Friday, February 26, 2021
8:30AM – 9:00AM CST
WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS
8:30AM – 9:00AM CST
WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS
9:00AM – 10:00AM CST
Marc H. Morial
President, National Urban League
Opening Keynote: Shaping the African American Agenda
Marc H. Morial is President and CEO of the National Urban League, the nation’s largest historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization. As Mayor of New Orleans from 1994 to 2002, Morial led New Orleans’ renaissance, and left office with a 70% approval rating. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Economics and African American Studies, he also holds a law degree from the Georgetown University.
Sheba Turk, Anchor, Eyewitness Morning News on WWL-TV
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In a distinguished professional career that has spanned 25 years, Marc Morial has performed all of these roles with excellence and is one of the most accomplished servant-leaders in the nation. As President and CEO of the National Urban League since 2003, he has been the primary catalyst for an era of change — a transformation for the 105-year old civil rights organization. His energetic and skilled leadership has expanded the League’s work around an Empowerment agenda, which is redefining civil rights in the 21st century with a renewed emphasis on closing the economic gaps between whites and Blacks, as well as other communities of color, and rich and poor Americans.
During his tenure, the League had record fundraising success with a 280MM, five-year fundraising effort. He has secured the BBB nonprofit certification, which has established the NUL as a leading national nonprofit, and the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, which has placed the NUL in the top 10 percent of all U.S. charities for adhering to good governance and other best practices, as well as executing its mission in a fiscally responsible way.
Under his stewardship, the League launched a historic $100 million, five-year “Jobs Rebuild America: Educate, Employ, Empower” initiative in 2013 – a solutions-based, comprehensive approach to the nation’s employment and education crisis that brings together federal government, business, and nonprofit resources to create economic opportunity in 50 cities across the country through the Urban League affiliate network.
His creativity has led to initiatives such as the Urban Youth Empowerment Program to assist young adults in securing sustainable jobs and Entrepreneurship Centers in 10 cities to help the growth of small businesses. Also, Morial helped create the Urban Empowerment Fund, which will lend to urban impact businesses, and helped create the League’s New Markets Tax Credits initiative, which has resulted in $1 billion in community investment via urban impact businesses, including minority business, through both debt and equity investments.
As mayor of New Orleans, Morial was a popular chief executive with a broad multi-racial coalition who led New Orleans’ 1990’s renaissance and left office with a 70% approval rating.
As a lawyer, Morial won the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award for his legal service to the poor and disadvantaged. He was also one of the youngest lawyers, at age 26, to argue and win a major case before the Louisiana Supreme Court.
As a professor, Morial served on the adjunct faculty of Xavier University in Louisiana, where he taught Constitutional Law and Business Law.
As a Louisiana state senator, Morial was named Legislative Rookie of the Year, Education Senator of the Year, and Environmental Senator of the Year, while authoring laws on a wide range of important subjects.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Economics and African American Studies, he also holds a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., as well as numerous honorary degrees including Xavier University and Howard University.
Under appointment by President Obama, Morial has served as Chair of the Census Advisory Committee, a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, and on the Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission. He was also appointed to the Twenty-First Century Workforce Commission by President Bill Clinton.
Morial has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential Black Americans by Ebony Magazine, one of the Top 50 Nonprofit Executives by the Nonprofit Times, and one of the Top 100 Black Lawyers in America.
10:00AM – 11:00AM CST
HEALTH EQUITY PANEL: Covid-19 and the Vaccine
The topics of race, health, and equity come together in this critical conversation. As more Louisiana residents gain access to the coronavirus vaccine, what does it mean for the African American community? The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the racial disparities experienced by communities of color in Louisiana. The vaccine is here, but what is the solution for racial disparities in health? Thought leaders and experts will explore these questions and more in this dynamic panel.
