WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans:
- Malcolm Kenyatta, Chair
- Lezli Baskerville, Member
- Marla Blunt-Carter, Member
- Stacy Brown-Philpot, Member
- Vilicia Cade, Member
- Vincent Dorien Evans, Member
- Michael Anthony Holmes, Member
- Fedrick C. Ingram, Member
- Lonnie L. Johnson, Member
- Chad Dion Lassiter, Member
- Adena Williams Loston, Member
- William “Billy” Mitchell, Member
- Clarence A. Nesbitt, Jr., Member
- Denise Louise Pease, Member
- Rebecca “Becky” Pringle, Member
- Marisa J. Richmond, Member
- Bernice G. Scott, Member
- Richard “Mouse” Smith, Member
- Joe Tate, Member
- Kenny D. Thompson, Jr., Member
- Benaree “Bennie” Pratt Wiley, Member
Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans aids in developing, implementing, and coordinating educational programs and initiatives for agencies such as the Department of Education. Specifically, the Commission provides advice to the President through the Secretary of Education on matters pertaining to educational equity and economic opportunity for the Black community. The Commission primarily focuses on: 1) promoting career pathways for Black students through programs such as internships, apprenticeships and work-based learning initiatives, 2) increasing public awareness of the educational disparities Black Americans face and providing solutions to these problems, and 3) establishing local and national relationships with public, private, philanthropic, and nonprofit stakeholders to advance the mission of equity, excellence, and economic opportunity for Black Americans.
Malcolm Kenyatta, Chair
Representative Malcolm Kenyatta is a third-generation North Philadelphia native, thought leader, and legislator, currently serving in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Public Communications with a minor in Political Science from Temple University and his Master of Science in Strategic and Digital Communications from Drexel University. Kenyatta also completed the Harvard Kennedy School’s Executives in State and Local Government Program. Kenyatta was chosen for multiple prestigious fellowships and international delegations, including the Bertelsmann Leadership Fellow in the Digital Economy, the bipartisan Hunt/Kean Leadership Fellow in Education, and the American Jewish Committee Project Interchange.
Kenyatta is a barrier-breaking public figure, becoming the first openly LGBTQ+ Person of Color and one of the youngest members elected to the PA General Assembly in 2018. In 2022, he became the first openly LGBTQ+ Person of Color to run for the U.S. Senate in American history. Kenyatta has been a vocal proponent of protecting workers’ rights, enacting common-sense gun safety policies, and rooting out government corruption and waste. He has multiple legislative leadership roles, serving as a Member of the State Government Committee with oversight on state agencies and elections, Chair of the Subcommittee on Campaign Finance and Elections, Chair of Automation and Technology in the Committee on Commerce, and Member of the Finance Committee. Since his election, he has served on Governor Tom Wolf’s Suicide Prevention Task Force and has been a member of the Philadelphia Delegation leadership team.
Kenyatta lives in North Philadelphia with his husband Dr. Matthew Kenyatta and their dog Cleo.
Lezli Baskerville, Member
Attorney Lezli Baskerville, an Honors graduate of Howard University School of Law and a constitutional justice lawyer, is a Howard University School of Law Lifetime Achiever. She is an Honors graduate of Douglass College at Rutgers University and a Douglass Society inductee, which she received in recognition of her work on improving the quality of life for vulnerable populations. Baskerville is the CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, the membership and advocacy association of richly diverse HBCUs and PBIs. Baskerville, a Harvard University Advanced Leadership Fellow, served in the Education Group/Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on the NAACP Legislative Counsel, as a National Black Leadership Roundtable Chief, as a DC Administrative Appeals Judge, and as a senior executive staff for members and committees of Congress. Baskerville has directed 34 political campaigns, designed and directed public policy campaigns, and wrote articles in or edited 40 public policy documents credited with shaping public opinion on state, national, and global policy.
Baskerville is a Founding Investor and Member of the Board of ECRID, the first Black-Founded and controlled publicly traded credit bureau and lending corporation that offers a fix to FICO and credit access to a broader and more diverse applicant pool. Baskerville has been by the Higher Education Leadership Foundation as “Woman of the Year,” by STEMConnector as one of “100 Women Leaders in STEM,” by Diverse Issues in Higher as one of “25Women Making a Difference,” by AOL Black Voices as one of the Nation’s “Top 10 Black Women in Higher Education,” and by Ebony Magazine for six consecutive years as one of America’s Top 100 Most Influential Association Leaders. Baskerville is acknowledged in The History Makers as a distinguished lawmaker.
