Autumn Merritt Believing a brand's story is its strongest asset, Autumn Merritt is a person that loves connecting consumers to brands in an engaging way. Strategically, she has utilized her marketing and creative expertise to establish Sir & Madame, a Chicago based boutique and lifestyle label, as a respected international brand. She is also a wife a mother of two.

Autumn Merritt

Believing a brand's story is its strongest asset, Autumn Merritt is a person that loves connecting consumers to brands in an engaging way.

Strategically, she has utilized her marketing and creative expertise to establish Sir & Madame, a Chicago based boutique and lifestyle label, as a respected international brand.

She is also a wife a mother of two.

Kyra Kyles Kyra Kyles is the former Editor-in-Chief at Ebony.  This award-winning multimedia journalist, TV personality, content producer and humor writer originally joined the iconic brand in 2011.  Among her accolades, she has been named to the Folio magazine Top 100 media executives, WVON and Ariel Capital’s “Top 40 Under 40 Game Changers” and Chicago Defender’s “40 Under 40 to Watch” lists. This advocate for media diversity speaks on that very topic for international conferences including Social Media Week, Digital Strategy Innovation and the A3C Music Conference.  Kyra is immediate past President of the National Association of Black Journalists-Chicago chapter and a proud alum of the esteemed Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.

Kyra Kyles

Kyra Kyles is the former Editor-in-Chief at Ebony. 

This award-winning multimedia journalist, TV personality, content producer and humor writer originally joined the iconic brand in 2011.  Among her accolades, she has been named to the Folio magazine Top 100 media executives, WVON and Ariel Capital’s “Top 40 Under 40 Game Changers” and Chicago Defender’s “40 Under 40 to Watch” lists.

This advocate for media diversity speaks on that very topic for international conferences including Social Media Week, Digital Strategy Innovation and the A3C Music Conference.  Kyra is immediate past President of the National Association of Black Journalists-Chicago chapter and a proud alum of the esteemed Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.

Lena Waithe   Hailing from Chicago’s South Side, writer, producer, and actor Lena Waithe is currently at the helm of Showtime’s new drama series THE CHI.  Waithe got her start working alongside Mara Brock-Akil, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Ava Duvernay on various projects. She was also just named one of The Hollywood Reporters’ Fall 2015 Ten TV Breakout Stars for her role on Netflix’s award-winning MASTER OF NONE, and was named as one of Variety’s 2014 “Top 10 Comics to Watch.” Waithe produced the Sundance darling DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, and is set to produce Broad Green's upbeat comedy, STEP SISTERS, along with Matt Alvarez and Benjamin Cory Jones. She also has a half-hour comedic pilot in development. 

Lena Waithe
 

Hailing from Chicago’s South Side, writer, producer, and actor Lena Waithe is currently at the helm of Showtime’s new drama series THE CHI. 

Waithe got her start working alongside Mara Brock-Akil, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Ava Duvernay on various projects. She was also just named one of The Hollywood Reporters’ Fall 2015 Ten TV Breakout Stars for her role on Netflix’s award-winning MASTER OF NONE, and was named as one of Variety’s 2014 “Top 10 Comics to Watch.”

Waithe produced the Sundance darling DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, and is set to produce Broad Green's upbeat comedy, STEP SISTERS, along with Matt Alvarez and Benjamin Cory Jones. She also has a half-hour comedic pilot in development. 

 
Necole Kane Necole is a former celebrity gossip blogger turned fitness, wellness and travel enthusiast. As the creator of NecoleBitchie.com, Necole amassed over 800 million page views, and jetsetted around the world for seven days with Rihanna, as well as won numerous awards and features in magazines such as Cosmo, The Baltimore Sun, and Ebony. Inspired to leave the superficial, tea-spilling world of celeb scoops, Necole broke out of her comfort zone to find more balance, creating a multidimensional lifestyle and empowerment platform for other women to do the very same. She is now the EIC of xoNecole.com. The site features tips and articles so that her followers can be empowered to be the best versions of themselves.

Necole Kane

Necole is a former celebrity gossip blogger turned fitness, wellness and travel enthusiast. As the creator of NecoleBitchie.com, Necole amassed over 800 million page views, and jetsetted around the world for seven days with Rihanna, as well as won numerous awards and features in magazines such as Cosmo, The Baltimore Sun, and Ebony.

