World-class civic and corporate leaders, venture capitalists and entreprenuers, artists and community organizers, educators and innovators from the local, national and international stage, to engage in discussions and work through potential to propel action.
GRAMMY Award-winning, Academy Award-nominated Musician and Filmmaker, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Pharrell Williams is a visionary recording artist, producer, songwriter, philanthropist, fashion designer, and entrepreneur. He has been honored with 13 Grammy Awards, including 2004, 2014, and 2019 Producer of the Year, and ASCAP’s Golden Note Award in 2012. He has received two Academy Award nominations for “Happy” (Despicable Me 2) and for co-producing Best Picture-nominated Hidden Figures (2016). Williams also received a Golden Globe Nomination for co-scoring the film. In 2019, Williams received an Emmy-nomination for original song "Letter to My Godfather," for Netflix’s Black Godfather about legendary music executive, Clarence Avant. In 2020, Williams was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame for his work as The Neptunes. In 2018, Pharrell narrated Universal’s remake of the classic film The Grinch, authored the book A Fish Doesn’t Know It’s Wet, and released Netflix Original series Brainchild (2018) with his producing partner, Mimi Valdés. Other projects include Dope (2015), Roxanne Roxanne (2017), Voices of Fire (2020) and Amazon’s Harlem, which has been renewed for a second season. In 2019, Pharrell founded YELLOW, a non-profit working to even the odds for all youth through education, helping them realize their potential. In 2020, Williams launched Black Ambition, a non-profit initiative that provides a bridge to success for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who are launching tech, healthcare, Web 3.0 and consumer products/services start-ups. A longtime advocate against racial injustice, Pharrell was an integral part in talks with Virginia Governor Northam about Juneteenth being a permanent paid state holiday. In April 2019, Williams launched his first SOMETHING IN THE WATER, a multi-day music festival and experience on the beach in his hometown of Virginia Beach. This summer, Williams brought his SOMETHING IN THE WATER Music festival to Washington D.C. on Juneteenth Weekend (June 17 – 19). SITW 2022 celebrated art, culture and music with performances by Calvin Harris, Chloe x Halle, Dave Matthews Band, Lil Baby, Lil Uzi Vert, Pharrell & Phriends, Pusha T, Tyler, The Creator, 21 Savage and more. Pharrell excels as a fashion designer and entrepreneur with his Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream apparel brands, Bionic Yarn, Adidas, Chanel, and Richard Mille. In the fall of 2019, Williams teamed up with David Grutman and opened both Swan and Bar Bevy in Miami’s Design District, and The Goodtime Hotel in 2021. In 2020, Pharrell founded Humanrace™ with a mission to empower all individuals in their pursuit of wellbeing across product and people.
Ryan Shadrick Wilson
Throughout a career that has spanned law, civil rights, public policy, philanthropy, business, and finance, Ryan has maintained a devotion to creating a healthier, happier, and more equitable future. Today, Ryan wears several hats. She is the founder and CEO of Boardwalk Collective, an advisory and investment firm. She is the Chairperson of Territory Foods, a healthy meal delivery food tech company. And, she serves on the Board of Directors of public company Acon S2—a sustainability-focused special purpose acquisition company. Ryan has often been referred to as “the good food whisperer” for the quiet yet significant role she has played in launching many of the innovative ideas and companies shaping the food revolution. She founded Feeding Change at the Milken Institute—a global effort to catalyze a healthier food system focusing on the finance community. And, she serves on the advisory boards of numerous companies, including Instacart, Benson Hill, Brightseed, Upside Foods, Apeel Sciences, Voyage Foods, and Perfect Day, as well as several nonprofit organization advisory boards, including Feeding America, Food for Climate League, ReFed, and Yellow—the new foundation founded by Pharrell Williams. Previously, Ryan served as Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel of Partnership for a Healthier America, Michelle Obama’s health and wellness initiative. Prior to that, Ryan practiced law for nearly a decade at international law firm Hogan Lovells, where she counseled food and agriculture companies around the globe, as well as their trade associations in Washington, D.C. While at the firm, she also maintained a commitment to a robust pro bono practice, handling civil rights, death penalty, and political asylum cases. Ryan graduated with honors from Princeton University and Harvard Law School.
