61 Thought Leaders & Innovators in DEI to Follow

Hallo Blog
Published in
10 min readOct 12, 2020


Who are the thought leaders currently pushing forward diversity and inclusion strategies, recruiting practices, and awareness around equitable solutions? Who’s getting in the trenches in different industries and building new ways to do business better? Who’s at the forefront of lifting up underrepresented communities and voices to showcase their offerings to the world?

Here they are. Get to know them and what they’re up to below.

Aiko Bethea

Aiko Bethea is a seasoned executive coach helping organizations and leaders build diversity, equity, and inclusion frameworks. Bethea also supports individuals in underrepresented groups in organizations through her company RARE Coaching & Consulting.

Akilah Cadet

Akilah Cadet runs Change Cadet to train companies and individuals to be “soldiers of change” in the workplace and to provide resources to support DEI initiatives, especially for women and people of color.

Arlan Hamilton

Arlan Hamilton runs Backstage Capital, a venture capital firm seeking to bridge funding gaps in tech industries by backing people of color, women, and LGBT founders. She’s also backed funds dedicated to black women founders.

Aubrey Blanche

Aubrey Blanche is a trusted advisor in the area of analyzing systems and structures that create imbalance, and redesigning them to provide more equitable workplace cultures. Blanche is currently the Director of Equitable Design & Impact at Culture Amp.

Avery Francis

Named one of the “Top 40 Women in Tech Worth Following,” Avery Francis is a talent strategist focused on connecting start-ups with top hires, and helps them design equitable approaches for recruiting that focus on creating diverse teams.

Barb McAllister Whye

As Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Intel Corporation, Barb McAllister Whye has over twenty-five years of experience developing strategies for diversity and inclusion practices across the company, as well as initiatives for social impact.

Brenda Williams-Butts

The first Vice President of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion at New York Public Radio, Brenda Williams-Butts is responsible for bringing in new talent to the station, and has built relationships and new audiences all over New York City.

Byron L. Williams

Dedicated to staff development, strategy, and hands-on management, Byron L. Williams spent five years with the Peace Corp as their Diversity Outreach Specialist, designing national programs for underrepresented communities.

Candice Morgan

Considered one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Candice Morgan oversees strategies for investing capital in more diverse start-up founders as the Diversity and Inclusion Partner at Google Ventures.

Carin Taylor

Serving as the Chief Diversity Office at Workday, a cloud solutions provider, Carin Taylor has a long history in tech building strategies for diversity and inclusion initiatives, creating sponsorship programs for up-and-coming leaders, and diversity recruitment.

Carol Watson

As Chief Inclusion Office at BCW Global, a communications agency, Carol Watson focuses on increasing diversity and inclusion awareness in order to transform marketing, advertising, and branding initiatives.

Cynthia Bowman

In her extensive career at Bank of America, where she is now the Chief Diversity and Inclusion and Talent Acquisition Officer, Cynthia Bowman creates strategies across the bank’s business units, ensuring that initiatives stay at the forefront of management decisions.

Cynthia Owyoung

Cynthia Owyoung focuses on the impact of diversity, inclusion, and equity in her role as the Vice President of Inclusion, Culture, and Change at Charles Schwab. She is also a board member at AbilityPath, which provides programming for disabled individuals.

Doug Melville

As the Chief Diversity Officer at creative agency TBWA, Doug Melville works to implement diversity and inclusion programming and practices across their North American office, as well as across the workforce and supply chain.

Dr. Freada Kapor Klein

Freada Kapor Klein is one of the founding partners of Kapor Capital, who seeks to back founders of color, those from underrepresented communities, and those from low income areas. She also founded the first organization to combat sexual harassment in 1976.

Dr. Sarah Saska

Dr. Sarah Saska is the co-founder and CEO of Feminuity, a company that helps workplaces implement equitable solutions and build diverse teams. Saska has also landed on Culture Amp’s list of “Diversity and Inclusion Leaders You Should Know.”

Ellen McGirt

Ellen McGirt, Senior Editor at Fortune Magazine, has a long history of covering topics of race, inclusion, and diversity in her journalism career, and writes the daily award-winning newsletter “RaceAhead.”

Erica Lovett

As the Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Cartier North America, Erica Lovett seeks to grow individuals and brands in their diversity efforts. Previous to Cartier, she was the Director of Inclusion and Diversity at Condé Nast.

Francisco Estrada

Francisco Estrada creates diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and priorities in the world of sports and media, where he’s currently the Senior Manager of Talent Sourcing at Nike, focusing on executive-level searches for the corporate office.

Franklin Reed

With over two decades at IT services company TEKsystems, Franklin Reed is now the Director of Inclusion and Diversity, focusing on diverse recruiting practices, training programs and curriculum, and compiling inclusion and diversity scorecards.

