Equity and Opportunity: Exec Connect
2024

Equity and Opportunity: Exec Connect

CNBC Equity & Opportunity: Exec Connect, in partnership with the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), connects the leaders of today and tomorrow for an evening of networking to spark conversation around building a brighter future for the next generation of Black executives. Exec Connect attendees will hear from business leaders and experts on existing opportunities across the business landscape, and explore advancement opportunities for C-suite leaders and Board Directors. 

 

Past Speakers

Priscilla Sims Brown

Priscilla Sims Brown is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Amalgamated Bank. Ms. Brown is a multi-national board director and C-suite executive with 30 years of financial services experience. Prior to joining Amalgamated Bank she was the Group Executive for Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where she focused on rebuilding trust and pride in the bank with direct responsibility for end-to-end marketing, branding, stakeholder insights, government and public affairs, and environment and social policy.

Prior to Commonwealth Bank, Ms. Brown held senior positions at AXA Financial, Inc., Sun Life Financial, and Lincoln Financial Group. She has advised several digital startups and served as the Chief Executive Officer of Emerge.me, a digital health insurance broker.

She was a member of the AXA Financial US Executive Committee, serving as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), where she directed all aspects of US marketing and led global digital marketing initiatives. Prior to AXA Financial, Ms. Brown served as CMO at AmeriHealth/Caritas, where she developed a new go-to-market strategy for the largest Blue Cross/Blue Shield Medicaid company in response to the Affordable Care Act. At Sun Life, Ms. Brown served as CMO and Chief Strategist, where she negotiated and managed Sun Life Stadium naming rights, Pro Bowl, Super Bowl and other major events with the Miami Dolphins NFL football team.

During her 18-year tenure at Lincoln Financial Group, Ms. Brown held numerous leadership positions where she integrated acquired companies, established new businesses and led the consumer brand. She established the firm’s first investment management profit center, targeting midsized insurance companies. She also started and chaired Lincoln’s first family of standalone mutual funds and served as president of the broker-dealer. Ms. Brown also led the investor relations function, before expanding her responsibilities to include corporate and strategic marketing.

For the past three years, she served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (‘TIAA’), a US Fortune 100 financial services firm with over $1.2 trillion in assets under management. She served on the TIAA Investment, Nominating and Governance, and Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility committees, as well as Trustee and CEO selection subcommittees.

Ms. Brown’s personal and professional experiences have enabled her to reach across cultural boundaries to ensure collaboration among diverse teams and drive successful outcomes for organizations.

Priscilla Almodovar

Priscilla Almodovar is the CEO and member of the Board of Directors of Fannie Mae, a U.S. government sponsored enterprise and leading source of mortgage financings in the United States. With over 30 years’ experience in finance, Priscilla leads a company that advances equitable and sustainable access to homeownership and quality rental housing. As CEO, she is responsible for overseeing the firm’s strategy, managing risk, driving innovation and efficiency throughout the business. Currently, she is the only Latina overseeing a Fortune 500 company.
Prior to joining Fannie Mae, Priscilla led a national housing platform, and previously served as a Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase where she led two of the firm's national real estate businesses. Earlier in her career, she was President and CEO of New York State’s housing finance and mortgage agencies. Priscilla serves on the Board of Directors of Realty Income, Inc., (NYSE: O).

Janelle Rodriguez

Janelle Rodriguez is NBC News’ Executive Vice President of Programming, overseeing NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, the network’s 24/7 streaming news network NBC News NOW, and breaking news special coverage. Rodriguez joined NBC News in January 2015.

Under Rodriguez’s leadership, NBC News NOW has become the fastest growing streaming news network in the U.S. NBC News NOW is free, 24/7 and has more live hours than any other streaming news network. NBC News NOW hit record viewership in 2022 with 50% year over year growth. Already widely distributed across more than a dozen platforms, NBC News NOW expanded with national and international linear distribution in 2022.

Before joining NBC News, Rodriguez she served as Vice President of Programming for CNN, where she led all dayside and weekend programming for the network. At CNN, she was credited with directing award-winning coverage of many breaking news events and with driving greater collaboration. Variety honored Rodriguez as a Daytime TV Impact Honoree in 2013.