Marla Blunt-Carter, Member
Marla Blunt-Carter is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice at Rutgers University School of Social Work in New Brunswick, New Jersey. As a recipient of multiple teaching awards, she instructs graduate-level courses on social policy, community organizing, advocacy, and political social work. Blunt-Carter holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Delaware and a Master of Social Work from Rutgers University. Blunt-Carter combines social work practice approaches and her extensive background in political and public policy work to provide a unique perspective to her teaching.
Blunt-Carter’s professional experience includes serving as Projects Manager and Director of Constituent Services for then-U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware State Director for the 2008 Obama-Biden Presidential Campaign, and Senior Agency Liaison in the Office of Presidential Correspondence for the Obama-Biden Administration. Blunt-Carter has also held positions as Senior Advisor and Communications Director for Delaware’s Insurance Commissioner and Director of Community Planning and Policy Development for the Delaware HIV Consortium.
In 2015, Blunt-Carter became the Senior Advisor and Political Strategist for Lisa Blunt Rochester, who became the first woman and Person of Color to represent Delaware in the U.S. House of Representatives. She continues to provide consultation to the Congresswoman and also provides assistance to other local officials in Delaware. Blunt-Carter’s exceptional ability to merge her experience in political and public policy with social work gives her a distinctive perspective, making her an outstanding educator and mentor to her students.
Stacy Brown-Philpot, Member
Stacy Brown-Philpot is Founder & Managing Partner at Cherryrock Capital, an early-stage venture firm focused on investing in Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. She is the former CEO of TaskRabbit, the leading task management network, which she led from a fast-growing startup into a global business, and eventually to its successful acquisition by the IKEA Group. Prior to that, Brown-Philpot spent over a decade with Google and Google Ventures where she lent strategic expertise, led global operations for key Google flagship products, and served as Head of Online Sales and Operations for Google India. Brown-Philpot also brings a background in finance from her experience at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Goldman Sachs.
Brown-Philpot is a founding member of SoftBank’s $100mm Opportunity Fund, established to invest in Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. She is on the Board of Directors for HP Inc., Nordstrom, Noom, StockX, Joy, Black Girls Code, and The Urban Institute. She was named a 2016 Henry Crown Fellow with the Aspen Institute and has been ranked by Business Insider as one of the 46 Most Important Blacks in Technology. Originally from Detroit, where she developed a deep and abiding love for all things Motown, Brown-Philpot now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two daughters. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Business Administration from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.
Vilicia Cade, Member
Vilicia Cade, an accomplished educational leader, scholar, author, and social justice advocate, is the first Black female CEO and Superintendent of the Capital School District in Dover, Delaware. Cade is the only Black female Superintendent in the state, and she brings over three decades of improving outcomes for vulnerable children and adults to her current role. Her portfolio of public-private partnerships validates her track record in improving the quality of life and economic opportunities for her students. Cade is known for her inspired and innovative approaches to bolstering community, faith-based, and business partnerships interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. Notably, she was a key administrator of the Brooklyn High School’s New Visions reform project, Co-Creator of the College Readiness Scholars Institute at the University of Delaware, and is credited for launching numerous parent empowerment programs.
Cade enthusiastically embraces her personal journey as a former ward of the State of New York, described in her debut bestseller If Not For Love. Her story resonates with many Black Americans illuminating the gaps in our child welfare system. Her childhood has established a firm foundation for resilience proving why empowering the disenfranchised is quintessential. Cade has served on boards such as Northeast Ohio Boys & Girls Club and United Way of Delaware. Cade earned her bachelor’s degree, three master’s degrees, and doctorate from New York University. In 2020, she received the prestigious Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. Education Advocate Centennial Dove Award. A radio personality on the Stellar Awarded WNZN in Lorain, Ohio, she uses urban inspiration to connect the significance of service, educational equity, and economic development.