Gabrielle Lyse Brown

Formerly the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the New York City Bar Association, Gabrielle Lyse Brown now heads Diversity and Inclusion at Morgan Stanley, where she implements strategies across finance, investment, and operations business units.

Iris Bohnet

Iris Bohnet is the academic dean at Harvard Kennedy School and a behavioral economist whose research addresses ways to make workplaces fairer and more unbiased. Her book What Works: Gender Equality by Design provides best practices to de-bias workplaces.

Jay Bendett

Jay Bendett is the co-founder of DEI at Argo Collective, a consulting group that uses theories, frameworks, and data to help companies initiate change around inclusion, as well as the Senior Diversity and Inclusion Strategist at marketing agency Interpublic Group.

Joe Gerstandt

Speaker and trainer Joe Gerstandt seeks to help companies understand what diversity and inclusion is, and why it’s crucial for growth into the future. He’s published in HR Executive, The Diversity Factor, The American Diversity Report, and more.

Joelle Emerson

Joelle Emerson is the founder and CEO of Paradigm, a firm that helps tech startups strategize data-driven diversity and inclusion initiatives, and before Paradigm, she served as a women’s rights employment lawyer.

Johnnie Pope

With a career in media companies Scripps Networks and Discovery, Inc., Johnnie Pope is a recruiting specialist focusing on early career coaching within universities, and is enthusiastic about connecting the right people to the right organizations.

Juliette Austin

A self-proclaimed change agent and disrupter, and with a solid background in diversity and recruiting roles, Juliette Austin helps organizations understand and appreciate the value of differences in the workplace.

Karima-Catherine Goundiam

Karima-Catherine Goundiam is an entrepreneur who works to build relationships and create collaboration. She’s the CEO of Red Dot Digital, a strategy firm, and the founder of B2BeeMatch, a business match-making platform.

Katelin Holloway

An early-stage angel investor, Katelin Holloway seeks to help founders create their inclusion strategies and build diverse teams. Holloway also hosts the All Hands podcast, focusing on building teams in tech.

Kathy J. Goss

Kathy J. Goss has devoted two decades to building strong cultures, teams, and strategies around diversity and inclusion. Goss is currently Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Recruiting at ServiceNow, working on creating better, more equitable systems for talent acquisition.

Laura I. Gómez

Laura I. Gómez looks to help businesses adopt machine learning into their recruiting practices and founded both Atipica, a diversity and inclusion analytics platform, and Project Include, a non-profit providing data-based inclusion solutions for tech companies.

Lauren Aguilar, PhD

Founder of Forshay, a recruiting consulting firm, and head of Inclusion and Diversity, Lauren Aguilar applies scientific insight and design thinking to help companies enact strategies for more inclusive workplaces and hiring.

Lenora Billings-Harris

An authoritative diversity strategist, Lenora Billings-Harris is the President and CEO of UbuntuGlobal, a consulting firm helping companies minimize unconscious bias in the workplace and become more successful by valuing differences.

Lesa Bradshaw

A talent acquisition consultant, Lesa Bradshaw focuses on disability inclusion. She works with companies to assess their current approach to diversity in the workplace, and to help them build better strategies, practices, and culture around inclusion.

Lina Garzon

Lina Garzon is the Talent Acquisition Associate at New Visions for Public Schools in New York City, where she seeks to pull in diverse recruits for the school. Formerly, she oversaw diversity and inclusion for IPG Mediabrands.

Matthew Yazzie

As the Strategic Director and Facilitator at Collective DEI Lab, Matthew Yazzie brings experience in the DEI field to his work with helping millennial-run organizations build cultures and pipelines that support underrepresented talent.

Melinda Briana Epler

Melinda Briana Epler has over twenty-five years helping start-ups, NGOs, and Fortune 500 companies develop their diversity and inclusion strategies, and is the founder and CEO of Change Catalyst, a company that fosters inclusivity in tech.

Michelle Kim

Michelle Kim is an entrepreneur, speaker, and writer that seeks to educate companies around empowerment, social justice, and human rights, as well as the co-founder and CEO of Awaken, a company that trains workplaces to be more inclusive.

Minda Harts

Minda Harts is an in-demand speaker on diversity, racial equity, and leadership, as well as the founder and CEO of the website The Memo (and author of the book The Memo), dedicated to helping women of color advance in their careers.

Mini Timmaraju

With a background in political campaign leadership, Mini Timmaraju now serves as the Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Comcast NBCUniversal, creating and implementing strategies for diversity and inclusion in media.

Myisha T. Hill

Myisha T. Hill is a mental health advocate, anti-racism educator, and founder of the Check Your Privilege project, which engages in dialogue around ways white women can support BIWOC and can become better allies.