Director, City of New Orleans Health Department
Dr. Jennifer Avegno is a New Orleans native who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Arts in Sociology from Tulane University and her MD from LSU School of Medicine – New Orleans. She completed her residency at LSU/Charity Hospital Emergency Medicine and joined the faculty at both LSU and Tulane shortly after graduation, where she served as Associate Residency Director and Director of Undergraduate Emergency Medicine Education for both medical schools.
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In 2017, she established the Division of Community Health Relations & Engagement in the LSU Section of Emergency Medicine, and as its director worked with institutional, governmental, and other community organizations to facilitate innovative programming, interdisciplinary partnerships, and improved population health outcomes. Her clinical, program, and research interests include the role of social determinants of health, particularly access and barriers to care; health equity; violence intervention/prevention; sexual assault and human trafficking; and homelessness. In 2018, she was appointed as the Director of the Health Department for the City of New Orleans, where she works with a dedicated team of public health professionals in addressing critical health needs for the community. Honors include being named to Gambit’s “40 Under 40,” a CityBusiness Healthcare Hero, and several leadership and teaching awards.
Chief Diversity Officer, Ochsner Health
Deborah Grimes is Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) at Ochsner. In her role, Grimes is critical in leading workforce and employee strategy.
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Deborah worked at UAB Risk Management as a Healthcare Attorney for nine years. In 2004, she returned to Hospital Administration as the Director of Joint Commission/ Quality Resources. She was promoted to VP of Quality/Regulatory Affairs named Chief Compliance Officer for UAB Hospital. During this tenure she received a certification as a Healthcare Quality Professional, Certified Healthcare Compliance, completed leadership fellowship training with Momentum Inc. and graduated with Master’s in Science Degree in Quality and Patient Safety. Effective April 1, 2017 she was appointed as UAB Health System first Chief Diversity Officer. Named by Savoy magazine 2019 one of the Most Influential Women in Corporate America. In March of 2020 was hired as Ochsner Health’s first VP Chief of Diversity and Inclusion.
Deborah also serves as a Board member of the Alabama Kidney Foundation and is Past President, for Momentum Inc. Co- Founder of Breast Cancer Support Group “The Courage Network to assist breast cancer survivor to thrive while surviving treatment. She is a member several professional groups, such as Black Nurses Association, Society of Human Resource, Birmingham Society of Human Resources, Healthcare Compliance Association and National Association Society of Healthcare Executives. She is married to Ernest Grimes Jr. for 27 years they have 2 children Ernest III and Jessica Grimes Patton.
Assistant Secretary, Office of Public Health, Louisiana Department of Health
Dr. Joseph Kanter is the State Health Officer and Medical Director, serving as the top medical official of Louisiana Department of Health, consulting on issues relating to policy, programmatic implementation, quality and accessibility of care, health equity, emergency preparedness and infection control, and bearing responsibility for enforcing the state’s Sanitary Code.
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Dean, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University
Thomas LaVeist is dean of the Tulane University, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He has written over 150 scientific articles, numerous mass media outlets, authored six books, and is executive producer of “The Skin You’re In,” documentary series about racial inequalities in health.
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An award winning research scientist, Dr. LaVeist has received the“Innovation Award” from National Institutes of Health, the “Knowledge Award” from the U.S.A.Department of Health and Human Servicesandwas elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
Chief Executive Officer, Louisiana Public Health Institute
Shelina Davis is Chief Executive Officer of the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI).
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Shelina is a New Orleans area native and former LPHI employee who led the Institute’s behavioral health work and in 2013, went on to serve in a leadership role at the National Council for Behavioral Health in Washington, D.C., most recently as Assistant Vice President of Practice Improvement. In this role, Shelina has significantly advanced and expanded the Council’s public health portfolio. In addition, she has provided strategic guidance and expertise to community-based organizations, community behavioral health organizations, and federal, state, local, and tribal agencies in a variety of areas, including primary-behavioral health care integration, health information technology implementation, and tobacco and cancer control and prevention.