Co-Founder and Chief Purpose Officer
Best-selling Author. Visionary Founder. Inspiring Keynote Speaker. Afdhel Aziz is on a mission to solve one of the biggest problems facing individuals and companies in the 21st century: how to find purpose and meaning in their work and unlock the enormous power of business to do good in the world. He is the Co-Founder and Chief Purpose Officer of Conspiracy of Love, a global purpose consultancy (and certified B Corp and Minority Owned Business) with Fortune 500 clients like Adidas, PepsiCo, Mondelez, Microsoft and more. He is also the Co-Founder of Good is the New Cool, a creative studio and content incubator focused on creating positive stories that fill the Hope Gap. Afdhel is the co-author of the best-selling books 'Good is the New Cool: Market Like You A Give a Damn', and the follow-up ‘The Principles of Purpose, as well as writing 'The Power Of Purpose' column in Forbes. He is also an internationally renowned keynote speaker who has been featured at the Cannes Lions, YPO, SXSW, Forbes CMO Summit, Advertising Week, Conscious Capitalism, and the Fast Company Innovation Festival. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and son.
Aaron Craig Mitchell
Aaron Craig Mitchell is an LA based Entrepreneur, Advisor, Coach, and Changemaker with nearly 20 years experience across various industries. He is currently in the process of building a Web3 business focused on connecting people to the vibrant culture of Salvador, Brazil in innovative ways. He was recently the Director of HR for Netflix Animation, one of the largest and fastest growing animation studios in history. An experienced business leader with a demonstrated history of executing change, Aaron has become globally recognized for his historic work pioneering Netflix’s 2% Cash Holdings Pledge of $100 Million into Black Owned Banks. This initiative anchored a movement for financial equity & inclusion and opened doors for marginalized communities to flourish. His work has led to features in The New York Times, CNBC, and Wired. Born in New Haven, CT, he earned his MBA from Harvard Business School, and BBA from Temple University. He resides in LA with his wife and two daughters.
Artist/Entrepreneur/Founder of Heir Wave Music Group
Felecia is the CEO of Pharrell William’s Black Ambition Opportunity Fund which invests in diverse entrepreneurs with capital, mentorship and uninterrupted access to resources and opportunities. Through her work over the past 8 years, she has helped entrepreneurs connect to over 100M in funding by shaping the way individuals show up, are valued, and financially benefit from playing full out in the innovation economy. Hatcher’s transformational work has been honored as a 2014 Obama White House Champion of Change for STEM Access and Diversity, Harvard Young American Leader, 2017 Comcast/Nationswell Tech Impact Allstar, Echoing Green Fellow, BME Vanguard Fellow, a Black Enterprise 2017 TechConnect Game Changer, and 2016 Innovator of the Week, Essence Magazine Tech Master. She has also been featured on the Today Show, Forbes, Bloomberg, MSNBC, and Grio’s 100 African Americans Making History. Supporters of her work include Knight Foundation, Comcast/NBC Universal, Morgan Stanley, Chanel, Adidas, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Ford, and others. Prior to Black Ambition, Felecia Co-Founded Black Tech Week conference and The Center for Black Innovation. Felecia’s expansive corporate career includes roles as a marketing executive for the Minnesota Lynx/Timberwolves, and as an experiential marketing/brand manager for Sony, Nintendo, and McKee Foods. Hatcher currently serves on the Amazon Black Business Accelerator Advisory Board a 150M initiative to support Black Businesses, SXSW Diversity Advisory Board, Beacon Council Board member, Center for Black Innovation, and Airie Foundation. Hatcher's work in building inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems has been featured in two Harvard Business School case studies. In her work as a consultant and transformation speaker companies like, Amazon, Google, Spotify, Door Dash, Target, Samsung, Walmart, and Etsy call on Felecia to help shape their inclusive innovation, business strategies and empower their teams to step into their Zone of Genius. Hatcher is the author of 5 Books/Publications: Genius Jam, Start a Business on a Ramen Noodle Budget(Petersons), "Focused", Pivot, Pitch and Paid and "The C Students Guide to scholarships” (Petersons). White Papers: • The Deficit framing of Black Entrepreneurs in Media, Corporations, and Foundations. • Ridding Black Communities of Innovation Deserts • Frameworks for Defining, Assessing and Developing Black Tech and Startup Communities