In 2023, Rodriguez was honored on the Variety Women’s Impact Report for her work across NBC News NOW and NBC Nightly News. In 2022, Rodriguez was included on Fast Company’s Queer 50 List and CableFax’s Pride List, and she was also awarded the Latino Leaders’ Maestro Award. Rodriguez has won three Emmy Awards for Election Night coverage as well as for Hosni Mubarak stepping down as President of Egypt in 2011. She also earned Peabody Awards for reporting of the Gulf Oil Spill, the 2008 presidential primary campaigns, and for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and was part of the CNN team that won an Alfred I. DuPont Award for coverage of the tsunami in Southeast Asia in 2005. Rodriguez led all of CNN’s cross-platform coverage of the 2011 Royal Wedding, resulting in a Shorty Award for Best Use of Video in a Social Media Campaign.

Rodriguez holds a Bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Production from San Francisco State University.

Cid Wilson

Cid Wilson was named President & Chief Executive Officer of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) in July 2014, where he manages a growing staff of talented, dedicated professionals. He leverages more than 30 years of corporate finance and Wall Street equity research experience to work closely with corporations, their CEOs and board directors, and chief diversity officers to increase the representation of Hispanics at all levels in Corporate America. In addition, he directs programs and initiatives aimed at encouraging Fortune 500 companies to increase Hispanic inclusion in the areas of employment, procurement, philanthropy, and governance.

Wilson has been featured, quoted, and sourced in numerous media outlets, including CNBC, ABC News, NBC News, Time, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Yahoo! Finance, The New York Times, Forbes, Bloomberg Business News and many more. In February 2004, he was on the cover of Black Enterprise Magazine; in March 2017, he was featured in MONEY Magazine; and in April 2017, he shared the cover of LATINO Magazine with the Chairman and CEO of General Motors Company, Mary Barra. This made him, one of the country’s few Afro-Latinos to make the cover page of both major magazines focused on African Americans and Latinos.

As the public face of the organization, Wilson promotes The Power of Hispanic Inclusion™ through direct corporate advocacy, thought leadership engagements, traditional media, and outreach to organizations, employee resource groups, and diversity leaders who share HACR’s mission. His ease in communicating within the C-suites of major U.S. corporations is a unique advantage in creating new partnerships and strengthening relationships with existing corporate members.

His focus on elevating diverse talent to corporate boards extends to all women and people of color through his service as part of the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD), which comprises four leadership organizations including HACR. The other three are Catalyst Inc., The Executive Leadership Council, and Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP). Diversified Search serves as an advisor. He was appointed chair of ABD in January of 2022 for a 2-year term.

In September 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Wilson to the National Museum of the American Latino Study Commission that proposed to the President and Congress construction of a new Smithsonian Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. He was named board chair of the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino in 2012 and continues to lead advocacy efforts aimed at sustaining Congressional support for the museum’s completion.

Wilson graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in economics. He launched his Wall Street career in 1993 and steadily rose from the mailroom to the executive suite, earning national recognition as the #1 Specialty Retail Analyst by Forbes in 2006.

His thought leadership comes from many years serving on corporate boards, corporate advisory boards, and decades of interactions with corporate board directors and CEOs. He serves on the governing steering committee of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, the largest corporate CEO initiative in the world focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In June 2021, Wilson was inducted into The Ohio State University’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion Hall of Fame for the inaugural Class of 2021 for his lifetime of accomplishments and his dedication to sharing his inspirations with the students of his beloved alma mater.

Wilson is a proud Dominican American with Bergen County, NJ roots, and has served the community through prominent nonprofit boards with leading advocacy groups, including LatinoJustice PRLDEF (formerly the Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund), Unidos US (formerly the National Council of La Raza) and Dominicans on Wall Street (DOWS). As a youth empowerment advocate, he serves on the national board of directors for Junior Achievement USA. He is the former national president of the Dominican American National Roundtable (DANR), former vice chairman of the board of trustees for Bergen Community College, a former trustee ambassador to the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, a former member of the Association of Community College Trustees’ (ACCT) National Board of Directors, and a Gold Life Member of the NAACP.

Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones is President of MSNBC, the premiere destination for breaking news, award-winning journalism, in-depth analysis and informed perspectives. She is responsible for oversight of all programming, digital expansion, new businesses, editorial units, business development and technical operations.