Inspired to leave the superficial, tea-spilling world of celeb scoops, Necole broke out of her comfort zone to find more balance, creating a multidimensional lifestyle and empowerment platform for other women to do the very same. She is now the EIC of xoNecole.com. The site features tips and articles so that her followers can be empowered to be the best versions of themselves.

Zim Ugochukwu After cloning a gene at the age of 19 & becoming the youngest appointed precinct judge for North Carolina, this ambitious entrepreneur decided to step from behind her white coat to explore the world. Travel Noire was founded with one goal in mind: to make international travel more inclusive and representative for explorers of color. By circumventing traditional channels, crafting original, authentic content, building digital communities and artisanal international experiences, Travel Noire is reframing the story of the international traveler. With explosive growth since it's inception three years ago, Travel Noire has sold out of every product they've brought to market, building a legion of loyal customers along the way.  Zim has been featured in the New York Times, Ebony, among others, and was honored by Oprah in SuperSoul 100, a collection of leaders using their talents to elevate humanity.

Zim Ugochukwu

After cloning a gene at the age of 19 & becoming the youngest appointed precinct judge for North Carolina, this ambitious entrepreneur decided to step from behind her white coat to explore the world.

Travel Noire was founded with one goal in mind: to make international travel more inclusive and representative for explorers of color. By circumventing traditional channels, crafting original, authentic content, building digital communities and artisanal international experiences, Travel Noire is reframing the story of the international traveler.


With explosive growth since it's inception three years ago, Travel Noire has sold out of every product they've brought to market, building a legion of loyal customers along the way.  Zim has been featured in the New York Times, Ebony, among others, and was honored by Oprah in SuperSoul 100, a collection of leaders using their talents to elevate humanity.

Alex Wolf Named as one of the “Top 100 Most Creative People In Business” by Fast Company Magazine, Alexandra Wolf is reminding us what it means to live a meaningful life in the new digital world via her website and podcast. She's been featured in Forbes, Inc. Magazine and Adweek magazine listed her as a “Top 20 Influencer Who Radiates Creativity & Gets Everyone Talking”.

Alex Wolf

Named as one of the “Top 100 Most Creative People In Business” by Fast Company Magazine, Alexandra Wolf is reminding us what it means to live a meaningful life in the new digital world via her website and podcast.

She's been featured in Forbes, Inc. Magazine and Adweek magazine listed her as a “Top 20 Influencer Who Radiates Creativity & Gets Everyone Talking”.

 
Erika Bennett Erika is a senior vice president of Allied Moxy, a division of Allied Integrated Marketing, dedicated to developing and executing campaigns that celebrate the full diversity of multicultural consumers. Under her leadership at Moxy, she has shepherded the division to unprecedented growth and her career successes include delivering record-breaking results for successes such as ABC’s “black-ish”, Netflix and Marvel’s “Luke Cage” and theatrical phenoms, HIDDEN FIGURES, FENCES and STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON. She remains committed to re-writing the marketing playbook by driving innovation and expanding division work outside of traditional marketing to include content creation, digital, influencer marketing and social.

Erika Bennett

Erika is a senior vice president of Allied Moxy, a division of Allied Integrated Marketing, dedicated to developing and executing campaigns that celebrate the full diversity of multicultural consumers.

Under her leadership at Moxy, she has shepherded the division to unprecedented growth and her career successes include delivering record-breaking results for successes such as ABC’s “black-ish”, Netflix and Marvel’s “Luke Cage” and theatrical phenoms, HIDDEN FIGURES, FENCES and STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON.

She remains committed to re-writing the marketing playbook by driving innovation and expanding division work outside of traditional marketing to include content creation, digital, influencer marketing and social.

Nikisha Brunson Born in Toronto, Canada, Nikisha moved to Brooklyn, New York at age 3. She was in Brooklyn for 27 years, a stop in Virginia before landing in Austin, Texas. A single mom for 11 years before marriage, she has a 16 year old son that she had when she was just 17 years old. Holding a Masters degree in childhood education, Nikisha use to teach in NYC and in Virginia. Co-founder of Urban Bush Babes and owner of an all natural skincare line called “Folie”, where all items are handcrafted in small batches.  Her journey with anxiety, depression, ADHD, and spreading holistic knowledge within the minority communities are what drives her passions.

Nikisha Brunson

Born in Toronto, Canada, Nikisha moved to Brooklyn, New York at age 3. She was in Brooklyn for 27 years, a stop in Virginia before landing in Austin, Texas.