Vincent Dorien Evans, Member
Vincent Evans serves as Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus. He oversees the legislative policy agenda, manages the external and political affairs of the Caucus, and provides strategic leadership for the Caucus’ 58 Members of Congress. Prior to this role, Evans served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs for Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House where he was responsible for creating and coordinating direct dialogue between the Biden-Harris administration and the diverse American public. He worked at the local, state, and national levels to ensure community leaders, diverse perspectives, and new voices all had the opportunity to inform the work of the President and Vice President. Evans served as Political Director to then-Senator Kamala Harris on the Biden-Harris Campaign during the general election and the campaign’s Southern Political Director during the primary season. Prior to this, he served on the senior staff of U.S. Representative Al Lawson of Florida, with a portfolio that focused on state and local issues.
Before his role in the Congress, Evans worked as the Aide to Tallahassee City Commissioner Curtis Richardson after running Richard’s successful campaign. His experience includes working at a government relations firm focused on state legislative matters in the Florida Senate Democratic Caucus for Democratic Leader Nan Rich and later at a cabinet-level state agency. He managed or served in leadership roles on the campaigns of the two most recent Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominees and several local, state, and congressional races in Florida. In 2022, Evans was named a “Young Black Changemaker” by NextGen America, the Nation’s largest youth voter organization. Born and raised in Florida, Evans attended Florida A&M University.
Michael Anthony Holmes, Member
Michael A. Holmes currently serves as President and CEO of MD and Partners, a consulting firm that focuses on strategic community planning and program development, and Executive Director of the Black Community Provider Network, a collaboration of Community Based Organizations in Illinois. Holmes is the former Executive Director of the Illinois African American Family Commission. He has served as an administrator for more than 20 years in both the City of Chicago and State of Illinois. Holmes has also served as former Vice President of Operations for Westside Holistic Services and Statewide Quality Assurance Administrator for six regions in the State of Illinois. Over the last 15 years, Holmes has been actively involved in working with the State of Illinois General Assembly as Deputy and Associate Director of two State agencies. Holmes worked specifically with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to monitor and identify policies and legislation that affect the African American communities in the State of Illinois. As Executive Director of the Illinois African American Family Commission, Holmes developed the role of liaison to the Governor’s office and the State’s administration for the purpose of recommending State services and resources to communities.
Holmes is actively engaged in civic and community activities. He is currently a member of the Youth and Child Development Committee for Congressman Danny Davis of the 7th Congressional District, Chairman of the Country Club Hills Police and Fire Commission, former Chairman of the Country Club Hills Umbrella Project, and former Member of the Illinois Department of Human Services Child Care Advisory Council. Holmes has also served as Coach and League Coordinator for CHA Midnight Basketball, Coordinator of Chicago Housing Authority Biddy Basketball, Volunteer for Chicago Inner City Games, former Member of the child watch African American Family Commission, former Member of the Illinois Department of Human Services Statewide Advisory Committee, former Commissioner at the Country Club Hills Park District, Founding Member of the Department of Children and Family Services African American Advisory Council, and Member of the Statewide Foster Parent Recruitment and Retention Steering Committee.
As a Seaman in the United States Navy, Holmes completed his basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Base and completed eighteen months of military service at the Naval War College, an international military leadership training institute. As a result of his service at the College, Holmes became a computer operator, which enabled him to develop war strategy. He received an associate’s degree from Kennedy King Jr College and bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Inner City Studies from Northeastern Illinois University. Holmes has been married to his wife for 40 years and they have raised four sons in the Chicago land area.
Fedrick C. Ingram, Member
Fedrick C. Ingram is Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), serving 1.7 million members. Ingram is the immediate former President of the 140,000-member Florida Education Association. He served as Vice President of the AFT’s Executive Council from 2014 to 2020 before getting elected as the AFT’s Secretary-Treasurer. Ingram grew up in inner-city Miami where he attended public schools. Pursuing his love of music, he attended Bethune-Cookman University on a scholarship and became the first member of his family to earn a postsecondary degree in music education. In 2006, he was named the Francisco R. Walker Miami-Dade County Teacher of the Year. He was also a finalist for the state of Florida Teacher of the Year Award in 2006. In addition to his bachelor’s degree from Bethune-Cookman, Ingram earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Barry University and holds an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Florida Memorial University for a lifetime of work in education.