Prior to taking on the role of President in February 2021, Jones served as Senior Vice President, NBC News and MSNBC. In this position, she spearheaded cross-platform breaking news and major events for both networks, including coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, and the networks’ Decision 2020 coverage including presidential debates, town halls, primaries and special election nights and forums. Jones simultaneously led MSNBC’s dayside and weekend news programming, where she managed hours of live reporting and newsgathering backed by the journalism of NBC News. Jones executive produced the most-watched Democratic presidential debate in history during the 2020 election cycle.

Jones has won two Emmys, three Edward R. Murrow Awards and was honored with the RTDNA 2022 First Amendment Award, which recognizes journalists and news executives who make major contributions to protecting First Amendment freedoms. She has been honored with leadership awards from the National Action Network, the National Urban League, ColorComm and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications.

She is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, a board member of the Carole Kneeland Project for Responsible Journalism, a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Milken Institute’s Executive Women’s Circle.

In 2019, Jones was inducted into the Hampton University Scripps Howard Journalism School Hall of Fame, an honor acknowledging her outstanding work in the journalism industry. She also received the inaugural Media Leadership Award from Montclair State University for the significant national impact she has made in the media industry across platforms and genres.

Jones received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Media-Arts Broadcast from Hampton University, where she has launched a scholarship in her name.

Sandra Campos

Sandra Campos is a Board Member, 3x CEO, 2x entrepreneur, and advisor in retail, CPG, and technology. Throughout her career as a consumer focused operator, she has built global lifestyle brands and has been instrumental in turnarounds, digital transformations, innovations, and international expansion.

As an independent board director, she serves on the board of Fabric, a venture backed Saas commerce tech platform; Big Lots, value retailer (NYSE); PetMeds, America’s largest online pet pharmacy (NASDAQ); Daniel’s Jewelers, the fourth largest independent jewelry retailer in the US; PureRed, a PE backed advertising technology services company.

Sandra’s C-Suite roles include being the first female CEO of iconic global retail brand Diane Von Furstenberg, President of a portfolio of $1bn global contemporary brands including Juicy Couture, Bebe, BCBG.and Herve Leger, and President of O Oscar (an Oscar de la Renta division).

As an entrepreneur, she was the CEO and co-founder of the first teen celebrity brand management company, in partnership with Selena Gomez. Dream out Loud by Selena Gomez became the actress’s first $100mm lifestyle brand and was exclusive to Kmart in fourteen product categories for five years.

Ms. Campos has received many awards, including top 100 Latina Leaders by Latino Leaders Magazine 2020-2023, ALPA’s Most Powerful Latina 2020-2023, Top Woman in Retail, Top Líderes in Business by Hispanic Executive Magazine, and has been honored for her service by Girls Inc.

Sandra was also a member of the first all-women led SPAC, which had a business combination on the NYSE in 2021. She is an advocate for Latinos, invests in early stage Gen-Z companies, and advises startup founders. She recently launched Latina Disruptors, an event highlighting and honoring Latina entrepreneurs.

In 2020, Sandra created Launchpad, an on-demand edtech startup focused on re-skilling and up-skilling the 52 million employees in retail.

Shundrawn Thomas

Shundrawn A. Thomas is a professional investor and corporate executive with 27 years of high-impact leadership within the world’s premiere financial services institutions. He has earned an industrywide reputation as an innovator in investment management and a champion of diversity equity and inclusion. As an executive, he is a pacesetter in organizational transformation and serves as a trusted strategic advisor to the C-suite and boards of directors. Shundrawn is the Founder and Managing Partner of The Copia Group (TCG), a private investment firm which provides capital solutions for lower middle market companies and drives social impact through the power of scalable businesses.

Prior to founding TCG, Shundrawn served as President of Northern Trust Asset Management, a leading global investment manager with then $1.3 trillion in assets and served as a member of the executive management group of Northern Trust Corporation. His executive roles included Head of FlexShares ETFs, President of Northern Trust Securities, and Head of Corporate Strategy. Prior to joining Northern Trust, Shundrawn

Highly respected for his authentic leadership style, Shundrawn has earned numerous industry accolades over the years. Black Enterprise Magazine identified him as one of 2011’s “75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street” and again in 2017 as among the Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America.” In 2020, he was identified by Savoy Magazine as one of the “Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America. In 2021, he was selected as a member of ThinkAdvisor’s 2021 class of industry luminaries and InvestmentNews honored him with a lifetime achievement award for leadership in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Shundrawn completed his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Florida A&M University, where he graduated magna cum laude. He earned his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, with concentrations in accounting and finance. With a lifelong passion for learning, he has also completed executive leadership programs in corporate strategy at Chicago Booth and corporate governance at University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business.

