CNBC Equity & Opportunity: Exec Connect, built in partnership with 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.
Attendees will hear from business leaders and experts on existing opportunities across the business landscape, explore advancement opportunities, and discuss initial findings from “CNBC Black Business Leadership Survey,” which will launch aligned with the event.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bertha Coombs is a reporter for CNBC, covering financial markets, business news stories and health care throughout the business day. She is based at the Nasdaq Marketsite in Times Square.
Her health care coverage at CNBC has ranged from covering the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the failed launch of the Obamacare health insurance exchanges, to how cancer researchers are using IBM's Watson to improve cancer care, and how doctors are using mobile technology to treat patients in their own homes. She also covered the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the impact of the financial crisis of 2008, and reported on the oil markets from the floor of the New York Mercantile exchange.
Before joining CNBC, Coombs was a reporter and anchor for the pioneering online business network, Yahoo Finance Vision, and served as a freelance reporter for the former CNNfn financial network. Prior, she served as a reporter for ABC News One, and a substitute anchor for "World News Now" and "World News This Morning."
She began her career in general news, with previous reporting and anchoring positions at WABC-TV in New York, WPLG-TV in Miami and WFSB-TV in Hartford, Connecticut.
Coombs is a graduate of Yale University and was awarded the Leo Beranek Reporter Training Fellowship at WCVB-TV in Boston. Born in Havana, Cuba, she speaks fluent Spanish.
Sharon Epperson, named one of “12 to Watch in TV News,” can be seen regularly on CNBC television and other media platforms.
As CNBC’s senior personal finance correspondent, Epperson covers the many facets of how people manage, grow and protect their money. Her expertise includes saving and investing for retirement, paying for college, managing mortgage, student loan, credit card and other debt, and building a financial legacy through estate planning.
Preparing your finances for the unexpected is another critical (and personal) aspect of her reporting. In September 2016, Epperson sustained a ruptured brain aneurysm and she nearly lost her life. She has become a staunch advocate for health and wellness issues, raising awareness about brain aneurysms and funding for research. In September 2018, she and her family established “The Sharon Epperson Chair of Research” through the Brain Aneurysm Foundation to provide grants for research on early detection and innovative treatments.
Epperson is a lead contributor to “Invest in You: Ready. Set. Grow.,” a multi-platform financial wellness and education initiative at CNBC in partnership with the micro-investing app Acorns, and developed its companion 8-week learning course and weekly newsletter, “Invest in You: Money 101.” She also contributes to NBC’s TODAY and NBC Nightly News as well as Today.com and NBCNews.com.
Her book, The Big Payoff: 8 Steps Couples Can Take to Make the Most of Their Money-and Live Richly Ever After, was a finalist for the Books for a Better Life Awards, honoring works that have “changed the lives of millions.” She also was a contributing writer for The Experts’ Guide to Doing Things Faster. Her personal finance expertise has been featured in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, USA Weekend, Self, Essence, Ebony and TIME, where she had covered business, culture, social issues and health as a correspondent prior to joining CNBC.
Epperson has numerous industry and civic awards, including the Special Achievement Award from the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the Savvy Inspiration Award from the non-profit, financial empowerment group Savvy Ladies. She won an Alliance for Women in Media’s Gracie Award for Outstanding Online Host for her “Financial Advisor Playbook” video series on CNBC.com. She has received the Vanguard Award for her distinguished career in business and personal finance reporting from the National Urban League Guild, and the All-Star Award from the Association of Women in Communications. She also has won awards from the New York Festivals, the New York Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists.
Epperson is committed to improving financial literacy, particularly in underserved communities. She was invited to the White House during President Obama’s administration to speak about financial literacy and to moderate a public meeting of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability at the U.S. Treasury Department. She also speaks frequently at conferences and events for local and national organizations, colleges and universities about many facets of personal finance.
An adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Epperson has also taught courses at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. She enjoys teaching the importance of budgeting and building long-term savings as part of her professional development courses for graduate students.
Epperson received her bachelor’s in sociology and government from Harvard University, a master of international affairs degree from Columbia University, and an honorary doctorate from Carlow University in Pittsburgh. A Pittsburgh native, she has also been inducted into the Hall of Fame at Taylor Allderdice High School, her alma mater.
She currently lives with her husband and two children in Westchester County, N.Y.
Frank Holland is a general assignment reporter for CNBC based at CNBC Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. He joined the network in September 2018.
Before joining CNBC, Holland was an anchor and reporter at NBC 10 Boston and NECN. Previously, he was at WCVB in Boston where he spent two years covering breaking news, national stories and enterprising original series, including “Black in Boston.”
Prior to Boston, Holland spent three years as an anchor/reporter at WGN-TV in Chicago, where he covered the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, the Republican and Democratic national conventions, as well as the National College Football Championship. He also held positions at NBC Affiliate WDIV in Detroit, News 12 in New York, and spent several years in television news in both the Virgin Islands and Alaska.
Holland holds a master’s degree in business administration from Bentley University and a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Pittsburgh.