Nichole Barnes Marshall

Vice President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at L Brands, Nichole Barnes Marshall creates inclusive strategies for the well-known retailer, and has implemented diverse hiring strategies for its over 80,000 associates.

Noel Hornsberry

As the Senior Director of Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Cornerstone OnDemand, which specializes in data-driven human resources development, Noel Hornsberry has implemented strategies for diversifying recruiting and cultural awareness.

Oona King

Before joining Snap Inc. as the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Oona King served as the senior policy advisor on diversity to the UK Prime Minister, and oversaw equity, diversity, inclusion, and integrity strategy for Google.

Rachel Cheeks-Givan

Rachel Cheeks-Givan is a long-time professional and professor, and currently oversees diversity and inclusion efforts globally for Pfizer, where she’s initiated programs, overseen resource groups, and implemented more equitable systems and processes.

Randi Bryant

Speaker, author, and strategist Randi Bryant engages audiences around topics of race, gender, and sexual orientation in regards to inclusion, and provides training solutions to companies looking to expand their inclusion initiatives.

Reginald Miller

As Vice President of Global Inclusion and Diversity at VF Corporation, considered one of Forbes Magazine’s “Best Employers for Diversity in America,” Reginald Miller seeks to be a leader in embracing inclusion initiatives across the business’ global network.

Rosa Nunez

As Foley Hoag’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Rosa Nunez is applying her history of implementing diversity and inclusion strategies to the law firm, co-chairing its Diversity Committee, and looking to revamp diversity recruitment.

Roshaunda Green

A long-time consultant on diversity and inclusion with Turner/Time Warner, and a Diversity Operations Project Specialist at Randstad, Roshaunda Green seeks to promote the value of multicultural and diverse teams as critical to the success of a workplace.

Ryan Carson

Ryan Carson is the founder and CEO of Treehouse, which offers affordable and accessible coding classes, and that helps companies create more diverse, knowledgeable teams. Carson is also challenging workplace norms by having flats hierarchy and four-day workweeks.

Stacia Sherman Garr

A researcher on diversity and inclusion, people analytics, and human resources technology, Stacia Sherman Garr co-founded RedThread Research, a human capital advisory firm that creates better data-driven solutions for workplaces.

Steven Huang

Devoted to creating a better, more equitable world, Steven Huang was the first HR analyst at Facebook. He’s since led diversity and inclusion initiatives at Square, Culture Amp, and Jumpstart, and is currently Managing Director of Collective DEI Lab.

Tariq Meyers

Now the Vice President of Strategy at Jumpstart, a virtual recruiting platform, Tariq Meyers was the first Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Lyft, creating an environment of inclusion, and pioneering its Gender Inclusion and Affirmation Policy.

Tasha Aoaeh

Coming from diversity and inclusion management roles at JetBlue, Twitter, and Verizon, Tasha Aoaeh is now the People Care Director at Audible, Inc., where she creates inclusive environments for its Customer Care employees.

Tequilla Lopez

Tequilla Lopez oversees talent recruiting strategies as the Director of Inclusion, Talent Planning, and Development at Best Buy, where she supports acquisition initiatives, and works to raise awareness around the importance of diversity and its opportunities.

Tiffany Edwards

Seeking to raise awareness around diversity and inclusion efforts in creative industries, Tiffany Edward was the first Engagement and Inclusion Director at Droga5 creative agency, and now oversees strategy as its Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion.

Tiffany Warren

As Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Omnicom, a marketing communication company, Tiffany Warren is leading efforts to increase recruitment and retention of talent that includes women, people of color, and LGBTQ.

Tina Moore Gilbert

Tina Moore Gilbert is a leader in diversity and inclusion strategies in healthcare, tech, and pharmaceuticals, and is currently the Inclusion and Diversity Leader at Accolade, Inc., focusing on making more diverse business systems and operations.

Tony Prophet

With a long career creating inclusive recruiting programs and building diverse communities in tech and software, Tony Prophet is currently Chief Equality and Recruiting Officer at Salesforce, as well as head of its Ethical and Humane Use of Technology Initiative.

Torin Perez

A consultant, author, and anti-racism educator, Torin Perez speaks on diversity, inclusive leadership, bias, and personal development, and is considered by Culture Amp as a “D&I Influencer You Should Know.”

Veronica S. Appleton

Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at marketing firm TMA, Veronica S. Appleton drives strategy and innovation around recruiting, with a focus on inclusion around BIPOC, LGBTQ, and disabled communities.

Keep an eye on these changemakers as we’re confident they’ll continue to add to conversations around diversity and inclusion, recruiting strategies, and awareness around equitable solutions.



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