Shundrawn serves as a member of the Board of Directors at Reinsurance Group of America, Incorporated (NYSE: RGA), a leading global life and health reinsurer and as a trustee for the Financial Accounting Foundation. A devoted husband and father of two sons, Shundrawn is also actively involved in civic organizations serving as a trustee for Rush University Medical Center and Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry. He is also a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Commercial Club of Chicago. Shundrawn is a frequent public speaker, media commentator and lecturer and has authored four books including Discover Joy in Work: Transforming Your Occupation into Your Vocation, published in 2019.

Judy Smith

Judy A. Smith is a crisis strategist and communications advisor who The Washington Post describes as “America’s best-known corporate fixer.”

For more than 25 years, Ms. Smith has counseled presidents and world leaders through global crises, advised Fortune 50 CEOs through complex challenges, and helped manage the reputations of some of the world’s highest-profile individuals. In 1993, she founded Smith & Company, a strategic advisory firm considered to be one of the top crisis firms in the world, that has offices in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, New York and London.
Ms. Smith has brought her unique combination of communication skills, media savvy, legal and political acumen to clients facing a wide array of issues and challenges throughout the United States and abroad. She honed her skills through her experiences with some of the most historic and sensational events of our time, including the Iran Contra investigation, the prosecution of former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, the 1991 Gulf War, the Los Angeles riots, the President Clinton scandal involving Monica Lewinsky, the congressional inquiry of Enron, the General Petraeus CIA scandal, the Sony Corporation hacking crisis, as well as the United Nations Foundation and World Health Organization response to the SARS epidemic. Additionally, she is currently serving as a trusted advisor at the forefront of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Perhaps best known in media circles for her expertise as a crisis management advisor, Ms. Smith is on speed dial for a host of high-profile celebrity and entertainment clients over the course of her career including, but not limited to, Angelina Jolie, Monica Lewinsky, Senator Craig from Idaho, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., actor Wesley Snipes and the family of Chandra Levy. That work involves everything from managing unwanted press attention to rehabilitating reputations.
In addition to her work as a communications advisor during high profile moments, Ms. Smith is a long-time counselor to some of the world’s largest and most influential companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Panera, Lowes, Sony, Kaiser, United Healthcare, and Walmart. She provides her clients with strategic advice on a variety of corporate communications issues such as mergers and acquisitions, product recalls, intellectual property litigation, corporate positioning, diversity and other corporate, investor and public relations matters.
A former federal prosecutor, Ms. Smith worked in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia as well as the Office of the Independent Counsel, where she handled high-profile investigations. Ms. Smith cut her teeth in communications and crisis in the halls of the West Wing. She served as Deputy Press Secretary to President George H.W. Bush, during which time she worked on a host of domestic and international issues. Ms. Smith holds a Bachelor’s in Science in public relations from Boston University and a JD from the American University Washington College of Law, where she was the first Black woman to serve on the Executive Board of the Law Review.

Ms. Smith frequently appears in print and on television to offer commentary on crisis management. She has been featured in numerous national publications including: the Washington Post, National Journal, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, Fast Company. Ms. Smith is an experienced and sought-after commentator as a crisis management expert. She frequently appears on major television networks such as CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, NBC, ABC, and CBS. Ms. Smith also speaks at events throughout the year before conference audiences, corporate boards, academic institutions, and other professional groups. She is the author of the book Good Self, Bad Self, which was published in 2012 by an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and which The New York Journal of Books described as containing “a wealth of insight.”
As a result of her wide ranging and ground-breaking career, Ms. Smith inspired the hit TV series entitled, Scandal, which revolved around the life and work of a professional fixer. Ms. Smith served as Co- Executive Producer of the project and provided insight and technical expertise on crisis management issues. Ms. Smith’s advice and counsel has been valuable to corporate boardrooms and she currently serves on the boards for Save the Children, Carbon Health, Global Citizen, Ariel Investments and the Washington National Cathedral. Ms. Smith has received numerous communications and leadership awards and is active in community service.

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