Ronald’s role at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is to cultivate a corporate culture where diversity and inclusion are aligned with the company’s corporate strategies and values. He provides strategic leadership and counsel for diversity initiatives within the organization, including diversity awareness training, recruitment, cultural competency training, employee development and community outreach. Ronald has served in various management roles at BlueCross for 30 years, and is also a co-founder of the BlueCross BlueShield Association Diversity Alliance. The Alliance acts as a resource to share best practices and address diversity awareness and community outreach across the country. He earned a nomination for the prestigious Robert Shaw Symbol of Hope Award and has been featured in the Equal Opportunity Publication and African American Career World magazines. In 2015, Ronald was recognized by the Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute as one of the top five men promoting women in Chattanooga.
Ronald frequently serves as an expert speaker at business functions and conferences nationwide on diversity topics that impact the workplace. His presentations address issues such as generational diversity, disability awareness, stereotypes, effective cross-cultural communication, religion in the workplace and the business case for diversity.
Vernā Myers is an inclusion strategist, cultural innovator, thought leader, and social commentator. She’s known for her high-energy keynotes, her captivating insights, and her ability to help people bridge differences and connect more meaningfully.
A Harvard-trained lawyer and founder of The Vernā Myers Company, Vernā was recently made VP, Inclusion Strategy at Netflix. In this newly created role, she will help devise and implement strategies that integrate cultural diversity, inclusion and equity into all aspects of Netflix’s operations worldwide.
Vernā is the author of Moving Diversity Forward: How to Go From Well-Meaning to Well-Doing and What If I Say the Wrong Thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People. Her inspiring TED talk, “How to Overcome Our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them,” offers three ways any person can become an active participant in countering bias in themselves and in others to create a more just world. Vernā has been cited in The Atlantic, Forbes, the Harvard Business Review, and TED NPR Radio.
For the last two decades, Vernā and The Vernā Myers Company have helped organizations eradicate barriers based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and other differences with the aim of establishing a new, more productive and just status quo. As Vernā puts it, Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.® Vernā calls Baltimore home and when she’s not working, she’s unwinding on long road bike rides, visiting with family, or traveling the globe with her son, Tres.
Ken Barrett leads General Motors’ Global Diversity and Inclusion portfolio including workforce diversity strategy, empowering employee resource groups, and fostering an inclusive culture that promotes diversity of thought, to help GM compete and win in the marketplace. Since joining GM in 2012 as the company’s first Global Chief Diversity Officer, Barrett has introduced key initiatives resulting in increased diversity hiring, greater accountability through actionable metrics, and leveraged employee resource groups (ERGs) to support employees and sell cars among their respective constituencies. As Ken says, “It’s not about counting heads, it’s making heads count”. Barrett strives to set the bar high, and is regarded as a thought leader and subject matter expert in global diversity. Under his leadership, Barrett returned GM to Diversity Inc.’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity, along with garnering a number of awards including the #1 Diversity Council in the U.S. from the Association of ERGs & Councils, scoring 100 percent on both the Corporate Equality and Disability Equality Indexes, Global Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award, ranking the Best of the Best Corporations for Inclusion, as well as best places to work for African Americans, Hispanics/Latinas, LGBT, Veterans, Native Americans and People with Disabilities.
Prior to joining GM, Barrett, a retired Navy Captain, served as the Undersecretary of Defense’s acting director of the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity in Washington, D.C., where he set the D&I agenda for 2.1 million military personnel. Prior to that, he had five years of award-winning performance as the U.S. Navy's Diversity Director, where he achieved historic levels of minority and female officer additions and transformational work-life balance initiatives. Further, through his leadership, the U.S. Navy was selected as the Top Federal Agency by DiversityInc. For his efforts as lead of the Navy's Task Force/Life Work, Barrett and his team were recognized with the Ted Childs Work Life Excellence Award by Working Mother.
A Worcester, Massachusetts native, Barrett holds a bachelor’s in political science from Holy Cross, a master’s in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College and an executive master’s degree in business administration from the Naval Postgraduate School. Additionally, he was Navy’s Federal Executive Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Olin Institute and a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College.
Ken serves on several boards including Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE), National Organization on Disability (NOD), Families and Work Institute (FWI), Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF), New Detroit, Inc. and the editorial board of “Insight into Diversity.”
Dr. Wang-Jones is a leader of global diversity and inclusion. She spearheads and drives strategic plans to integrate D&I into the business across IKEA. Her leadership in LGBT+, gender, and religious inclusion impacts 150,000+ co-workers company-wide in nearly 50 countries. With her dual PhD in Organizational Psychology and Clinical Psychology, she is also a coach and psychotherapist helping individuals achieve their full potential. Additionally, she is an independent organizational development consultant specializing in strategic D&I, unconscious bias, and transgender issues in the workplace. She develops business strategies that improve organizational effectiveness while leveraging the power to make positive social change.
Stephanie Franklin is the Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at Vertex. She oversees all global aspects of human resources, including Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, Global Organization & Leadership Development, HR Business Partners, Engagement and Diversity & Inclusion.
