlighting women, LGBTQ, PoC & the Disabled. Universal Fan Con will debut April 27-29, 2018. She is a managing partner with the company The Black Geeks. And on Feb. 1, 2017, she launched the podcast Misty Knight’s Uninformed Afro Podcast as executive producer and co-hosts along with podcaster Stephanie Williams.
Actor in Insecure , HBO
Bio: Jay Ellis is a television and film actor, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. Born in Sumter, South Carolina and a self-proclaimed “Air Force brat,” Ellis settled with his family in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, and was elected student body President. He volunteered with AmeriCorps, and completed a successful internship with the Portland Trailblazers before ultimately deciding to follow his childhood dream of becoming an actor. In 2007, Ellis made the move to Los Angeles to pursue his passion for acting before landing his first role as Bryce “Blue” Westbrook on the hit BET series THE GAME, which ran for 147 episodes. Over the years Ellis has been featured on critically acclaimed series MASTERS OF SEX, GRACE AND FRANKIE, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, GREY’S ANATOMY and NCIS. In 2016. Ellis served as the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Spokesman. A project of the Community Capacity Building Coalition (CCBC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whose mission is to provide capacity building assistance to community-based organizations and stakeholders involved in HIV/AIDS prevention. In December of 2016, Ellis was requested by the Obama’s administration to speak and moderate a panel at the White House for the final My Brother’s Keeper summit, an initiative created by President Barak Obama to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.
Ellis is also an active volunteer at Inside Out Writers, an organization that teaches creative writing classes in Los Angeles County Juvenile Detention Centers. As actor and producer his most recent film production “Like Cotton Twines” was selected to premiere at the L.A. Film Festival in 2016. Jay loves to surf and hike and is quickly becoming an avid photographer through his passion and love of traveling abroad. He lives in Los Angeles, CA and can currently be seen on the new HBO comedy series INSECURE.
Bio: Liza Landsman is responsible for driving growth for Jet.com through marketing, advertising, smart use of data and ensuring Jet’s end-to-end customer experience is compelling. Prior to joining Jet, she was CMO and a member of the Executive Committee at E*TRADE Financial, Global Head of Digital at BlackRock, and spent a decade in senior management positions at Citigroup and IBM. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. from Cornell University, and is on the Board of Directors of Choice Hotels International (CHH) and the GO! Project in New York City.
Founder, Thurst App
Bio: Morgen Bromell is an entrepreneur, writer, artist, and founder of Thurst, a dating app for queer people of all genders. Morgen is also a tech activist and advocate for the queer and trans community, dedicating their time to independent projects and programming aimed at queer youth of color.
Founder, Cocoa Swatches
Bio: Fueled by a Nigerian heritage simultaneously intertwined with her experience as a black woman in America, Ofunne aims to use her expertise in the field of communications to promote and uplift the images of black women in the media through fashion and beauty.
After constantly searching for resources that catered to makeup enthusiasts with varying skin tones (and a number of makeup purchase nightmares), Ofunne created Cocoa Swatches, a Instagram platform showcasing the latest makeup products on various complexions. Upon completing her Masters of Communications at Columbia University, she decided to turn Cocoa Swatches into a full fledged brand.
Bio: A dedicated activist working at the intersection of racial justice and immigrant rights for more than a decade, Opal Tometi was incensed by the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin—and inspired to take action. Starting the Twitter hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, Tometi (with Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors), prompted activism nationwide and introduced the banner under which this generation’s civil rights movement marches.
An established immigration rights advocate and community organizer, Tometi’s passionate interest stems from experience as the child of Nigerian immigrants. Recognized as a rising leader in the movement, she was named a “New Civil Rights Leader” by the Los Angeles Times for her work building movements that bridge immigrant and human rights initiatives to the ever-growing black liberation movement. Tometi and her fellow Black Lives Matter co-founders were honored with inclusion on 2015’s The Root’s Top 100 List for the movement’s social and political impact. In 2016, in recognition of their contributions to human rights, the Black Lives Matter co-founders received BET’s Black Girls Rock Community Change Agent Award, and were recognized among the world’s 50 greatest leaders by Fortune and POLITICO magazines.
