Creating Leaders for a Lifetime Alumni Showcase
Join A Better Chance From September 15 - October 13 for unique and engaging live online content from our most high-profile Alumni. During the events, panels of experts will convene to educate and entertain our community. Scroll below to learn more about each of the sessions and to join us!
Additional panelists and sessions will be added as they are announced.
Civil Rights & Engagement
September 22, 2020, 7:00 PM EST
Convening policy experts and thought leaders, this session will examine the state of American civil rights activism in 2020. As the nation continues to evolve through the work of Black Lives Matter and increased media and social media coverage of the deaths of Black Americans, our experts will give their insight on the impact and influence of these outlets. The discussion will focus on breaking down the implications of this unprecedented year, as well as provide insight on the future of powerful and sustainable activism.
Click here to watch a recording of the panel!
Debo P. Adegbile is a partner in WilmerHale’s Government and Regulatory Litigation group and Co-Chair of the firm’s Anti-discrimination practice. He has significant experience in commercial, government-facing, appellate and United States Supreme Court litigation, as well as in complex investigations and strategic counseling in high-stakes matters. His clients include corporations, trade associations, municipalities and agencies, colleges and universities and other not-for-profit institutions. Debo twice defended the constitutionality of two core provisions of the Voting Rights Act in oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court. Debo was part of the WilmerHale team that successfully defended Harvard University’s admissions policies against a federal challenge in SFFA v. Harvard University.
Sheria Smith is a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Education. In this role, she represents our country by enforcing Federal laws aimed at preventing discrimination based on race, sex, and disability in schools and other recipients of Department funding. A graduate of Harvard University, Sheria enrolled in Teach for America which reinforced her position that easy access to educational resources is critical for success. Her path led her to enroll in law school at University of Texas in 2007. She graduated and subsequently clerked for the Honorable David C. Godbey of Dallas, TX. In her current role, she investigates claims related to accusations of discrimination in our nation's school system and ensures they return to compliance.
Jody David Armour, Author, Playwright, USC Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law. A widely published scholar and popular lecturer, he is a Soros Justice Senior Fellow of The Open Society Institute’s Center on Crime, Communities and Culture. He has published an award-winning book, Negrophobia and Reasonable Racism and various law review articles. His recent article, “Law, Language and Politics,” 22 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 1073 (June 2020). His recent book: N*gga Theory: Race, Language, Unequal Justice, and the Law was released on August 18, 2020.
He teaches a diverse array of subjects, including Criminal Law, Torts, and Stereotypes.
Bertha Coombs is a reporter for CNBC, reporting on financial markets and health care during the business day on television and online. Previously, she was a reporter and anchor for Yahoo Finance Vision online and a freelance reporter for the former CNNfn financial network. Earlier in her career, Coombs reported for ABC News One and was a substitute anchor for “World News Now” and “World News This Morning.” She began as a general news reporter and anchor for WABC-TV in New York, WPLG-TV in Miami and WFSB-TV in Hartford. Coombs was awarded the Leo Beranek Reporter Training Fellowship at WCVB-TV in Boston.
October 1, 2020, 7:00 PM EST
Join A Better Chance to learn from Alums who forged their own paths and created their own success despite the odds. Hear how they made the decision to create their own business - what worked, and what they would never do again. Also, as black and brown-owned businesses experience a period of unprecedented struggles with massively disproportionate permanent closures, learn how these entrepreneurs persevere.
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Phillips Exeter Academy, 1982
Miriam Rivera is co-founder and managing director of Ulu Ventures, a top seed stage venture fund in Silicon Valley focused on IT startups. Ulu generates great financial results using a disciplined, repeatable decision-making process that analyzes risk-reward trade-offs and also reduces cognitive bias. Entrepreneurs in the current fund are quite diverse by industry standards and she is dedicated to increasing diversity in both the entrepreneurial and investment communities.
Prior to Ulu Ventures, Rivera was vice president / deputy general counsel at Google, which she joined in 2001 as the second attorney. There she helped build and lead an award-winning global legal department. Her work to re-design and simplify contracts helped Google scale from $85M to $10B in revenues in five years.
Before Google, Rivera worked for Ariba as counsel, after having co- founded angel and then venture-backed Outcome Software. Previously, she worked as a strategy consultant for Accenture and as an associate at the law firm of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison.
