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Meet the Cohort

Punchbowl News will bring together eight industry leaders for an open, robust and meaningful dialogue on racial equity. Cohort participants will include experts from the private sector, Capitol Hill, the administration and the nonprofit world, all with executive-level experience and recognized as leaders in their field.

Punchbowl News, in partnership with Google, is spotlighting four elected officials at the center of their state and local economies. The Leaders highlights their successes and the lessons they’ve learned along the way as they apply innovative approaches to job creation, economic growth and sustainability.


Read the third profile on Rep. Emilia Sykes, who is pitching Ohio as key to jumpstarting U.S. manufacturing.

What key words embody your work? “Humbling, exciting and paradigm-shifting.”

Melissa Bradley

“There has been a dramatic shift in the conversation around equality — just in the past five years or so. …People want to interact with and work for brands that align with their values.”

Lori Castillo Martinez

Tasha Cole
“Younger generations continue to understand transformational change and public accountability is needed to change ecosystems from years of antiquated and divisive practices and processes.”

Tasha Cole

Kiera Fernandez
“The biggest evolution has been the shift to shared accountability on all things racial equity, diversity, inclusion and wellness. This movement requires commitment and action from everyone.”

Kiera Fernandez

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.

What key words embody your work? “Building, connecting, expanding opportunity.”

Kemba Hendrix

What has changed the most since you started your career? “Broader support for racial equity amidst an aggressive backlash.”

Marc Morial

“The environment [around racial equity] has changed like the weather but the work needs to be constant and without the need for permission.”

Antonio Tijerino

What inspires you? “Closing gaps that prevent individuals from realizing their own American dream.”

Rick Wade

Punch Up Dialogue

Punch Up Dialogue

Punch Up Dialogue

Punchbowl News hosted our dialogue conversation on racial equity as part of The Punch Up. The 90-minute virtual session was an impactful conversation with leaders in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. A big thank you to Target for their partnership on the platform. And to the leaders: Kiera Fernandez, Lori Castillo Martinez, Tasha Cole, Rick C. Wade, Jose Antonio Tijerino & Kemba Hendrix for joining us. Looking forward to sharing more throughout the year and at our year-end event, “The Findings”, in December.

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Adjoa B. Asamoah

Headshot of Adjoa Asamoah
Senior Adviser for Racial Equity at The Department of Housing and Urban Development

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.

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“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.”


Marc Morial

President and CEO of the National Urban League

Marc Morial views 2022 as a consequential inflection point in the United States’ fight for racial justice. In the two years since the police murder of George Floyd, Morial said there are areas for hope in the equality movement, particularly in the federal government. But Morial, who’s helmed the National Urban League since 2003, also said there’s reason for caution. “There's an ugly and nasty backlash in certain quarters of the country that is manifesting itself as an anti-democratic backlash,” Morial said.

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“I’ve seen the change. America is a different place. But that notwithstanding, the movement by the extremists and the far right to push back is dangerous and it threatens the real, meaningful progress we’ve made. We’ve got so much more that we have to do.”

More from The Punch Up


Punchbowl News HQ debuts at CBC Week

In honor of CBCF ALC week, we launched our first ever Punchbowl News HQ. Members of our team and the Congressional Black Caucus communities came together Thursday for thoughtful conversations on health equity, networking, music and food.



Check out the “Diversity Across the Aisle” event where we served as a media sponsor earlier this year.