February 21st Issue Forum: Steady Forward

Posted in Announcements

On March 21, 2024, CPNL hosted a panel of dynamic leaders at the forefront of racial justice and civil rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and equitable inclusion in high-tech. Hear their perspectives on the importance of values-rooted leadership, crafting a compelling narrative, and playing the long game with short term gains. Learn how your strategic leadership can drive positive change in our communities and beyond.

Cedric Brown is a Visiting Practitioner at the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership. Cedric is an award-winning leader for social justice, with 20+ years of deep and varied experience in philanthropy and nonprofits. He has a significant track record of working to ensure pathways to opportunities for people of color in the U.S. through tech sector inclusion, college readiness, arts/cultural representation, and voter education/civic engagement. Cedric has an extensive history as a funder, directing a California-based family foundation for over a decade. During this time, he was an active and dedicated advisor and board member to numerous local and regional nonprofits, affinity groups, and projects. Most recently, Cedric managed global leadership programs for the Obama Foundation, where he designed and launched two initiatives in direct consultation with the former president. He currently serves on the boards of the Panta Rhea Foundation, TheGuardian.org, and Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity. Cedric holds a Masters in Education Policy from Stanford University and earned an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership. He recently launched Blue Skies Advising, a consultancy offering high quality program development for philanthropy and nonprofits.

Ann Beeson is an experienced civil rights lawyer, nonprofit CEO and philanthropy executive, embracing a wide range of innovative strategies to transform institutions and promote social change. Most recently she served as the Chief Program Officer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she oversaw programs to dismantle white supremacy, fight racism and advance learning for justice in schools and communities. Beeson has argued twice before the U.S. Supreme Court, litigated numerous landmark cases around the country and founded groundbreaking programs to stop the erosion of civil and human rights. Before joining the SPLC, she served as CEO of Every Texan, the leading social justice think tank and public policy organization in Texas. Beeson was previously the Executive Director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundations, where she oversaw the distribution of over $150 million in annual grants to promote human rights, justice and accountability nationwide. She began her career at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she ultimately served as Associate Legal Director of its National Legal Department.

Okong’o Kinyanjui is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Queer African Network (QAN), a mobile application designed to ensure that every LGBTQ+ person of African heritage, both on the continent and in the diaspora, has access to the resources and meaningful connections they need to thrive. He has built a comprehensive digital platform and information hub that globally crowdsources opportunities, transnational alliances, and affirming content for LGBTQ+ persons of African heritage.  QAN has helped members secure jobs, host gatherings, access technology sponsorships, find experts and more.Okong’o’s work on QAN has garnered diverse support, notably from Echoing Green and Numun, recognition from the Obama Africa Leaders Program and United Nations NGO Committee on the Status of Women. His TED Talk on the subject has amassed over 1.4 million views. By enabling his community to gather safely in community, Okong’o has created a space that fosters a radical reimagining of a future beyond crisis and negotiating their existence.

One of Silicon Valley’s leading advocates for fairness and ethics, Ellen Pao is also a long-time entrepreneur and tech investor. Her landmark gender discrimination case against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins sparked other women to fight harassment and discrimination in what’s been called the “Pao Effect.” Currently, Ellen is CEO of nonprofit Project Include, which uses data-based, practical solutions and recommendations to give everyone a fair chance to succeed. At reddit, she was the first major social platform CEO to ban revenge porn, unauthorized nude photos, and cross-platform harassment. Ellen has written and spoken extensively, including in The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, Recode, and WIRED. Her book “Reset” recounts her long-time advocacy of diversity and inclusion and her own experiences with discrimination.