ELC Members Join Panel on Executive Leadership at the 2016 ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans


July 6th, 2016


Members of The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) were among the more than 450,000 attendees at the annual ESSENCE Festival on July 2, where they shared their experiences and provided advice for global black leadership success. Before an audience of more than 7,000 people on the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience stage, ELC members Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente; Deborah Elam, President at the GE Foundation and Chief Diversity Officer at GE; and Kimberly Blackwell, CEO of the PMM Agency, joined Pamela Carlton, President of Springboard - Partners in Cross Cultural Leadership, and Moderator Ellen McGirt of Fortune magazine to discuss the black CEO experience and black women executives in leadership. To read McGirt’s detailed summary of the panel in her raceAhead Blog on Fortune.com please click here.

McGirt is an award-winning journalist who covers race, culture and leadership for Fortune. She led the conversation which revealed the results of The ELC’s new research study entitled Black Women Executives Research Initiative Revisited in collaboration with Springboard-Partners for Cross-Cultural Leadership. The study offers an insightful perspective on the challenges and opportunities for black women executives in reaching the C-Suite. The study builds on the findings from the groundbreaking research study The ELC and Springboard released in 2008. Please click here to read an executive summary of The ELC’s newly released black women executives research study.

The ELC panel was strategically positioned to follow a conversation between Soledad O'Brien and American Ballet Theater Principal Dancer Misty Copeland, and a keynote by Rev. Al Sharpton, and was immediately followed by Oprah Winfrey. The ELC panelists dubbed themselves as the “opening act for Oprah.” Oprah invited film director Ava Duvernay to the stage and introduced the cast from the upcoming series “Queen Sugar” on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

Meanwhile, on the Money & Power stage, Immediate Past ELC Board Chair Carla Harris, Vice Chair of Morgan Stanley, spoke to her audience about the power of networking and the currency of relationships. She encouraged the audience to do more than just collect and distribute business cards – to follow up and actually call people, to meet with them and to ask for help, which most leaders are willing to give.

ESSENCE Festival, the annual cultural celebration featuring more than 100 performing artists and over 100 speakers, included first-time appearances by Oprah Winfrey and Misty Copeland. Recognized as one of the country’s largest live events, the 2016 ESSENCE Festival hosted more celebrities and performing talent than ever before, extended its reach worldwide by capturing a record-breaking 3.5 billion social media impressions and delivered over 100 hours of curated video and live-stream content.

(L:R) Pamela Carlton, President, Springboard - Partners in Cross Cultural Leadership; ELC member and Past ELC Board Chair Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman & CEO, Kaiser Permanente; Moderator Ellen McGirt, Fortune magazine; ELC members Deborah Elam, President, GE Foundation & Chief Diversity Officer, GE; and Kimberly Blackwell, CEO, PMM Agency.

Pamela Carlton and Ellen McGirt discuss the black CEO experience and black women executives in leadership with ELC members Bernard J. Tyson, Deborah Elam and Kimberly Blackwell.

ELC Immediate Past Board Chair Carla Harris, Vice Chair of Morgan Stanley, speaking on the Money & Power stage at the ESSENCE Festival.

Ava Duvernay and Oprah Winfrey at Essence Festival discussing the upcoming series “Queen Sugar” on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.



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