11:00 AM – 11:45 AM CST
Serial Entrepreneur, Founder, Solid Ground Innovations (SGI), Resilia
A Conversation on Black Entrepreneurship with Sevetri Wilson and Sheba Turk
Sevetri Wilson is a serial entrepreneur and the Founder of two companies, Solid Ground Innovations (SGI) and, most recently, Resilia, a New Orleans-based technology startup.
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Anchor, Eyewitness Morning News on WWL-TV
Sheba Turk co-anchors WWL-TV’s Eyewitness Morning News and is the author of the book “Off Air: My Journey to the Anchor Desk.” Sheba is an alumnus of Soledad O’Brien’s PowHerful Foundation and mentors with the organization. She is passionate about helping other people, especially other young women, reach their full potential.
MAYOR’S PANEL: Leading Through Crisis and Beyond
The Mayor’s panel in 2019 was one of the most inspiring moments of the 2019 Empowerment and Policy Conference and we are excited to announce that it will happen again in 2021! African American Mayors from across the state will join us to share their experience of responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and leading their cities during a time of racial reckoning, as well as share their thoughts on what it means to create the opportunity for more. The panel will include topics critical to African American communities across the state, including police reform, education equity, and small business supports.
Mayor-President of Baton Rouge
Sharon Weston Broome is the first woman to be elected as the leader of the capital city of Louisiana. Her focus is to unite the citizenry around the common goals of equality in education, economic development, justice, housing and other quality ways of life.
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During her time in office, Broome has placed a heavy focus on improving the quality of life within the citizenry. Her areas of focus are specifically in developing areas such as infrastructure, public safety, economic growth, and education, among many other areas.
Before becoming the first female to hold the position of Mayor-President of the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, Broome served as a Baton Rouge Metro City Council Member, a Louisiana State Representative, and a Louisiana State Senator.
While serving in the legislature, Broome became the first woman to hold the leadership positions of Speaker Pro Tempore in the House and President Pro Tempore in the Senate.
Over the years, she has also been recognized for her service and leadership by several organizations, including the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Louisiana Health Freedom Coalition, American Heart Association, Every Child Matters, Baton Rouge NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, Girl Scouts Louisiana East 2017 Women of Distinction Award, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (Lambda Kappa Kappa Chapter) 2017 Citizen of the Year, and National Congress of Black Women.
Faith and family are priorities for Broome. She is happily married to Marvin Broome. They are the proud parents of three children and three grandchildren.
Broome holds a B.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse and an M.A. in Communications from Regent University. Broome has served as an adjunct instructor at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge Community College, and Southern University. In addition, she was a reporter for five years for WBRZ-TV, the Baton Rouge ABC affiliate.
Mayor of Alexandria
Mayor Hall is the first African-American mayor of Alexandria. On taking office on December 4, 2018, he stepped down as a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 26. Jeff is working towards a safe and unified Alexandria.
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Hall is a graduate of the historically black Grambling State University in Grambling in Lincoln Parish. He has formerly resided in Pineville, Opelousas, and Mansfield, Louisiana, and Amarillo, Texas.
Hall won a special election to the House on February 21, 2015, with 84 percent of the vote.
Hall stressed economic development, jobs, and resolving the $1 billion state budget shortfall as the principal issues he would face as state representative.
Mayor of Shreveport
Mayor Perkins assumed his duties as the 56th Mayor of Shreveport on December 29th, 2018. A graduate of Harvard Law and the first African-American cadet elected Class President in West Point Academy’s history, Perkins is now using his knowledge and experience to serve his hometown. He is focusing on policing reform, economic development, and smart-city initiatives.
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In the wake of 9/11, Perkins felt compelled to serve his country. He accepted a nomination to West Point, where he was the first African-American cadet elected Class President in the Academy’s history. Subsequently, he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, achieving the rank of Captain and Company Commander in the United States Army.
After three tours of duty, Perkins enrolled in Harvard Law School, where he was once again elected Student Body President. He chose Harvard to gain the requisite skills and knowledge to serve his hometown, focusing his studies on crime and the use of technology by city governments. While in law school, he assisted Governor John Bel Edwards on criminal justice reform.
