African American Speakers Leading The Way

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It’s no secret that the past few years have shed light on the consistent racial injustices against African Americans that are still prevalent in today’s society. As the world becomes more aware of the systematic oppression that lingers in our everyday lives, it’s important to understand the vital role that the African American community plays in our nation and that Black Lives Matter (BLM).

From Black inventors (like the inventor of the traffic light, ironing board, and microphone), to social activists who fought for civil rights of Black and Brown people in America; Black people have always been an essential part of the economic and social shaping of our country.

We are extremely proud to represent some of the world’s most inspiring, motivating, resilient, and influential Black speakers on the circuit. They come from all backgrounds, including roles as singers, COOs, CEOs, surgeons, TV personalities, actresses, and more. Their unique perspectives and impactful stories are world-renowned for igniting change, disruption, diversity, and inclusion in well-known organizations and companies.

  • Sekou Andrews, Grammy-Nominated Creator of "Poetic Voice" & Inspirational Speaker
  • Shellye Archambeau, Former Chief Executive Officer, MetricStream
  • Jason O. Harris, Decorated Combat Leader, Trust & Leadership Advisor, & Creator of No Fail Trust
  • Maurice Ashley, First African-American Chess Grandmaster, Analyst, Commentator and Emcee
  • Chief Carmen BestFormer Chief of Police in Seattle, WA
  • Nichol Bradford, Futurist and Transformative Tech Pioneer, Founder, & Executive
  • Dr. Tarika Barrett, CEO, Girls Who Code
  • Colin Coggins & Garrett Brown, Sales Mindset Advisors, USC Adjunct Professors of Entrepreneurship, Authors, & Founding Partners of Agency18
  • Jonathan Capehart, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist and Television Personality
  • Ginny Clarke, Former Director, Executive Recruiting at Google and Holistic Leadership Strategist
  • Ashley Farmer, Assistant Professor, History & African Diaspora Studies, University of Texas-Austin
  • Reggie Fils-Aimé, Former President and COO of Nintendo of America Inc.
  • Anthony Foxx, Chief Policy Officer at Lyft and Former United States Secretary of Transportation
  • Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley
  • Jessie Hayes-Stallings, Beauty Industry Leader, Founder & CEO of Skinphorea Facial Bar, and Creator of RevitalizeU Skincare Line
  • Joan Higginbotham, Retired NASA Astronaut, Electrical Engineer, & Third African American Woman in Space
  • Amy Holmes, Acclaimed Political Commentator and Host of PBS's “In Principle”
  • Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative and Former Mayor of Dallas
  • Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Life Sciences Leader, Former EVP, Chief Medical Officer, & Chief Patient Officer at Pfizer, Inc.
  • Hakeem Oluseyi, Astrophysicist, Former Space Science Education Lead for NASA, and Inspirational Speaker
  • Nadja West, First African American Army Surgeon General and Former Commanding General, US Army Medical Command
  • James D. White, Transformational Leader and Former Chair, President, & CEO of Jamba Juice
  • Vernice Armour, First African American Female Combat Pilot
  • Donna Brazile, Renowned Political Strategist and Commentator, Former Interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee
  • Antoinette Clarke, Author, two-time Emmy Award-winning television producer and the SVP of Branded Entertainment and Media Innovation at ViacomCBS
  • Tricia Clarke-Stone, Entrepreneur, Former CEO, Author, Award-winning Marketer
  • Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley
  • Jessica O. Matthews, Innovator and CEO, Uncharted
  • Linda Johnson Rice, Chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Company | Former Chairman Emeritus of Ebony Media Operations
  • Bakari Sellers, CNN Political Analyst & Former Representative from South Carolina
  • Lauren Simmons, Youngest Trader, Only Female and Second-Ever African American Woman at the New York Stock Exchange

Check out some of our African American speakers below:

SEKOU ANDREWS | Grammy-Nominated Creator of "Poetic Voice" & Inspirational Speaker

Sekou Andrews is the Founder/CEO of SekouWorld, Inc., innovator of “Poetic Voice,” and one of the most successful spoken word poets in the world. On any given day, this schoolteacher turned artist and entrepreneur, who built a 7-figure company on poetry, can be found keynoting at a Fortune 500 company, inspiring thousands at a concert, or performing for Barack Obama in Oprah’s backyard. Click here to read about Sekou Andrews.