As the Executive Director at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Tometi is at the helm of the country’s leading black organization for immigrant rights, steering initiatives including the first Congressional briefing on black immigrants. She has also presented at the United Nations and has participated with the UN’s Global Forum on Migration and Commission on the Status of Women.
Tometi reveals raw insights into the adversity inflicted by social injustice, anti-black bias and uninformed views on immigration, educating and inspiring audiences to organize and stand together to transform society into a world where the lives and contributions of all individuals are recognized equally.
MFA Candidate, Yale University School of Art
Bio: Shikeith is an MFA candidate (2018) in the sculpture department of Yale School Of Art. As a young man in Philadelphia, Shikeith was ostracized by his peers who challenged the authenticity of his black masculinity. His work mines the psycho-emotional landscape at the intersection of blackness and masculinity. He holds a B.A (2010) from The Pennsylvania State University, where he received The Leslie P. Greenhill scholarship for Photography, among other awards. In 2014 and again in 2016 he was awarded grants from Advancing Black Arts, a partnership of the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Heinz Endowments, which supported the creation of his critically-acclaimed documentary "#Blackmendream," listed by the TriBeCa Film Institute as one of 10 films that capture the meaning of Black life in America. Shikeith has been invited to share his work nationally and internationally at several universities and institutions, including the Vera List Center, Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre, MIT, Morehouse College, The Seattle Art Museum, The Wrocław Contemporary Museum and with the Aperture Foundation.
Senior Writer and Critic , The Undefeated, ESPN
Bio: Soraya Nadia McDonald is a senior writer and critic covering culture for The Undefeated, a site from ESPN that launched May 17, 2016. Previously, Soraya covered arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post Style section, where she focused on issues surrounding race, gender, and sexuality. Soraya began her career covering sports for the Boston Globe, the Associated Press, and the Colorado Springs Gazette, among others. She’s also an experienced triathlete and she’s always training for her next race. The North Carolina native received her degree in journalism from Howard University.
Executive Director, Talent Acquisition, The New York Times
Bio: Stacey Olive serves as Executive Director of Talent Acquisition for The New York Times, integrating business strategy with recruitment expertise to support hiring. Previously, Stacey played a key role in establishing interviewing protocol as Director of Human Resources at Time Inc., and developing creative sourcing strategies as Director of Operations at Peak Counsel.
Stacey earned a B.S. in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University, and studied law at The George Washington University Law School.
Company Management, Associate, Morgan Stanley
Bio: Triston Francis is an Associate on Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Client Strategy Team, where he assists a Vice Chairman and Senior Client Advisor in strengthening relationships with Asian, Black and Hispanic clients across all of the Firm’s revenue generating divisions. Prior to joining this team, Triston worked within Investment Banking and Sales & Trading.
He was selected to represent Morgan Stanley in a pro-bono consulting project where he delivered strategy recommendations to Partnership with Children, an education nonprofit that works with New York City’s highest-need communities to provide critical social and emotional support for the hardest-to-reach youth and systematically build schools that are safe, successful, and conducive to learning.
Triston holds a Bachelor of Science with concentrations in Finance, Legal Studies and Business Ethics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. While at Penn, he served as President of both the Black Wharton Undergraduate Association as well as the African-American Senior Honor Society. He also served as a college house resident advisor, writing tutor, and as a public speaking coach.
He remains actively involved in Penn’s alumni community as both the Recruiting Director for Penn’s Virtual Alumni Interview Program as well as the Interview Chair for Northeastern Prep Schools. He is also active with two nonprofit organizations, Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) and Sponsorship for Educational Opportunity (SEO), which enable underrepresented minorities to maximize their professional success, positioning them to meaningfully give back and serve the minority community.
Triston will begin pursuing his M.B.A. at Harvard Business School in the Fall.