Adrian Perkins announced his candidacy on April 26th, 2018. During the campaign, he stressed policing reform, economic development, and smart-city initiatives.
Principal, JD Russell Consulting
Jade Brown-Russell is a proud native of New Orleans. Jade is Principal of JD Russell Consulting, LLC (“JDR”), a full service consulting firm focusing on regulatory compliance, legal counsel, corporate turnaround/workout services and governmental relations. Jade began her professional career at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago, Illinois, where she gained experience in mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, corporate governance and securities related transactions.
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Under Jade’s leadership, JD Russell Consulting has grown from a “solo shop” to a team of ten (10) professionals who focus on providing results-driven strategies and outcomes for their clients. The JDR team works collaboratively with several public and private agency clients on strategic planning, diversity, inclusion, policy development and other business solutions, including the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District and the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Jade’s team also provides key turnaround services to public and private clients.
She currently serves as Chairman of the Urban League of Louisiana and is a Board member of Bricolage Academy, Ashe Cultural Arts Center and the Arts Council of New Orleans. Jade is a Past Chairman of the Downtown Development District and the immediate past Co-Chair of the Solo and Small Practitioner’s Section of the New Orleans Bar Association. She is also a founding member and the inaugural President of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans Young Professionals and the former General Counsel and Secretary of the Young Leadership Council, the City of New Orleans two premiere young professionals organizations. Jade is co-author of the Amazon Best Seller, “Champions Never Tell”, and she co-hosts two radio shows: Pumps, Pearls and Politics on WBOK 1230 AM (New Orleans) and Momentum Mondays WQSW 100.5FM (Indianapolis).
In 2012, Jade was honored by New Orleans CityBusiness in its Leadership in Law class. In 2008 and 2013, she was honored as a New Orleans CityBusiness Woman of the Year, and in 2009 and 2011 she received the Urban League’s Rising Star Award for her professional and civic accomplishments. Jade earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in Political Science from Howard University, where she was named a Patricia Roberts Harris Fellow. She earned her Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Southern University Law Center where she served on the Student Bar Association as President of the Senior Class, and was Vice Chairman of Moot Court. Jade is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Links Incorporated. She is the proud mother of daughter, Jadon, and son, Dorsett.
12:45PM – 1:30PM CST
Louisiana State Superintendent of Education
Fireside Chat with Superintendent Cade Brumley
Dr. Cade Brumley began his tenure as the Louisiana State Superintendent of Education in June 2020. Dr. Brumley is a product of public education who has invested his entire professional career into improving the lives of Louisiana children. He has served students as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, district leader, and superintendent. He stated in his “100 Days for a Strong Start” Plan: “I have been a committed, deliberate, and passionate educator for nearly two decades in Louisiana. I know our passions, people, possibilities, and purpose. My desire is to stabilize the moment and add value for the future. We will transition Louisiana into one of America’s leading environments for student learning.”
Deirdre Johnson Burel, Program Officer, New Orleans, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
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Dr. Cade Brumley began his tenure as the Louisiana State Superintendent of Education in June 2020. Dr. Brumley is a product of public education who has invested his entire professional career into improving the lives of Louisiana children. He has served students as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, district leader, and superintendent.
Prior to joining the Louisiana Department of Education, Dr. Brumley served as Superintendent of Jefferson Parish Schools, the largest school system in the state with more than 51,000 students. Under his steady leadership, the school system earned its first increase in four years on its 2019 state report card; led the state in Advanced Placement growth; outpaced the state’s gains on the number of students earning Mastery on state assessments; provided local educators with their first raise in over a decade; adopted standardized district-wide curriculum; and created a Transformation Network to provide extra support and resources to high-need schools.
Before that, Dr. Brumley served six years as DeSoto Parish Schools Superintendent in Northwest Louisiana. During his time in DeSoto, results greatly improved, and the system now ranks as one of Louisiana’s top ten districts for student academic achievement, an increase from 49.
