NYC Summit: Advocating for Black Professionals

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BYP’s New York Leadership Summit 2023 held an informative session on “Breaking Barriers: Advocating for Black Professionals in Diverse Industries”. Speakers Caryn Campbell, Executive Director at Misty Copeland Foundation, and Kenneth Johnson, President & Diversity Consultant at East Coast Executives, spoke on the importance of advocating for Black professionals in various industries. 

Hosted by Rashad Chambers, this panel talk provided attendees with valuable insights on how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Here we will summarize the key takeaways from this session.

Challenges Faced by Black Professionals in Diverse Industries

The journey of Black professionals in diverse industries has been marked by unique challenges and significant progress. One individual who experienced this firsthand is Rashad, who relocated to New York. When he arrived, he noticed a striking absence of Black producers in the industry. However, through his unwavering determination and trailblazing spirit, Rashad became a catalyst for change.

As the first Black producer in New York, Rashad paved the way for future generations and shattered barriers that had long hindered the advancement of Black professionals. His mere presence in the industry challenged preconceived notions and opened doors for others who shared his passion and talent.


Solutions and Strategies for Breaking Barriers

Breaking barriers and dismantling obstacles requires a proactive and multi-faceted approach. One crucial strategy is to expand networks and create opportunities for those who may be unfamiliar with certain industries or underrepresented in positions of power. Actively seeking to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds and providing them with access to resources, knowledge, and opportunities, can foster a more inclusive and equitable environment.

Continuous learning and professional development are key components of overcoming barriers. By adopting a mindset of lifelong learning, individuals can stay ahead of industry trends, enhance their skills, and remain adaptable in a rapidly evolving landscape. It’s also essential to recognize and showcase your value. By consistently demonstrating your skills, expertise, and dedication, you can showcase the value you provide to your organization. 

Takeaways and Action Steps for Advocating for Black Professionals

Advocating for yourself requires resilience, perseverance. Believe in your abilities and the impact you can make, and remain focused on your professional development. 

Remember to show up for yourself and utilize all your gifts and available resources. Seek out help and guidance from individuals who are supportive and invested in your success. Building a strong network of allies and advocates can provide opportunities and create a sense of community.

Ultimately, creating a level playing field and fostering an inclusive environment requires organizational commitment. It should be a top-down strategy embedded in the mission and objectives of the company. 

Organizations need to prioritize diversity and inclusion and align their efforts with attracting and retaining diverse talent. By nurturing a workplace culture that celebrates diversity and promotes equity, organizations can create an environment where all professionals, including Black professionals, can thrive.

Watch the Talk Now

Watch more talks from the New York Leadership Summit on our Youtube channel.


Caryn Campbell, Executive Director at Misty Copeland Foundation

Caryn Campbell joined the Misty Copeland Foundation after an impressive tenure at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT). Before her time at AAADT, Caryn served as the Director of Development at the Storefront Academy of Harlem, where she successfully raised $5 million annually and implemented a strategic plan worth $1 million. 

As Executive Director of the Misty Copeland Foundation, collaborates with Misty Copeland and the MCF board on major policy and program decisions, and she leads the MCF’s professional team. Her responsibilities include the design and implementation of mechanisms to generate cash for the MCF’s rapid expansion of programs.

Kenneth Johnson, President & Diversity Consultant at East Coast Executives

Kenneth Johnson is the President and Diversity Consultant at East Coast Executives, a prominent Diversity Recruitment and Career Services Firm in the United States. Since its establishment in September 2001, the company has grown to become a leading choice for Fortune 500 and SMB clients, including Tiffany & Co, Pepsi, JP Morgan Chase, Vanguard, ALDI, The National Urban League, JOIN, University of Pennsylvania, and Disney. Kenneth is a respected member of the Forbes Coaches Council and has been recognized as a Forbes Coach. He has also served as a judge for the Diversity Value Index (DVI) and State of the Industry Report by Diversity Executive Magazine and The Human Capital Media Group in 2016, 2015, and 2014. 

Rashad Chambers, Founder and President at Esquire Entertainment

Rashad V. Chambers is a multi-talented individual, known for his accomplishments as a Tony Award-winning producer, talent manager, and lawyer. He is the esteemed Founder and President of Esquire Entertainment. Notably, Rashad recently produced the highly acclaimed musical “Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical” in its New York premiere. His impressive Broadway producing credits include renowned shows such as “American Son,” “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Betrayal,” “The Inheritance,” “Caroline, or Change,” “The Music Man,” “Topdog/Underdog,” and the Tony-nominated “Fat Ham.” Rashad is a founding member of The Industry Standard Group and serves as a board member for the On Broadway Performing Arts Training Program and Houses on the Moon Theater Company.

Want to hear from more trailblazers?

Join us at our flagship Leadership Conference this October! This year promises a stellar event with hundreds of in-person attendees and insightful talks and activities, themed around ‘Intentional Steps’. Find out more.

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