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.”
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.
“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
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.
“Younger generations continue to understand transformational change and public accountability is needed to change ecosystems from years of antiquated and divisive practices and processes.”
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.
“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.”
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.
What key words embody your work? “Building, connecting, expanding opportunity.”
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.
What has changed the most since you started your career? “Broader support for racial equity amidst an aggressive backlash.”
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.
“The environment [around racial equity] has changed like the weather but the work needs to be constant and without the need for permission.”
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.
What inspires you? “Closing gaps that prevent individuals from realizing their own American dream.”
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.
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.
Adjoa B. Asamoah
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.”
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.
“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
THE PUNCH UP EXPANDS
Catch up on how we are growing The Punch Up, including expanding its focus to financial equity and access to health care.
DIVERSITY ACROSS THE AISLE
Check out the “Diversity Across the Aisle” event where we served as a media sponsor earlier this year.