In addition, Dr. Brumley served as the President of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, representing the interests of all Louisiana school systems at the state level.
Dr. Brumley holds a Bachelors of Science in Education from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, a Masters of Education in School Administration from Louisiana State University – Shreveport, and a Doctorate of Education in School Leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. He has served as adjunct instructor at multiple universities and has supported numerous non-profit organizations in the areas of organizational leadership. He has completed several post-doctorate fellowships centered around urban education in America.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM PANEL: Reform Through the District Attorney’s Office
District Attorney’s offices across the country are becoming champions and catalysts for criminal justice reform that, at times, seems to go against everything we think about the role of the lead prosecutor. In this dynamic, critical, and intimate conversation, the District Attorney from Orleans Parish and the State’s Attorney from Cook County will share what it means and what it takes to achieve public safety and be a progressive criminal justice system reformer.
Cook County State’s Attorney
Kimberly M. Foxx is the first African American woman to lead the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office – the second largest prosecutor’s office in the country.
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As Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim has undertaken substantial criminal justice reforms focused on public safety and equity. She has revamped the office’s Conviction Integrity Unit, resulting in overturned convictions in over 80 cases, including the first-ever mass exoneration in Cook County for 15 men whose convictions stemmed from misconduct by a Chicago Police Officer. She has been a leader in bond reform, instructing prosecutors to agree to recognizance bonds where appropriate, and reviewing bond decisions in cases where people are detained because they are unable to pay bonds of $1,000 or less. Kim has taken the lead on prioritizing resources away from low-level offenses to focus on violent crime, including raising the threshold for approving felony charges for retail theft to $1,000, and declining to prosecute misdemeanor traffic offenses for failure to pay tickets and fines. Kim played a vital role in passing legislation to legalize cannabis and provide the broadest and most equitable conviction relief possible. Providing this relief is not only a critical part of righting the wrongs of the failed war on drugs that disproportionately harmed communities of color; it is also a statement of her values and commitment to justice for all.
Kim is the first and only prosecutor in the country to make felony case-level data available to the public. The open data portal provides unprecedented access and transparency into the work of a prosecutor’s office. Her goal is to make the Cook County the most transparent prosecutor’s office in the country.
Kim served as an Assistant State’s Attorney for 12 years, and was also a guardian ad litem, where she worked as an attorney advocating for children navigating the child welfare system. Prior to being elected State’s Attorney, Kim served as Chief of Staff for the Cook County Board President, where she was the lead architect of the county’s criminal justice reform agenda to address racial disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
Born and raised in Cabrini Green on Chicago’s Near North Side, Kim is a graduate of Southern Illinois University, where she earned a B.A. in Political Science and a J.D. from the SIU School of Law.
Jason R. Williams
Orleans Parish District Attorney
Jason Williams was elected District Attorney for Orleans Parish in December 2020. He served six years on the City Council, four of which he served as its president,
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Motivated by his experiences representing indigent defendants in law school and keenly aware of the importance of holding prosecutors to a high standard if they want to imprison people, Jason soon started his own law practice focused on criminal defense. After winning a series of high profile criminal cases, the Louisiana Supreme Court appointed Jason to serve as a judge in New Orleans’ Criminal District Court, making him the youngest district judge in the City’s history. After his tenure as Judge, Williams returned to his vigorous practice handling hundreds of cases in criminal and civil court and represented countless defendants, many of them at no cost to his clients at all, in state and federal courts.
Year after year, Jason’s efforts resulted in wins for his clients, not compromises. He did not shy away from unpopular or challenging cases and his dedication and talent resulted in hundreds of not guilty verdicts, some in highly publicized trials.