 

SHELLYE ARCHAMBEAU | Former Chief Executive Officer, MetricStream

Shellye Archambeau spent 15 years at IBM and became the first African-American woman sent on international assignment by the company. She was named the #2 Most Influential African-American in Technology" by Business Insider and grew MetricStream from a newly-formed company into a market leader with 1,500 employees globally. Click here to read more about Shellye Archambeau.

 

JASON O. HARRIS | Decorated Combat Leader, Trust & Leadership Advisor, & Creator of No Fail Trust

A decorated combat veteran, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jason O. Harris is revered for his distinguished track record leading his air crews on successful missions and instilling a culture of trust in which each person owned his or her role in keeping the team out of harm’s way. Click here to read more on Jason O. Harris.

 

MAURICE ASHLEY | First African-American Chess Grandmaster, Analyst, Commentator and Emcee

Maurice Ashley made history in 1999 when he became the first African-American chess grandmaster. He is a three-time national championship coach, author of Chess for Success: Using an Old Game to Build New Strengths in Children and Teens, ESPN commentator, iPhone app designer, puzzle inventor, and motivational speaker. Click here to read more about Maurice Ashley.

 

NICHOL BRADFORD | Futurist and Transformative Tech Pioneer, Founder, & Executive

Working at the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, behavior, technology, and science, Nichol Bradford’s mission is to empower human transformation and wellbeing by catalyzing new visions, opportunities, and tech-enabled tools for all. She ignites new ways to use technology to expand beyond our perceived limits and reach our fullest potential through her global non-profit Transformative Tech.org, working with talented researchers, founders, and investors across the globe who build tech for human health and happiness that will redefine wellbeing for the next decade. Click here to read more about Nichol Bradford.

 

DR. TARIKA BARRETT | CEO, Girls Who Code

With a career dedicated to addressing inequities in education and helping young women of all backgrounds succeed, Dr. Tarika Barrett is at the forefront of expanding the pipeline of women entering tech and removing the obstacles that stand in the way of them reaching their full potential. As the CEO of Girls Who Code, an international non-profit organization disrupting the tech industry and transforming perceptions of what a programmer can look like, she spearheads initiatives aimed at closing the gender gap in technology by inspiring, educating, and equipping young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities. Click here to learn more about Tarika Barrett.

 

CHIEF CARMEN BEST | Former Chief of Police in Seattle, WA

Chief Carmen Best is the first African American woman to hold the top policing job in Seattle, Washington. In 2019, she received the "Vision from the Mountaintop” award from Urban Impact for her commitment to justice and community. During her time at the Seattle Police Department, she fostered record-breaking women and diversity hiring and recruitment. Click here to read about Carmen Best.

 

COLIN COGGINS & GARRETT BROWN | Sales Mindset Advisors, USC Adjunct Professors of Entrepreneurship, Authors, & Founding Partners of Agency18

Colin Coggins and Garrett Brown are on a mission to change the way the world views salespeople by radically changing the way salespeople think about sales… and themselves. They are the creators of “The Unsold Mindset,” a counterintuitive and highly effective method for growing sales and revenue that focuses on why great salespeople (including those that don't have "sales” in their title) are actually the opposite of who you think they are. Click here to read about Colin Coggins & Garrett Brown.

 

GINNY CLARKE | Former Director, Executive Recruiting at Google and Holistic Leadership Strategist

Dedicated to helping leaders create the conscious workplace for tomorrow, Ginny Clarke has advised at the highest levels of corporate America for decades. A proven expert in driving diverse leadership, she is the former director of executive recruiting at Google, where she led the company’s diversity, non-tech recruiting, and leadership internal mobility teams – finding and hiring senior leaders across the company. She also built a scaled internal mobility program for Google’s senior leaders to advance within the organization, and designed much of the infrastructure that supports their executive recruiting function today. Learn more about Ginny Clarke here.