Stephanie is a business-focused, results oriented executive with over 20 years of experience in diverse industries and geographies who invests in designing & implementing successful HR strategies that enable organizations to achieve their unique potential. She is a leader in the community as Board Member and President of the Human Resources Leadership Forum (HRLF), a member and former Board Chair of the Boston-Manchester March of Dimes, and a member of the Bottom Line Massachusetts Regional Advisory Board. Stephanie was also co-founder & leader of the Procter & Gamble Boston Women’s Network, a senior mentor for the Women Unlimited Leadership Development Program, and Vice Chair of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay Healthy Childhood Development Initiative.
Stephanie holds a B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Corporate and Organizational Communications from Western Kentucky University. She worked there as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Communications prior to moving into the field of Human Resources.
Judith has been at the forefront of the culture change movement in technology and entertainment – with a deep focus on analytics and strategies to identify and disrupt bias in social systems and corporate culture. She joined SAP in September 2018 as Head of People Sustainability and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer leading both diversity and inclusion and business health programs at SAP.
Previously, she ran an organization which consults with start-ups, venture capitalists, and accelerators on embedding diversity and inclusion into the foundations of their organizational cultures. Judith has also been instrumental in the development of the ReFrame Project, a partnership between the Sundance Institute and Women and Film. The project addresses systemic barriers in the Hollywood ecosystem, and encourages gender parity at every level in film, TV and media.
Prior to that as Global Head of Diversity for Dropbox, Judith was responsible for all diversity and inclusion programs, as well as corporate social responsibility. Her efforts increased the pipeline of women and underrepresented minorities at Dropbox, creating a more inclusive corporate culture and forming deeper ties into the communities where the company operates. Judith lives in San Francisco, CA.
Melonie Parker is hailed as an advocate for change and is a passionate thought leader. As an HR executive committed to innovative, relevant, and contemporary HR leadership, she is responsible for advancing Google's employee engagement strategy across diversity, equity and inclusion. Additionally, Parker serves as a Minority in Energy Initiative Champion for the Department of Energy.
Parker previously served as the Vice President of Human Resources & Communications at Sandia Corporation, where she was responsible for the company's communication efforts, leadership and Labs-wide management of human resources, health, benefits and employee services. Prior to Sandia, Parker held a variety of leadership roles during her 17-year career at Lockheed Martin.
Author and D&I Expert, Dr. Tony Byers, boldly challenges the status quo and decades of diversity and inclusion practices, is transforming D&I from “the right thing to do” to the business imperative of our time. His presentations provide the perfect balance of “why now” and “how to” that will take your thinking on inclusion — and your organization — to the next level. Author of the book, “The Multiplier Effect of Inclusion: How Diversity and Inclusion Advances Innovation and Drives Growth.”
Dr. Byers is best known for leading and revitalizing Starbucks’ highly respected and successful D&I function and programming. As Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion, he developed and lead the company’s strategic direction to drive engagement, innovation and business growth. Prior to Starbucks, his impressive track record in large matrix multinational organizations included Cargill, where he developed diversity programs for global business units and a pioneering role as a transformational D&I leader at H.J. Heinz. With 20+ years working in the field, Dr. Byers brings a diverse set of experiences and thinking to his D&I practice, including work in the nonprofit and education sector, as an organizational management consultant and as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota, Metropolitan State University and the University of Wisconsin.
He holds a Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Development and a M.A. in Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, California. His doctoral thesis focused on effective strategies for building support for diversity programs among senior leaders.
Jolen Anderson is Senior Vice President HR and Chief Diversity Officer of Visa Inc. Since joining Visa in 2005, Jolen has developed a broad understanding of the company’s business having held a variety of roles with the legal department and demonstrated a commitment and passion for promoting talent with a particular emphasis on Diversity & Inclusion.
As Chief Diversity Officer, Jolen leads the strategic development and implementation of Visa’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy. She leads a team focused on enterprise-wide change efforts for the advancement and retention of top performing talent inclusive of women and people of color in an inclusive work culture. Jolen also serves as a Human Resources Executive and lead HR Business Partner for the Client Organization in which she serves as the strategic advisor to the President and his leadership team on all “people agenda” and HR-related topics.
She is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Law and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Policy from Northwestern University. Jolen is admitted to practice in California and Illinois, and is a member of the Charles Houston Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers Association, Minority Corporate Counsel Association, Association of Corporate Counsel, and the Labor and Employment Section of the America Bar Association. She is also a member of the board of directors for the San Francisco African American Art and Culture Complex.
Maxine Williams is the Global Head of Diversity at Facebook. In this role, she develops strategies to harness the unlimited potential of Facebook’s talent while managing a high performing team of diversity program managers from the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, CA. Prior to Facebook, she served as the Director of Diversity for a global law firm. A graduate of Yale University, she received her law degree with first class honors from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. As an attorney, she has represented clients in criminal, civil and industrial courts in both her native Trinidad and in the U.K. at the Privy Council. She has worked with multiple international organizations on development and human rights issues and has had a parallel career as a broadcast journalist and on-air presenter.
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