MEET THE SPEAKERS
A Virtual Interactive Summit
FEBRUARY IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN THE US
Black History: Peril or Promise?
Thursday, February 1, 2024
FREE & OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC WORLDWIDE
4pm GMT • 11am EST • 10am CST • 9am MST • 8am PST
Black History IS American History
KEYNOTE SPEAKER & PANEL MODERATOR
Hilina D. Ajakaiye
Executive Vice President, Meet Boston
Introducing Hilina D. Ajakaiye, an accomplished and dedicated Executive Vice President at Meet Boston, leveraging over 15 years of expertise in sales, marketing, and operations, accompanied by a global perspective. Originally hailing from Ethiopia, Hilina immigrated to the United States in 1987, mastering English as her second language and achieving her high school diploma and associate degree concurrently at the young age of 17.
Her educational journey extended to the University of Massachusetts, where she pursued her undergraduate studies, and in 2017, she attained her MBA in International Marketing Management from Northeastern University. In her pivotal role at Meet Boston, Hilina leads a variety of initiatives to expand Boston's tourism and hospitality industry. Her responsibilities encompass diverse areas, including human resources, membership development, financial strategy, leisure destination services, marketing and operations, and revenue generation.
Prior to her role at Meet Boston, Hilina accumulated over 15 years of invaluable experience at Ahold Delhaize, a prominent international grocery retail giant. Managing 150+ direct reports across 22 stores, she led a team of 3,600+ employees and oversaw an annual revenue budget of $805 million. Her exceptional leadership skills earned national recognition, solidifying her position as a trailblazer in the industry.
Beyond her professional achievements, Hilina is deeply committed to initiatives promoting women's empowerment, particularly in underserved communities. She actively serves on prestigious boards, including her role as Chair of The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, The Network of Executive Women (NEW), Big Brothers Big Sisters, Progreso Latino, and the Woodward School for Girls. Currently, she co-chairs the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee for Destination International. Her contributions have garnered widespread acclaim, leading to her induction into the Big Brothers Big Sisters "People We Admire" program and the honor of being named the 2019 "Rhode Islander of the Year" by Rhode Island Monthly for founding the R.I.S.E. Women's Leadership Conference.
Outside her professional commitments, Hilina treasures moments with her husband and two children and indulges in her passion for travel. She actively engages with community-driven organizations such as Boston NBC and Telemundo Community Council, The Boston Arts Academy Foundation, and Save the Harbor. Her current initiatives at Meet Boston focus on workforce development, supplier diversity, partnership branding, diversity, equity, inclusion, and sustainability.
Catherine LeBlanc is a Business and Education Consultant who has worked with businesses, universities, and other organizations in the areas of leadership development and diversity. Her multifaceted career includes work in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.
Catherine spent fifteen years in the private sector at the General Electric Company and Scientific Atlanta. She developed and honed operational, marketing, and people management skills at those companies.
She transferred these and other skills, experience, and talent to the nonprofit sector. Catherine held senior administrative positions with the Atlanta Public Schools and the Clark Atlanta University School of Business.
She was primarily responsible for creating and sustaining corporate, foundation, and other partnerships at both organizations. She utilized skills in writing, pitching, and positioning to win major grants for the school system and very competitive awards for the University's business school.
Catherine served in the public sector at the federal level in both terms of the Clinton Administration. She began her tenure in White House Personnel, where she assisted in the political appointment process and learned how to adjust to continuous, rapid change.
She was subsequently appointed as Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and worked for the U. S. Secretary of Education. In this position, she led government efforts to increase federal and private funding to these institutions. She created partnerships between her office and 26 federal agencies - ranging from the Departments of Defense and Energy to the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.
A longtime member of the National Black MBA Association, Catherine co-created the organization's Leadership Institute and has consulted with them on the design and implementation of leadership and career development activities for its members and the 10,000+ participants at its national conference. An influential writer, she co-authored the history of the organization: The National Black MBA Association, Celebrating a Legacy, Empowering the Future.
Catherine earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School and her undergraduate degree from Duke University. For accomplishments in supporting HBCUs, she was awarded Honorary Doctorate degrees from Tennessee's Lane College; North Carolina's Fayetteville State University and Bennett College; Georgia's Ft. Valley State University; Mississippi's Toogaloo College; and South Carolina's Voorhees College - all HBCUs.
The recipient of many awards for her professional and civic achievements, she has been honored by federal agencies, the Harvard Business School African American Alumni Association, the National Black MBA Association (all of their top leadership awards), and many other organizations.
She is the proud mother of three adult children and grandmother of three.
*Please note in respect to our Distinguished Speakers from the United Kingdom, some of the words spelled here are the correct spelling for those countries in the UK.
Jacy Stewart is a Social Impact and Investment Consultant and Investor passionate and committed to creating a more inclusive and diverse social impact and investment sector for Black and Racialised communities in the third sector.
For over 25 years, she has dedicated her career to supporting and connecting marginalised, overlooked, excluded and underrepresented communities to social impact and social financial intelligence within the third sector.
Jacy has worked for local, regional, national, and international enterprise and entrepreneurship social investment programmes that create jobs and better opportunities for oppressed communities.
With a Master's in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in Education and as a PhD Researcher (Candidate), she creates strategic partnerships with social impact investors, UK local authorities, enterprise delivery incubators and accelerator programmes, all to support the development of aspiring and existing social entrepreneurs.
Currently, Jacy is on several boards and is associated with several ED&I groups that seek to address the racial injustices within the Social Impact and Investment sector.