A single mom for 11 years before marriage, she has a 16 year old son that she had when she was just 17 years old. Holding a Masters degree in childhood education, Nikisha use to teach in NYC and in Virginia.

Co-founder of Urban Bush Babes and owner of an all natural skincare line called “Folie”, where all items are handcrafted in small batches. 

Her journey with anxiety, depression, ADHD, and spreading holistic knowledge within the minority communities are what drives her passions.

Darian Symoné Harvin Darian Symoné is a journalist, news curator, and host of the 'Am I Allowed To Like Anything?' podcast and Editor on BuzzFeed News' Curation Team. Darian created The Seam as a launching pad to execute her projects. She graduated from Emerson College in 2013 with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism, and her first job was at Dateline NBC as a Program Coordinator. She later became Managing Producer of HRDCVR, a culture magazine that embraced the multi-stream and diverse, big voices and communities. She also previously worked on Yahoo's New Digest mobile app.

Darian Symoné Harvin

Darian Symoné is a journalist, news curator, and host of the 'Am I Allowed To Like Anything?' podcast and Editor on BuzzFeed News' Curation Team.

Darian created The Seam as a launching pad to execute her projects. She graduated from Emerson College in 2013 with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism, and her first job was at Dateline NBC as a Program Coordinator.

She later became Managing Producer of HRDCVR, a culture magazine that embraced the multi-stream and diverse, big voices and communities. She also previously worked on Yahoo's New Digest mobile app.

 
Luvvie Ajayi Luvvie Ajayi is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and digital strategist who thrives at the intersection of comedy, technology and activism. A thirteen-year blogging veteran, she is the voice behind Awesomely Luvvie, a widely-respected humor blog that covers everything pop culture – from TV, movies and technology to travel, race and life’s random adventures. It was her blog that inspired Luvvie’s debut book, I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual, which became a New York Times bestseller. The drive to leave the world better than she found it is the foundation of her work with The Red Pump Project. In 2009, she partnered to create The Red Pump Project, a nonprofit that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.

Luvvie Ajayi

Luvvie Ajayi is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and digital strategist who thrives at the intersection of comedy, technology and activism.

A thirteen-year blogging veteran, she is the voice behind Awesomely Luvvie, a widely-respected humor blog that covers everything pop culture – from TV, movies and technology to travel, race and life’s random adventures.

It was her blog that inspired Luvvie’s debut book, I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual, which became a New York Times bestseller.

The drive to leave the world better than she found it is the foundation of her work with The Red Pump Project. In 2009, she partnered to create The Red Pump Project, a nonprofit that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.

  Ronnie Dickerson Stewart Ronnie Dickerson Stewart is Vice President Group Director of Talent Engagement & Inclusion at DigitasLBi. As DigitasLBi’s North American Diversity and Inclusion leader, she has been the architect of the agency’s inclusion strategy. In her day-to-day work she’s creating and executing against an inclusion framework for the agency’s business, talent and culture. Her most cherished roles are wife to Christopher, and #MamaBear to her son, Carter! When she isn’t working, wife-ing or mom-ing, she’s helping others navigate the ad and tech industries, or their careers as a certified Career Management and Executive Leadership Coach via her consultancy The Dickerson Stewart Group

 

Ronnie Dickerson Stewart

Ronnie Dickerson Stewart is Vice President Group Director of Talent Engagement & Inclusion at DigitasLBi.

As DigitasLBi’s North American Diversity and Inclusion leader, she has been the architect of the agency’s inclusion strategy. In her day-to-day work she’s creating and executing against an inclusion framework for the agency’s business, talent and culture.

Her most cherished roles are wife to Christopher, and #MamaBear to her son, Carter!

When she isn’t working, wife-ing or mom-ing, she’s helping others navigate the ad and tech industries, or their careers as a certified Career Management and Executive Leadership Coach via her consultancy The Dickerson Stewart Group

Brienna LaCoste Brienna LaCoste is an Account Executive with multicultural marketing agency, Flowers Communications Group (FCG), in Chicago. She primarily supports the AT&T and Honda businesses. Her roles include media relations, content creation and strategy, social media management, agency marketing and influencer engagement, to name a few. Brienna’s background includes a mix of journalism, consumer, cause and social media marketing.  A love for storytelling has always driven Brienna’s education and professional career. She received her B.S. in Journalism (Strategic Communications) from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 2014.   Brienna is a huge fan of music and enjoys attending live concerts. She also enjoys working with Chicago’s youth, writing, traveling and dance.