 

JONATHAN CAPEHART | Journalist and Television Personality

Jonathan Capehart is a journalist and television personality who has worked as a policy advisor to Michael Bloomberg’s campaign, a national affairs columnist, and was a member of the Daily News editorial board which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. He currently writes for The Washington Post’s PostPartisan blog and is a contributor for MSNBC. Read more about Jonathan Capehart.

 

ASHLEY FARMER | Assistant Professor, History & African Diaspora Studies, University of Texas-Austin

Ashley D. Farmer is a well-known historian as well as an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. As a contributor to The Washington Post, The Independent, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Public Books, she is well-versed in making historical issues and concepts accessible to the general public. Read more about Ashley Farmer.

 

REGGIE FILS-AIME | Former President and COO of Nintendo of America Inc.

An award-winning innovator and disruptor, Reggie Fils-Aimé is a proven expert on transforming companies, re-vitalizing brands, and reshaping industries to solve daunting challenges and achieve ‘the impossible.’ Most recently, he was the president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America – the first American and African-American to hold this position. Learn more about Reggie Fils Aime.

 

ANTHONY FOXX | Chief Policy Officer at Lyft and Former United States Secretary of Transportation

Anthony Foxx is the Chief Policy Officer at Lyft who formerly served as the 17th United States Secretary of Transportation and as mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. As Secretary of Transportation, he led an agency with more than 55,000 employees and a budget of $70 billion. A digital cities innovator known as "the Great Connector" for his work in government, he discusses the American transportation system, digital cities, innovation, and coalition building. Learn more about Anthony Foxx.

 

CARLA HARRIS | Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley

Carla Harris is Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley and a leading keynote speaker on motivation, success, and exceeding expectations. In her current role at Morgan Stanley, she is responsible for increasing client connectivity and penetration to enhance revenue generation across the firm. She has extensive industry experiences in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial, and healthcare sectors. The recipient of numerous awards, including being named to Fortune Magazine’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America,” Harris was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council in 2013. She is the author of two best-selling books, Strategize To Win and Expect To Win, and the creator of “Carla’s Pearls,” the centerpiece of her speeches and television appearances. Carla’s pearls are nuggets of wisdom hard-earned throughout her long and impressive career, which she imparts on audiences globally. See more on Carla Harris.

 

JESSIE HAYES-STALLINGS | Beauty Industry Leader, Founder & CEO of Skinphorea Facial Bar, and Creator of RevitalizeU Skincare Line

A beauty industry vanguard, Jessie Hayes-Stalling is the founder and CEO of Skinphorea Facial Bar & Acne Clinic who took her passion for skincare and manifested it into the first facial bar and acne clinic in Metro Detroit — a concept that has made waves in the industry. Noticing a gap in the market for the on-the-go client with limited time for professional skincare services, she created an express service that offers women a faster, best-in-class facial spa experience without breaking the bank. See more on Jessie Hayes-Stallings.

 

JOAN HIGGINBOTHAM | Retired NASA Astronaut, Electrical Engineer, & Third African American Woman in Space

A former NASA astronaut, Joan Higginbotham is a trailblazing electrical engineer who, in December 2006, flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-116 to become the third African American woman to travel into space. Over the nearly 13-day mission, she joined the seven-member crew to continue construction of the International Space Station (ISS), embarking on four space walks and operating the station’s robotic arm. Click here to read about Joan Higginbotham.

 

AMY HOLMES | Acclaimed Political Commentator and Host of PBS's In Principle

Amy Holmes is a familiar face with an unconventional voice in political news. As an on-air political analyst, Amy dissects and debates the issues of the day, appearing regularly on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and PBS. She is the host of the PBS weekly program "In Principle," and the former host of the daily MSNBC morning show Way Too Early. In addition to working with TheBlaze and MSNBC, she co-hosted the Washington Times and Talk Radio Network's America’s Morning News, a nationally-syndicated morning radio show heard coast-to-coast by over 1.5 million listeners daily. Find out more about Amy Holmes.