DR. J. KEITH MOTLEY
Dr. J. Keith Motley served as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston between 2007 and 2017. He is currently a faculty member at UMass Boston's College of Management. Previous to his appointment as chancellor, Motley served as Vice President for business, marketing, and public affairs at the University of Massachusetts President's Office, where he worked closely with President Jack M. Wilson, University Leaders, and the Board of Trustees. Prior to joining the President's Office, he was the Interim Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he previously had served as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, following more than 30 years in higher education administration that included 10 years as Dean of Student Services at Northeastern University.
Motley is a Founder of the Roxbury Preparatory Charter School and Chair Emeritus of the school's Board of Trustees. He is also the Founder and Education Chair of Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts, Inc., and the Paul Robeson Institute for Positive Self-Development, an academic and social enrichment program for school-aged children of color. He also serves on numerous boards of community organizations with local, regional, and national reach, including Carney Hospital (as Chair of the Board of Trustees), Freedom House, the Boston Foundation, the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, the Boston Sports Museum, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the Commonwealth Corporation, and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. Motley also chairs the Boston Committee for the "Do the Write Thing Challenge," an initiative of the National Campaign to Stop Violence.
Sharing his vast experience in educational leadership and administration, Motley is a past Chair of the Newbury College Board of Trustees. He was appointed as the Co-Chair of Success Boston, a college-completion initiative founded by former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. On a national level, he is a past chair of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and a mentor for its Millennium Leadership Initiative. This premier leadership development program provides individuals from underrepresented populations in high-ranking positions in higher education the opportunity to gain a broader understanding of the higher education landscape, develop skills, and build the networks needed to advance to the presidency. He also serves on the boards of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), and the American Council on Education (ACE). Chancellor Motley has served as a member of the ACE Commission on Effective Leadership as well as a past Chair of APLU's Commission on Access, Diversity, and Excellence (CADE).
Dr. Motley is a longtime supporter and sponsor of the Multicultural Symposium Series and the conference series that was launched in 2008. His support also included the creation of the US UK Summit on Race in 2021.
For the past five years, Motley has been named to the Boston Business Journal's "Power 50" list of Boston-area influencers. In 2016, he was named to the "Get Konnected! 100" list of Boston's 100 Most Influential People of Color. The Boston Business Journal also selected Dr. Motley as a recipient of its 2014 Leaders in Diversity Awards, which honor companies and businesspeople for their leadership in promoting inclusiveness and economic opportunity. In 2012, he was chosen by The Boston Globe as one of a dozen local leaders who have promoted diversity for its "Diversity Boston" list.
Motley is also a member of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Incorporated and Sigma Pi Phi fraternity Beta Beta Boulé.
Motley holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Northeastern University and a doctor of philosophy from Boston College. He also holds an honorary degree awarded by Northeastern University. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh's Upward Bound Program.
Motley is married to Angela Motley and is the proud father of Keith Allyn Motley, Jordan Kiara Motley, and the late Kayla Iman Motley.
Hard work and dedication to her multi-generational family and family business have always been Tracey Lynn Williams-Dillard's primary focus. As Publisher & CEO, Tracey is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder Newspaper and providing leadership direction to move the business forward. Tracey's vision, passion, and commitment to take the newspaper into the future are the main reasons that it continues to this day, more than eight decades since its founding. She has a solid understanding of the beliefs and values of her grandfather, the late Cecil E. Newman, who founded the newspaper in 1934, and she is committed to continuing his legacy.
Tracey began working at the paper early on, doing various odd jobs. Later, she worked as a receptionist and billing clerk and eventually moved on to advertising sales. In 1990, Tracey became an advertising representative and office manager. She later became the President and Chief Economic Officer of the 89-year-old weekly community newspaper. In 2006, she became its owner and CEO and is also the Spokesman-Recorder Nonprofit President.
In addition to her substantial workload at the paper, Tracey has served on several local boards such as the Boys and Girls Club, Minneapolis NAACP, Southside Community Collaborative, African American Aids Project, Twin Cities African American Leadership Forum, TPT Television, Sister Spokesman, and Global Women's Network. Tracey was the Vice President of the Minnesota Minority Media Coalition.
In 2006, Tracey started a women's group called "Sister Spokesman" that provides women of color a monthly opportunity to meet, network, learn from a wide range of guest speakers and expert panelists, and promote and support new women-owned business ventures. After 16 years, the group continues to grow, with a monthly attendance averaging 75-100 participants.
Previously, Tracey launched the Spokesman-Recorder's annual "Graduation Celebration: A Family Affair." This event includes a free banquet, inspirational speakers, and entertainment for graduating seniors of African and African American descent and their families. This event rewarded the community's youth and their families for reaching their educational milestones. It emphasized to the community the importance of education to the future of Black Americans. Thousands of young people and their families have benefited from this annual event, and hundreds of youth have received scholarships to continue their education.
Tracey has studied kickboxing as a hobby, is an avid movie watcher, and enjoys bowling, fishing, and playing cards. When she is not busy with all of these activities, she enjoys spending quality time with her daughter, grandchildren, and a myriad of friends at her home.
BILL WELLS, JR
Lead Program & Panel Organizer
Bill Wells is President, W. Wells & Associates, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy development. In his work, Additionally, Bill provides customized human capital and talent acquisition & retention solutions as well. Bill also works closely with senior leaders providing coaching and guidance during culture change and transformation.
Previously, Bill served as Vice President - Global Diversity/Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) for Traveler's Insurance. Earlier in his career, Bill held a variety of executive and general management level positions in both the telecommunications industry, including leadership roles in Human Resources, Information Technologies, Marketing, Operations, Strategic Planning, and Business Development.
Bill holds an MBA degree with a major in Marketing, a graduate certificate in Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Arts degree with a Psychology major. Bill is a life member of the National Black MBA Association, including former Chairman, and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Also, Bill is married, has two sons, two grandchildren, is a freelance writer, avid music-lover, jazz enthusiast, and enjoys golf.