Beginning in 2002, Jason also has dedicated a sizable portion of his pro bono efforts to working with Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO), a non-profit that works to investigate and free wrongly convicted prisoners in Louisiana. His first success with IPNO was when he helped to free two wrongly convicted men—Greg Bright and Earl Truvia. In 1976, Greg and Earl were 19 and 17-years-old respectively when they were wrongly accused of a murder in the Calliope housing project. They were wrongly convicted in 1977, and then sentenced to life in prison without parole. Jason and IPNO’s work meant they were exonerated and freed in 2003 after 27 ½ years in prison. Since that first case, Jason has stayed closely involved with IPNO’s work, continuing to volunteer his time as a lawyer and serving on its board of directors for ten years. He remains an emeritus member of IPNO’s board and a committed supporter. Jason also served on the Louisiana State Indigent defender Board’s Director Selection Committee and has worked as an adjunct Professor at Tulane Law School.
In 2008, at the age of 35, Jason ran for Orleans Parish District Attorney. He was the youngest candidate and unlike other candidates, he had never worked for New Orleans’ longtime District Attorney, Harry Connick. Jason Williams knew New Orleans needed a break with the oppressive practices of a bygone era. Although a political newcomer, his popularity quickly grew in communities tired of the same-old criminal justice system failing a city still recovering from the catastrophic devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Jason was a popular candidate in the small-but-growing progressive circles in the city, but he lacked the fundraising capabilities of the other two candidates, Ralph Capitelli and Leon Cannizzaro. New Orleans was not ready for Jason’s progressive ‘smart on crime’ platform and voted for Leon Cannizzaro and his ‘tough on crime’ agenda. But Jason’s 2008 run for District Attorney was not for political gain, it was because for 15 years he has sincerely believed that we need to transform New Orleans’ criminal legal system into an instrument of progress, not an instrument of oppression. So he re-focused on representing and advocating for people from our city’s marginalized communities, doubled down on his pro bono work with Innocence Project New Orleans, and considered where he could best help re-make the dysfunctional systems he saw. Jason was privileged to be in the inaugural class of the Norman C. Francis Leadership Institute, where fellows are immersed in principles of radical leadership and substantive public service from nationally-renowned coaches and professors. Jason carries one of its key lessons with him every day: striving to be an adaptive leader, open to discovering new strategies and policies in a transparent way that can yield better results rather than being tied to past practices out of habit or for the sake of tradition.
In 2014, he saw an opportunity to begin trying to make government work for the people of New Orleans and ran for City Council. Although a political novice, his substantive and progressive agenda was elected by a two-to-one margin and in 2017 he overwhelmingly secured a second term, defeating four challengers without a runoff. In his six years on the City Council, four of which he has served as its president, Jason implemented the teaching of Marty Linsky from the Norman C. Francis Leadership Institute, working to create a host of public facing dashboards providing real time data and information to the people of New Orleans regarding neighborhood crime, jail population, money bail and traffic camera tickets. Jason also led the effort for the innovative funding of early childhood education in his first term, making New Orleans the first municipality in the country to make such significant front end investments in its youth. Jason challenged president Trump’s horrific immigration policies making it clear that no New Orleans agencies or officers would be allowed to participate in any ICE raids or initiatives. He has also worked with his fellow members of the council to achieve municipal bail reform and decriminalized marijuana.
Jason is a proud and devoted father to three children, and lives in uptown New Orleans with his wife, Dr. Liz Marcell Williams, founder and CEO of the Center for Resilience, his 2-year-old son, Xavier, his 14-year-old son Graham and a very lazy pit bull, Ignatius.
LA House of Representatives, District 93
Royce Duplessis serves as State Representative for District 93 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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3:00PM – 3:45PM CST
Dr. Michael McAfee
President & CEO, PolicyLink
Putting Racial Equity into Practice
Dr. Michael McAfee serves as the President and CEO of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute focused on advancing racial and economic equity. He leads the organization’s efforts to advance policies to enable everyone to participate in an equitable economy, live in a community of opportunity, and thrive in a just society. He was a catalyst for a new and growing body of work – corporate racial equity – and creation of the Corporate Racial Equity Advantage. He believes in the urgency of now and is determined to ensuring equity is not just another catchphrase but one that realizes the true promise of racial and economic inclusion.