 

RON KIRK | Former U.S. Trade Representative and Political Insider

Ambassador Ron Kirk is the former United States trade representative (USTR) who was a pivotal member of the president’s economics team. With nearly 20 years in politics, he has been a Dallas mayor, U.S. Senate candidate, a lawyer with international reach. Boisterous and entertaining, Kirk analyzes the current political environment and offers audiences a glimpse behind the curtain in Washington and into what the president is really thinking. He also addresses trade, jobs, the economy, and doing business in China. Learn about Ron Kirk.

 

DR. FREDA LEWIS-HALL | Life Sciences Leader, Former EVP, Chief Medical Officer, & Chief Patient Officer at Pfizer, Inc.

A pioneer in medicine and leadership, Freda Lewis-Hall, MD, DFAPA, MFPM has been on the frontlines of healthcare for more than 40 years as a clinician, researcher, and leader in the biopharmaceuticals and life sciences industries. Learn more about Freda Lewis-Hall.

 

HAKEEM OLUSEYI | Astrophysicist and Former Space Science Education Lead for NASA

Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi has three degrees, 8 U.S. patents, four E.U. patents and has hosted shows on the Science Channel and on Discovery. But more impressive is his life story. Oluseyi grew up in the roughest neighborhoods of America, learned to survive on the street, and still taught himself Einstein’s theory of relativity from an old set of encyclopedias. At every turn he was presented with a compelling option to quit and yet he persevered. Today, he is a world-renowned astrophysicist (most recently working at NASA), a global educator, and the author of a highly-anticipated upcoming memoir The Stars in My Soul: My Unlikely Journey through Space and Time where he recounts his journey from the streets to the stars. Find out more about Hakeem Oluseyi.

 

NADJA WEST | First African American Army Surgeon General and Former Commanding General, US Army Medical Command

A trailblazer in female leadership, Lieutenant General (ret) Nadja West is the 44th Army Surgeon General and the former Commanding General of US Army Medical Command. She is the first African American woman 3-star General in the Army’s history, and currently the highest-ranking woman to ever graduate from West Point. Read more about Nadja West.

 

JAMES D. WHITE | Transformational Leader and Former Chair, President, & CEO of Jamba Juice

A transformational leader with more than 30 years of experience as a CEO and operating executive, James D. White has overseen the evolution and growth of some of the world’s most iconic brands in the consumer products, retail, and restaurant industries. Most recently as the former chair, president, and CEO of Jamba Juice, he led the successful turnaround and transformation of the company from smoothie shop to a leading global, healthy active lifestyle brand, and has held senior executive roles at Safeway Stores, Inc., the Gillette Company, Nestle-Purina PetCare, and Coca-Cola. Learn more about James D. White here.

 

VERNICE ARMOUR | First African American Female Combat Pilot

Leveraging her “Breakthrough Mentality” and “Get Gutsy” mindset, Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour propelled herself from beat cop to combat pilot in a record-breaking three years and became America’s First African American Female Combat Pilot. As featured on CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, Oprah Winfrey, NPR, Tavis Smiley, and ABC's The View, FlyGirl’s fresh, edgy style, high, contagious energy and unique, gutsy essence jump off the stage, page, and screen and moves people to action. Since 2007, she has inspired countless organizations and individuals to make gutsy moves and create breakthrough results. Find out more about Vernice Armour.

 

DONNA BRAZILE | Renowned Political Strategist and Commentator, Former Interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee

Veteran political strategist Donna Brazile is the former interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the author of the New York Times bestseller Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House and the 2004 best-selling memoir Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics. She is a co-author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics, which won the 2019 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Nonfiction. Read about Donna Brazile.