Lonnie L. Johnson, Member
Lonnie L. Johnson retired from Exxon Mobil Corporation in 2019 as Senior Counsel, Downstream Commercial Litigation. Prior to serving in that position, Lonnie served as Senior Director, Federal Relations at Exxon Mobil Corporation in Washington, DC. Lonnie received his J.D, with distinction, from The University of Iowa College of Law, where he served on the Iowa Law Review and was a member of the Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity. Johnson earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Johnson currently serves on the Board of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and on the Tugaloo College Research Board. Johnson also serves on the Board of Silence the Shame, an organization dedicated to removing the stigma associated with mental illness and getting people the help they need. Johnson is a former member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Advisory Board and the Board of the National Democratic Club. He served on the Board of Council for Legal Education Opportunities for more than 10 years. Johnson is married to Eartha Jean Johnson and they have three children, Te’iva Johnson Bell (Criminal District Court Judge, Harris County Texas), Ti’era Johnson Williams (Prosecutor, Family Violence Cases, Harris County Texas), and Antuan Johnson (Criminal Defense Attorney, Houston Texas).
Chad Dion Lassiter, Member
Chad Dion Lassiter is a national expert in the field of American Race Relations. Lassiter has worked on race, peace, and poverty-related issues in the United States, Africa, Canada, Haiti, Israel, and Norway. Lassiter is the current Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission where he has developed and launched a “No Hate in Our State Townhall” to address the surge of White Nationalism in Pennsylvania, a “Social Justice Lecture Series” providing an outlet for communities to discuss imperative issues, and serves as a Racial Reduction Response team for those communities impacted by hatred. Lassiter has also developed programs such as the “Global Social Justice Initiative,” “Black and Jewish Beloved Community Dialogue,” and the “College Race Dialogue Initiative.”
Lassiter received his master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Social Work, where he was the A. Phillip Randolph Award winner in 2001 and was the recipient of the prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Involvement Award in 2008.
Lassiter is the Co-Founder and current President of The Black Men at Penn School of Social Work, Inc., an organization within the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, the first Ivy League Black male group of social workers. In 2019, he was inducted into the School of Social Policy and Practice Alumni Hall of Fame. Lassiter was recently chosen as the National Association of Social Workers – Pennsylvania Chapter’s Social Worker of the Year for 2021 and was recognized by the Philadelphia Tribune as “The Most Influential African American Leader from 2010-2022.”
Adena Williams Loston, Member
Dr. Adena Williams Loston possesses over 40 years of professional leadership experience including spearheading a national agenda for education, engaging communities in addressing economic development issues, providing organizational and institutional leadership towards workforce readiness and academic preparation. She has served as the 14th President of St. Philip’s College, the Nation’s Historically Black College and Hispanic Serving Institution, since 2007 with responsibilities for 13,000 students including four early college high schools, programs at three military base sites and dual credit and P-TECH programs. Through her strategic leadership and management oversight in 2018, St. Philip’s College received the Governor’s Award for Performance Excellence and the national Malcolm Baldrige Award as one of the Alamo Colleges. She has instituted the Planning Budget and Assessment Cycle, Resource Allocation Process, President’s Academy, Department Chair Academy, Good to Great Strategic Planning Process, and three Centers of Excellence. Loston also provides oversight for $400 Million in new and renovated facilities construction.
Loston previously served as the Chief Education Office for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Washington DC, President of San Jacinto College South, and held administrative positions at Santa Monica College and the El Paso County Community College District. She has also served as an associate professor at George State University and instructor at Arkansas State University. Loston was a three-term appointee to the HBCU Capital Financing Committee. She graduated Alcorn State University with a bachelor’s degree in 1973 and received her M.Ed. and Ph.D. degrees from Bowling Green State University in 1974 and 1979.
William “Billy” Mitchell, Member
Representative William “Billy” Mitchell, a former public-school teacher, was previously elected to the City Council of the historic Stone Mountain in 1995. His colleagues then unanimously selected him to serve as Vice Mayor. Appointed Chair of the Finance Committee, he led the City to “outstanding financial status,” as reported by independent auditors. Among the ordinances he was most proud to author, Representative Mitchell granted the City the authority to erect the “Freedom Bell” in the middle of its downtown, commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call – in his immortal “I Have a Dream” speech – to “let freedom ring, from Stone Mountain of Georgia!”