Lisa Osborne Ross
U.S. Chief Executive Officer
Lisa Osborne Ross serves as Edelman’s U.S. Chief Executive Officer. In this role, she has cemented new efforts on cultural relevance, creativity, and solutions integration for the firm. A career-long advocate for workplace representation, equity, and inclusion, she is known as an in-demand counselor to CEOs and other senior executives at Fortune 500, higher education, and government institutions. Under Ms. Ross’ leadership, Edelman launched its racial justice task force in 2020, fortifying its US Multicultural practice to help brands and corporations solve for all aspects of equity and representation in their organizations and within their marketing efforts. Within this umbrella, Edelman has expanded its creative remit and won awards for work resulting in structural change – such as Good Humor’s work to remove a racist jingle from its ice cream trucks and Dove Men + Care’s work to advocate for paid paternity leave. On behalf of the firm, she has spearheaded a number of partnerships in the equity and representation space resulting in award-winning creative work, including with the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation on the importance of Black mental health. She has been named to PRWeek’s Power List (2022 and 2021), Ad Age’s DEI Champion of the Year (2021), Washington Business Journal CEO of the Year: DE&I Champion (2021), PRWeek Agency Professional of the Year (2021), and Savoy Magazine’s Most Influential Women in Corporate America (2019).
Global Head for Inclusion and Diversity
Annie Wu is the Global Head for Inclusion and Diversity for H&M Group, which covers all the 8 brands under the H&M Group umbrella. As the Global Head for Inclusion and Diversity for the Group that covers 8 brands, Annie’s responsibilities are to be a catalyst for an internal change journey, and to reinforce H&M Group ́s way of ensuring inclusion and diversity is embedded in the culture and values of all the different brands. During her time as Global Head for I&D, Annie Wu has with her determination and hard work been able set a clear group strategy for Inclusion and Diversity with the aim to position H&M Group as leading force in this topic for the retail industry. She has conducted over 70 awareness workshops for the entire H&M Group management (1200 people) including the CEO and his executive management team. These workshops allow leaders to understand the topic, reflect on their own biases, and then design realistic solutions for their everyday work with their teams. She has also pulled together a truly cross functional team with leaders from across the organization that help drive I&D through Sustainability, Communications/Marketing and Human Resources. She leads her team with an open and transparent attitude that reflects the whole mindset of H&M Group’s work within I&D. This mentality is also reflected in the several interviews and panel discussions that Annie has participated in during the last year, in her mission to emphasize the importance of inclusion and equality for all.
DJ BEE aka BEESUS, dad, pop pop, husband and DJ is a native of Philly the city known for Ill DJ’s, its love of music and cheesesteaks. An accomplished turntablist, DJ Bee has been behind the 1200’s and on your airwaves for over 25 years. For 25 years you could hear DJ Bee on your airwaves on 103 Jamz WOWI in Norfolk, VA, now you can catch him spinning live on Fresh Radio and Twitch TV. On October 10, 2010 DJ Bee launched Fresh Radio (itsfreshradio.com). Fresh Radio is an International Internet based radio station that plays classic and progressive, hip-hop, R&B, Soul, House, Reggae and mix-shows from DJs and turntablist around the world 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Mon – Friday from 8am to 10am you can hear DJ Bee mix live on the Fresh Start Morning Show. Fresh Radio is celebrating their 12th Birthday 10/10/2022. In January 2019 DJ Bee opened Freshtopia VA “ The Place Where We Dwell” a record store and music apparel store located in the Park Place section of Norfolk, VA. Freshtopia is 1 of 30 Black owned record stores in the country. DJ Bee is also a Board member of F.A.M.S. (Forever a Music Store) Black owned record store coalition. Every Saturday you can catch Bee leading a group of bike riders on the Live Life Fresh Wellness Boom Box Bike Ride, a 10 mile casual cruise through the streets of Norfolk using the Elizabeth River Trails and the bike lanes.
I'm bringing people from around the country and the world to meet here. These are people who’ve played a role in their own cities to give us some advice on what worked and what didn’t. To help us bring out the best and share back around the country.Pharrell