 

ANTOINETTE CLARKE | Author, two-time Emmy Award-winning television producer and the SVP of Branded Entertainment and Media Innovation at ViacomCBS

Antoinette Clarke is a two-time Emmy Award-winning television producer and former Supervising Producer & Producer for a variety of award-winning talk shows with hosts Montel Williams, Tyra Banks, Rachael Ray, and Nate Berkus. She uses expert marketing knowledge to develop ideation, pitching, selling, negotiating, developing and activating strategic branded content and advertiser partnerships across multiple platforms for the CBS Daytime slate of shows and specials. Read more about Antoinette Clarke.

 

TRICIA CLARKE-STONE | Entrepreneur, Former CEO, Author, Award-winning Marketer

Tricia Clarke-Stone has created over 100 digital, social, experiential and immersive campaigns for blue chip brands and startups like Under Armour, JCPenney, Samsung, Toyota, P&G, and Universal Pictures. She is the cofounder and former CEO of WP Narrative, an award-winning creative and tech agency and has been featured in the New York TimesFast CompanyElle, USA TodayMarie ClaireForbes, and FortuneRead more about Tricia Clarke-Stone. 

 

CARLA HARRIS | Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley

Carla Harris is Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley and a leading keynote speaker on motivation, success, and exceeding expectations. In her current role at Morgan Stanley, she is responsible for increasing client connectivity and penetration to enhance revenue generation across the firm. She has extensive industry experiences in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial, and healthcare sectors. Find out more about Carla Harris.

 

JESSICA O MATTHEWS | Innovator and CEO, Uncharted

Jessica O. Matthews is the Founder & CEO of Uncharted, an award-winning, full-service power and data infrastructure company. The Company's proprietary suite of technologies enables it to build, own and operate decentralized power infrastructure for communities with various applications for edge colocation, power, and sensing. Developing technologies in energy generation, transmission and storage, the Company also has mastered harnessing kinetic energy, enabling it to engineer consumer products for Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. and various international governments. The Company was founded by Jessica when she was only 22 years old Learn more about Jessica O Matthews.

 

LINDA JOHNSON RICE | Chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing Company | Former Chairman Emeritus of Ebony Media Operations

Over the past 30 years, Linda Johnson Rice has served on 10 corporate board and has been featured in Chicago Sun-Times' list of Chicago’s 100 Most Powerful Women and the Top 10 Women in Media. She shares invaluable lessons, she’s gained by building a world-renowned business brand, as well as her view of how far we’ve come as a nation and where we go from here. Learn more about Linda Johnson Rice here.

 

BAKARI SELLERS | CNN Political Analyst & Former Representative from South Carolina

Bakari Sellers made history in 2006 when, at just 22 years old, he defeated a 26-year incumbent State Representative to become the youngest member of the South Carolina state legislature and the youngest African American elected official in the nation. In 2014, Sellers won the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor and is widely considered to be a rising star within the Democratic Party and leading voice for his generation. Read more about Bakari Sellers.

 

LAUREN SIMMONS | Youngest Trader, Only Female and Second-Ever African American Woman at the New York Stock Exchange

Lauren Simmons shares her story of becoming the youngest and second-ever African American woman equity trader at the NYSE at just 22 years old. She was named to Harper’s Bazaar’s “Woman Who Dare” 2019 list and is the host of “Going Public” – a new financial TV series on Entrepreneur.com. Read more about Lauren Simmons.

 

At Leading Authorities, we are proud of our speakers and the work they are doing to combat systematic racism and oppression through Black Lives Matter. For additional information on how to get involved with the movement to fight for liberation and justice for all, please click one the links below:

  • Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an organization dedicated to the equality of black men and women. Their mission is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.”
  • Color of Change is a civil rights organization motivated to “design winning strategies to change the written and unwritten rules in the industries that affect Black people’s lives the most and have the greatest potential to advance racial justice.”
  • LDF is an organization advocating for Black rights. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks “structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.”
  • The Black Alliance for Just Immigration is an advocator for civil rights. They “believe that a thriving multiracial democracy requires racial, social and economic justice for all. African Americans and black immigrants are stronger together and we can win by becoming leaders in the fight against structural racism and systemic discrimination."

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