Brienna LaCoste

Brienna LaCoste is an Account Executive with multicultural marketing agency, Flowers Communications Group (FCG), in Chicago. She primarily supports the AT&T and Honda businesses. Her roles include media relations, content creation and strategy, social media management, agency marketing and influencer engagement, to name a few.


Brienna’s background includes a mix of journalism, consumer, cause and social media marketing.  A love for storytelling has always driven Brienna’s education and professional career. She received her B.S. in Journalism (Strategic Communications) from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 2014.
 

Brienna is a huge fan of music and enjoys attending live concerts. She also enjoys working with Chicago’s youth, writing, traveling and dance.

Danielle Leslie Danielle is the Founder of Culture Add Labs, a boutique consultancy and agency that helps clients uncover their ‘culture add’ and launch profitable products online. She’s been an online marketer in Silicon Valley for 10+ years and created 4 online courses that have over 50,000 people enrolled worldwide. She coaches influencers & entrepreneurs through her #CourseFromScratch program—an 8-week online accelerator for creating & launching your online course. Danielle’s clients include Travel Noire, Ford, Sean Anderson Foundation, Kapor Center, & CODE2040. She shamelessly consumes webinars and audio books and is obsessed with Hallmark Signature cards. Danielle lives in Oakland, CA.

Danielle Leslie

Danielle is the Founder of Culture Add Labs, a boutique consultancy and agency that helps clients uncover their ‘culture add’ and launch profitable products online.

She’s been an online marketer in Silicon Valley for 10+ years and created 4 online courses that have over 50,000 people enrolled worldwide. She coaches influencers & entrepreneurs through her #CourseFromScratch program—an 8-week online accelerator for creating & launching your online course.

Danielle’s clients include Travel Noire, Ford, Sean Anderson Foundation, Kapor Center, & CODE2040. She shamelessly consumes webinars and audio books and is obsessed with Hallmark Signature cards. Danielle lives in Oakland, CA.

Bärí A. Williams Bärí A. Williams, Esq. is Head of Business Operations Management, North America at StubHub. She is responsible for business planning and operations to manage and oversee technical metrics, product innovation, and partnerships to drive P&L results across the company.   Prior to StubHub, Bärí was a commercial attorney at Facebook supporting internet.org connectivity efforts, building aircrafts, satellites, and lasers, and procurement. She also took on the passion project of developing strategy and creating Facebook’s Supplier Diversity Program, announced at White House Demo Day, and officially launched at NMSDC in October 2016, and served on Facebook’s Black Employee Resource Group leadership team.

Bärí A. Williams

Bärí A. Williams, Esq. is Head of Business Operations Management, North America at StubHub. She is responsible for business planning and operations to manage and oversee technical metrics, product innovation, and partnerships to drive P&L results across the company.  

Prior to StubHub, Bärí was a commercial attorney at Facebook supporting internet.org connectivity efforts, building aircrafts, satellites, and lasers, and procurement.

She also took on the passion project of developing strategy and creating Facebook’s Supplier Diversity Program, announced at White House Demo Day, and officially launched at NMSDC in October 2016, and served on Facebook’s Black Employee Resource Group leadership team.

Lilly Workneh Lilly Workneh is HuffPost’s Black Voices Senior Editor where she explores issues that reflect and affect the black community. She oversees and manages all of Black Voices' editorial, social and video coverage, which touch on topics relevant to black families and communities of color. Prior to joining HuffPost, Workneh was the Lifestyle News Editor at MSNBC's TheGrio.com. She has appeared on MSNBC and her work has been featured on CNN, NBC, People.com and elsewhere. She is committed to addressing the complexities of race and uplifting the contributions of women of color as well as amplifying both the black experience and black excellence.

Lilly Workneh

Lilly Workneh is HuffPost’s Black Voices Senior Editor where she explores issues that reflect and affect the black community. She oversees and manages all of Black Voices' editorial, social and video coverage, which touch on topics relevant to black families and communities of color.

Prior to joining HuffPost, Workneh was the Lifestyle News Editor at MSNBC's TheGrio.com. She has appeared on MSNBC and her work has been featured on CNN, NBC, People.com and elsewhere. She is committed to addressing the complexities of race and uplifting the contributions of women of color as well as amplifying both the black experience and black excellence.