Two years ago, many Americans were awakened to what marginalized communities long knew — that systemic racial inequities plague our society. This social justice movement – catalyzed by the police murder of George Floyd and the worldwide public outcry that followed – triggered a wave of commitments from leaders in both the public and private sectors.
Leaders from the highest levels of government to the largest U.S. corporations have pledged to do their part to address the systemic racism, disparities and inequities that Black Americans and communities of color face every day. These promises include committing billions of dollars to support minority-owned businesses and underserved populations; more attention and assistance to nonprofits working to advance social justice issues; and a top-to-bottom effort to increase equity and diversity within the federal workforce.
Punchbowl News wants to participate in these ongoing conversations by bringing visibility to the promises that have been made to marginalized communities and the progress in fulfilling those commitments. Through The Punch Up, we will examine where the public and private sectors are meeting the moment, where things have fallen short and how government and industry leaders can work together to break down barriers to opportunity for people of color.
Bradley is founder and managing partner of 1863 Ventures, a business development program that supports new majority entrepreneurs, turning their high potential into high growth. She serves as general partner of 1863 Venture Fund, venture partner at NextGen Ventures and as an adviser to Reign Ventures, New Voices Foundation and the Halcyon Fund. In addition, Bradley is a key member of several initiatives and corporate advisory councils aimed at boosting diversity and inclusion and supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Lori Castillo Martinez
In her role as executive vice president and chief equality officer for Salesforce, Castillo Martinez leads global equality efforts, including strategy and programs. Through her leadership, the company has continued to increase representation and create a more inclusive culture. Previously, she spent nearly a decade at a Fortune 5 healthcare company where she created the first enterprise-wide strategy for key legal, ethics, and regulatory risk areas and led the company’s Latinx Employee Resource group, helping advocate for women and people of color.
As deputy executive director and chief diversity officer for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Cole is the first person in the organization’s history to hold that role. Cole brings a wide breadth and depth of experience to her job through a dynamic career as a journalist, campaign and convention operative, senior adviser to members of Congress, fundraiser and organization leader. Cole is a graduate of the famed HBCU, Florida A&M University, and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Fernandez is responsible for leading and advancing Target’s enterprise-wide diversity and inclusion strategy as senior vice president of talent and change and the chief diversity and inclusion officer. Fernandez started her career at Target in 2001 and has an extensive background in human resources, retail operations, process and project management, store operations and team leadership. Fernandez is a mom of four and a certified yoga instructor who spends much of her free time teaching and practicing.
Anna Palmer, Punchbowl News CEO and founder, will facilitate the conversation. She will guide participants through a candid discussion about their career experiences, including hurdles and advancements in their efforts to achieve a more equitable workplace. In order to foster a sincere exchange of ideas and create a safe space for all opinions to be expressed, the Chatham House Rule will apply to the dialogue.
We will present topline themes and broad findings afterwards with the goal that Cohort participants and The Punch Up community walk away with concrete ideas for how the public and private sectors can work together to advance racial equity.
Hendrix serves as senior advisor of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility for the Office of Personnel Management, reporting to the agency director and leadership team on strategy and best practices. Previously, Hendrix served as the inaugural executive director for the House Office of Diversity and Inclusion and has worked within several agencies including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the State Department. She is a graduate of Xavier University and the Howard University School of Law.
As president and CEO of the National Urban League, Morial leads the nation’s largest historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization. He was previously the mayor of New Orleans, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a Louisiana state senator and lawyer with an active practice. He’s a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Pennsylvania and has been inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta.
As president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Tijerino leads a national nonprofit focused on education, workforce, social impact and culture. Previously, Tijerino was an executive at the Fannie Mae Foundation, Nike, Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe. He has received several honors for his innovative leadership related to human rights and philanthropy and was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters from The Chicago School. Tijerino is a proud immigrant from Nicaragua and a graduate of the University of Maryland.
As senior vice president of strategic alliances and outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wade provides counsel on policy issues and develops programs that impact diverse communities. Previously, Wade was principal of The Wade Group, a strategic communications and global business development firm, deputy chief of staff to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and a senior adviser to the 2008 Obama for America campaign. Wade is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and Harvard University.
Adjoa B. Asamoah has had a groundbreaking career as a champion for racial equity. But she says the term is still misunderstood by many Americans, despite a nationwide awakening to systemic racism over the last two years. “Racial equity is not a catch-all phrase to be used with diversity and inclusion,” Asamoah said in an interview. “Racial equity is about looking at where groups are situated based on these histories and structures and amending our approach – tailoring our approach to policy development accordingly – so that the inequities are actually eliminated,” she added. For Asamoah, this is her life’s work. It has taken many forms over the years, including her appointment this year as the racial equity czar for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, reporting to Secretary Marcia Fudge.
“When I talk about organizing for racial equity, I’m talking about organizing support for systems and policies and outcomes that acknowledge and change both inside and outside of institutions.”
More from The Punch Up
Punch Up Profile
This year, The Punch Up will profile four trailblazers who are leading the charge for change when it comes to racial equity and sustainability. Our second Punch Up profile, highlighting a pioneer in the equity and inclusion space, will launch in July.
The Dialogue will bring together a diverse set of thought leaders on racial equity in the public and private sectors for a facilitated conversation in late June.