Miriam is the co-founder, former co-president and on the board of Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs an "open source network" of Stanford alumni investors and entrepreneurs. She is a Kauffman Fellow in venture capital and a board member of the Kauffman Foundation, a national endowment dedicated to increasing opportunity for Americans through education and entrepreneurship. Miriam serves on the Investment Committee of Acumen Fund America, an impact investment fund serving the needs of low-income Americans. She is also on the Launch with GS Advisory Council, an initiative by Goldman Sachs to reduce the investing gap for Black and LatinX founders while driving returns.
As a first-generation college student and scholarship recipient, Rivera graduated from Stanford University, earning AB, AM and JD/MBA degrees. She has helped raise $250 million for need-based undergraduate scholarships and endowed a scholarship fund for low- income or undocumented students at Stanford.
Miriam currently serves on Stanford's Lead Council and the Stanford Law School Venture Fund. She has previously served on Stanford’s Board of Trustees, the Office of Technology Licensing Advisory Board, the Board of Visitors of Stanford Law School and the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has been honored with the Stanford Medal, awarded to fewer than 1 percent of Stanford alumni.
In her spare time, Miriam pants her way through Robin Arzon Tabata spin classes on Peloton, runs in the foothills and overcomes her fear of heights hiking in the Sierra. She measures the quality of her life by the number of days she gets to spend on the beach, preferably a warm one.
Cate School, 1990
Sheila Marmon has a passion for the launch and operation of new businesses in the digital media industry and has created innovative platforms for over 20 years. As Founder + CEO of Mirror Digital, an interactive media and advertising company, she helps Fortune 500 brands tap into the fastest growing U.S. consumer base - the multicultural market. Sheila has executed over 500 digital campaigns in this space for clients including AT&T, Clinique, Disney, Ford, General Motors, Intel, Macy’s, Netflix, Procter & Gamble, Universal Pictures and other leading brands and advertising agencies.
In addition to entrepreneurship, Sheila’s multi-faceted media career includes leadership roles in operations, new ventures, and finance at Time Warner, Morgan Stanley and Essence Communications. Key to her success is the union of broad operating experience, innovative digital strategy, and a deep passion for the multicultural consumer market.
Sheila has been featured in leading publications including the Financial Times, and Media Post; she was also profiled in a cover story for Minority Business Entrepreneur Magazine. She serves on the Boards of The American Advertising Federation, A Better Chance, and Cate School and she is also a founding member of the Council of Urban Professionals. Sheila has received numerous awards from organizations including The Network Journal, Digital Diversity Network, Minority Business Enterprise Magazine, and the Council of Urban Professionals.
Sheila received a B.A. from Princeton University, cum laude and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband Steven F. Heuer.
Trevor Day School, 2013
Sadasia joined Google in 2017 and is the Growth Lead at CapitalG where she helps CEOs at hypergrowth stage tech companies, and their leadership teams, navigate their most business critical challenges as they scale.
Previously, Sadasia held several business critical roles in Google’s People Operations organization. She was the lead analyst on Google’s 2019 Diversity Annual Report, the most public dataset the company releases on culture, inclusion, diversity, and hiring. Her data expertise informed and measured company-wide people strategies, government reporting, and business OKRs. Sadasia also managed global operations for Google’s extended workforce (all temps, vendors, and contractors).
Sadasia graduated in 2017 with a B.A. in African American Studies, Government, and Data Analytics from Wesleyan University.
Teri Johnson is an entrepreneur and adventurer who brings her experience to life through storytelling and luxury products. A life-long traveler, Teri has visited nearly 70 countries learning about the rich cultures of the world while working as a travel and lifestyle expert for various television and digital platforms. During her travels, Teri experienced an array of different scents and developed a passion and obsession for beautiful and evocative fragrances that have the power to transport you to a different time and place. This sparked an idea to create a luxury home fragrance company inspired by her neighborhood of Harlem, specifically during the Harlem Renaissance period. She founded the Harlem Candle Co in 2014 and now has 13 exquisite fragrances in the collection. Teri’s work with some of the world's most innovative perfumers has helped her grow the brand’s popularity on an international level and has led to the brand’s launch in over 30 stores across the country.
Creators of Color
October 6, 2020, 8:00 PM EST
How do creators of color bring their valuable and unique ideas to the mass market? Hear from artists as they tell their stories of success and challenges in the media and entertainment industries. These professionals will provide context and insight into the future of the arts and creativity in a rapidly changing landscape.