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Dr. Michael McAfee became President and CEO of PolicyLink in 2018, seven years after becoming the inaugural director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink. His results-driven leadership, depth of knowledge about building and sustaining an organization, and devotion to serving the nation’s most underserved populations made him the obvious choice to lead the 20-year-old PolicyLink as Angela Glover Blackwell transitioned to founder in residence.
During his time at PolicyLink, Michael has played a leadership role in securing Promise Neighborhoods as a permanent federal program, led efforts to improve outcomes for more than 300,000 children, and facilitated the investment of billions of dollars in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. He is the catalyst for a new and growing body of work — corporate racial equity — which includes the first comprehensive tool to guide private-sector companies in assessing and actively promoting equity in every aspect of their company’s value chain. Michael carries forward the legacy to realize the promise of equity — just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.
Michael also understands the urgency of now. The nation is rapidly becoming a majority people of color. In cities and towns across the country many people are embracing the concept of equity and intent on achieving racial and economic equity for all. At the same time, as the word is used more, the concept of equity is in danger of becoming diluted, just another catchphrase of civil society, leaving the true promise of racial and economic inclusion unrealized. Michael is determined that this will not happen.
Michael is ensuring equity does not become watered down. He is turning movement leaders’ eyes toward redesigning the “rules of the game” so that all people in America — particularly those who face the burdens of structural racism — participate in a just society, live in a healthy community of opportunity, and prosper in an equitable economy. He is achieving this by enacting liberating public policies targeted to the 100 million people living in or near poverty, the majority of whom are people of color.
His legacy will lie in his efforts to stand in transformative solidarity with others, collectively charting a course to Win on Equity. He is building a well-planned, well-coordinated, well-executed, and sustained campaign that frees America’s democracy from the oppressive blend of patriarchy, capitalism, and racism.
Before joining PolicyLink, Michael served as senior community planning and development representative in the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). While at HUD, he managed a $450 million housing, community, and economic development portfolio where he partnered with local leaders to create more than 3,000 units of affordable housing and 5,000 jobs and to ensure access to social services for more than 200,000 families. Before his public service, Michael served as the director of community leadership for The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation and Affiliated Trusts. He was instrumental in positioning the organization to raise $121 million from individual donors, an accomplishment recognized by the Chronicle of Philanthropy for receiving more contributions than any community foundation in America. Michael’s commitment to the needs of people of color and those living in poverty extends to his work on the boards of Bridge Housing, Independent Sector, North Lawndale Employment Network, One Degree, and Sweet Beginnings, LLC, each of which is committed to creating opportunity for those among the 100 million economically insecure people in America.
Previously, Michael served in the United States Army and as Dean’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He earned his Doctor of Education in human and organizational learning from George Washington University and completed Harvard University’s Executive Program in Public Management.
He is a sought-after speaker on community and economic development, leadership, organizational development, racial equity, and youth development. His articles have appeared in Academic Pediatrics, Cascade, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; Community Development Innovation Review, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Harvard Education Press, New York Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Voices in Urban Education, published by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.
THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS!
URBAN LEAGUE OF LOUISIANA FEATURED AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS
ALL OF US IS A RESEARCH PROGRAM FROM THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH (NIH). It is seeking one million or more people from across the U.S. to help speed up medical research. People who join will share information about their health, habits, and what it’s like where they live. By looking for patterns, researchers will learn more about what affects people’s health.
Residents who smoke or have a history of smoking are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or coronavirus. Everyone living in Louisiana deserves the opportunity to live a healthy, tobacco-free life regardless of race, education, gender sexual orientation, the job they have, the neighborhood they live in or whether they have a disability.
Contact Tracing is the process of identifying all people that a COVID-19 patient has come in contact with in the last two weeks. During the pandemic, public health workers, or contact tracers, follow up with and interview people who have COVID-19 and their contacts. Contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19. Having a diagnosis or being exposed to COVID-19 is nothing to be ashamed of.