Head of Black Community Engagement , Google
Bio: Valeisha Butterfield Jones is the Head of Black Community Engagement for Google and the cofounder and CEO of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN). Valeisha has a deep passion for diversity and inclusion, as evidenced by her work for nearly two decades driving social responsibility campaigns and community engagement programs for corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Her work received global recognition and in 2009, Valeisha was appointed to serve in the Administration of U.S. President Barack Obama as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for International Trade and as the National Youth Vote Director for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, where she helped to deliver one of the highest youth voter turnouts in American history. Valeisha has been recognized as one of our country’s most respected leaders in business and philanthropy, including Forbes, Essence & Ebony. Valeisha is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and a North Carolina native, but considers New York City her home away from home. She's married and the mom of a 3 year old son.
Vann Newkirk II
Staff Writer , The Atlantic
Bio: Vann R. Newkirk II is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers policy and policy and focuses on issues of race, civil rights, and health. Vann is a graduate of Morehouse College and a native of North Carolina, and lives in Hyattsville, MD with his wife Kerone.
Creator , The AfroFuturist Affair
Bio: Rasheedah Phillips, Esq. is Managing Attorney of the Housing unit at Community Legal Services, a mother, writer, the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair, the co-creator of Black Quantum Futurism multimedia arts collective, and a founding member of Metropolarity Queer SciFi collective. In 2014 she independently published her first speculative fiction collection, Recurrence Plot (and Other Time Travel Tales), followed by an anthology of experimental essays from Black visionary writers called Black Quantum Futurism: Theory & Practice Vol. I in 2015. As part of BQF Collective, Phillips was a 2015 Artist-in-Residence at West Philadelphia Neighborhood Time Exchange, is a 2016 A Blade of Grass fellow, and has exhibited or performed at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Black Oak House Gallery, Temple Contemporary, Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago, WORM! Rotterdam, and more Phillips has work appearing in the book “Keywords for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late Capitalist Struggle” and “Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination” exhibition catalogue, and has had work published in the Temple University Political and Civil Rights Journal, Atlanta Black Star, and other publications.
Bio: Feminista Jones is a mental health social worker, sex-positive feminist writer, public speaker, and community activist currently residing in Philadelphia. She is an award-winning blogger and author of the popular novel, Push The Button. Her work centers Black American culture, critical race theory, intersectionality, women’s health and well-being (specifically in areas of mental and sexual health). Feminista has been featured in several publications, notably as a contributor to the New York Times, The Washington Post, EBONY, TIME, Essence, and SheKnows.
Bio: Haywood Perry is the Graduate Assistant for Student Success Programs at the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale. Imbued with a passion for connecting people to their purpose, Haywood is primarily responsible for advising students on navigating their professional trajectories. Prior to matriculating at Yale, where he is pursuing his Master of Divinity, Haywood served as a Graduate Fellow and Program Associate supporting the Youth & Engagement division of the Aspen Institute. In these capacities, Haywood managed the development and launch of a commission to infuse the youth voice into the Institute’s policy programs. Haywood continues to serve as the division’s liaison to the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development.
Prior to the Aspen Institute, Haywood was based in Chennai, India, serving as a Senior Analyst of the real estate development firm Crest Ventures. Haywood also previously served as a Program Manager at the African Youth Development Fund in Johannesburg, South Africa; as a Global Philanthropy Summer Analyst at JPMorgan Chase; and as a Barry & Marie Lipman Family Prize Fellow, where he conducted due diligence review of social sector organizations applying for an annual global prize that has grown to $250,000. While serving as a White House intern, Haywood supported the Office of Social Innovation & Civic Participation’s policy work in impact investing, nonprofit access to capital, cross-sector leadership, evidence-based innovation, and national volunteerism.
Born in Washington, DC, Haywood is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies. In 2015, Haywood was recognized by the White House as a Black LGBT Emerging Leader.
Bio: Ytasha L. Womack is an author, filmmaker, independent scholar and dancer who champions the power of the imagination. She's received honors including the 40 Impact Design Hub's "40 Under 40" Honors. Her book Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi & Fantasy Culture is a leading primer. Other works include the Rayla 2212 series, Post Black: How a New Generation is Redefining African American Identity, and Beats, Rhymes and Life: What We Love & Hate About Hip Hop. She is screenwriter for the romantic comedy Couples Night and is writer/director of the upcoming Afrofuturist feature film Bar Star City. A Chicago native, she received her B.A from Clark Atlanta University and studied Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management at Columbia College in Chicago.