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Roxane Gay’s writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Harper’s Bazaar, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women and New York Times bestselling Hunger: A Memoir of My Body. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel and the editor of Best American Short Stories 2018. She is currently at work on film and television projects, a book of writing advice, an essay collection about television and culture, and a YA novel entitled The Year I Learned Everything.
Tochi Onyebuchi is the author of the young adult novel Beasts Made of Night, which won the Ilube Nommo Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novel by an African, its sequel, Crown of Thunder, and War Girls, a Locus and Nommo Award Finalist. He holds degrees from Yale, the Tisch School of the Arts, Sciences Po, and Columbia Law School. His fiction has appeared in Panverse Three, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Obsidian, Omenana Magazine, Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, and elsewhere. His non-fiction has appeared in Tor.com, Nowhere Magazine, the Oxford University Press blog, and the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, among other places. Riot Baby is his adult fiction debut. You can find him online at tochionyebuchi.com and on Twitter @TochiTrueStory.
Chrishaunda Lee Perez is a writer, producer, and orator whose key creative focus is elevating the voices and stories of girls and women, as well as infusing empathy into captivating storylines and overall educational messaging to bring the spectrum of communities closer together.
Chrishaunda's most recent work, her debut novel, "We Come as Girls, We Leave as Women" was heralded by both Oprah Winfrey, and Paula Wallace, founder and president of SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). Since its 2018 fall release, Ms. Perez has spread the story's empowering themes a multitude of times both domestically and internationally.
Currently, Ms. Perez is working on a full-length film narrative about the devestasting effects of substance abuse through the lives of two women who derive from opposite socio-economic backgrounds.
David Cox is a Writer/Producer for HBO's Creative Services Marketing team creating the promotion you've seen on HBO and HBO Max for such shows as Game of Thrones, The Deuce, and The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo. He graduated from ABC of New Canaan, a Community School Program, in 2005 and is a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film and Television Production in 2009.
Rock Rubber 45s - Bobbito Garcia, Lower Merion A Better Chance, 1984
October 13, 2020, 7:00 PM EST
Bobbito Garcia, an A Better Chance Chance Alumnus, is one of New York City’s most famous influencers-decades before we shaped our understanding of the term. Now, Bobbito is sitting down to talk about basketball, hip hop, sneakers and the friends he made along the way. Join Bobbito for a viewing of his latest film “Rock Rubber 45s” with his own commentary. Hear his tales of the 1980s New York City basketball scene, the birth of “sneakerhead culture” and what makes an epic DJ set.
Click here to watch a recording of the panel!
Thank You To Our Sponsors
A Better Chance’s work is not possible without the generous support of our donors and partners. We thank the following individuals, Alumni and institutional and corporate partners who made significant contributions to Creating Leaders for a Lifetime.
Laurie and Peter Allan Atkins
Costas Family Foundation
Theo and Dana Killion
Henry R. Kravis
Ronald R. and Mary H. Pressman
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Stanley Black & Decker
American Express Foundation
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Kurt and Roxanna Van Wagenen
Deans List Sponsor
Bertha I. Coombs
Trinh C. Du
Roger Ferguson and Annette Nazareth
Innisfree M&A Incorporated
Gennell A. Jefferson
Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer, Katcher
Robert H. and Kate S. Niehaus
Sheila M. Marmon
Lloyd M. Abramowitz
The Bank Street Group
Curtis H. Barnette
Brian & Joelle Kelly Family Foundation
Vivian O. Berger
Eric and Stacy Cochran
Charles M. and Karen Couric
The Dapa Foundation
Daphne J. Dufresne
Blair and Cheryl Effron
James A. and Alise Ferency
Eric and Lori Friedman
Harrison J. Goldin
A. Richard and Anne Janiak
Robert A. and Sydney Kindler
Keith D. Krakaur
LightRiver Technologies, Inc
Steven R. Lipin
Robert and Maryann Marston
Tim and Deborah McChristian
Michael W. Mitchell
Amy and Joe Perella Charitable Fund
P.O.W.E.R Foundation, Inc
Michael P. Rogan
The Schwartz Family Foundation
Erv and Louise Shames
David R. Smith
The Smith and Kushmerick Family Fund
Ronald L. Thompson
Glen and Lynn Tobias
Stephen M. Wolf
Earle and Elizabeth Yaffa
Frank D. Yeary