A depended upon leader in the Georgia General Assembly, Mitchell has authored legislation signed into law every term he has served. His Caucus in the State Legislature selected him to receive their highest honor, the “Legislator of the Year” award, after only his second term. Mitchell earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, his Masters of Arts degree from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and his Juris Doctor degree from Atlanta Law School. Mitchell has also been bestowed a Doctorate degree from the Trinity United School of Ambassadors. Elected by his colleagues, he currently serves as Chair of the Georgia House of Representatives Democratic Caucus. He was also elected by his nationwide peers to serve as President of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) and now serves as President of the NBCSL Foundation. NBCSL members represent seventy million Americans, and former members of NBCSL include 40% of the current Congressional Black Caucus and the 44th U.S. President. Mitchell was also elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the National Conference of State Legislators, which is the world’s largest legislative organization serving legislators and legislative staff in all of America’s 50 states and territories.
Clarence A. Nesbitt, Jr., Member
Clarence A. Nesbitt is the Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary of THINK450, the business, innovation, and partnership engine of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). In this role, Nesbitt serves as the principal legal advisor across THINK450’s business units, working to propel the organization’s next stage of growth by amplifying the value of the collective players’ rights, expanding commercial opportunities, and securing innovative deals in the business of basketball among other responsibilities. Prior to this role, Nesbitt has served as the NBPA’s General Counsel where he led the legal and government affairs functions of the union, negotiated modifications to the collective bargaining agreement associated with the coronavirus pandemic, and led the successful voluntary recognition campaign to unionize the NBA G League players (the NextGen Basketball Players Association).
Nesbitt attended Florida A&M University, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. Nesbitt went on to Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC for his Juris Doctor degree. Nesbitt currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Central Park Conservancy and the Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association.
Denise L. Pease, Member
Denise L. Pease has committed her dynamic career as a senior government executive to developing impactful and sustainable policies that improve the lives of people, particularly those living in low- and moderate-income communities, by providing greater access and opportunities. Her talent for identifying problems and finding viable solutions has gained her the respect of national and international government, business, and community leaders. Pease served as the Northeast and Caribbean Regional Administrator at the General Services Administration in the Obama-Biden Administration. Through her leadership, the region succeeded in increasing minority business participation, returning the federal government to the World Trade Center site, and reconstructing federal government facilities and services after Hurricane Sandy. She has also served as the New York State Deputy Superintendent of Banks and the New York City Assistant Comptroller for Commercial Banking. In both positions, she created and implemented policy initiatives that increased banking services to the un-banked and under-banked communities.
Denise is a disability advocate, having developed and advocated on behalf of those with epilepsy and as a breast cancer survivor. Denise earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University’s School of General Studies. She has furthered her pursuit to develop innovative sustainable solutions to the economic disparity found in many communities through the completion of advanced studies at internationally renowned educational institution including Executive Management training at the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD) Paris – Strategic Management of Financial Structures Programme. She has received numerous awards and recognition for her accomplishments including serving as a National Urban Fellow at the Bernard Baruch School of Public Administration and as a Charles H. Revson Fellow on the Future of New York at Columbia University.
Denise devotes her time to working with organizations to ensure that future generations have lives of endless possibilities, including her work with UN Women, the Disability Council of the DNC, the Greater Queens Chapter of the Links, Inc., and serving as a Life Member of NAACP and Heritage Member of the Claude B. Govan Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
Rebecca “Becky” Pringle, Member
National Education Association (NEA) President Becky Pringle is a fierce social justice warrior, defender of educator rights, unrelenting advocate for all students and communities of color, and valued and respected voice in the education arena.
A middle school science teacher with more than three decades of classroom experience, Pringle is singularly focused on uniting the members of the largest labor union with the Nation, and using that collective power to transform public education into a racially and socially just and equitable system that is designed to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.
Pringle’s passion for students and educators, combined with her first-hand classroom experience, equip her to lead the movement to reclaim public education as a common good. Before assuming NEA’s top post in 2020, Pringle served as NEA Vice President and before that as NEA Secretary-Treasurer. She directed NEA’s work to combat institutional racism and spotlight systemic patterns of racism and educational injustice that impact students. Under Pringle’s guidance, NEA works to widen access and opportunity by demanding changes to policies, programs, and practices. The Association’s goal is to ensure the systemic, fair treatment of people of all races so that equitable opportunities and outcomes are within reach for every student. This is why Pringle is a staunch advocate for students who have disabilities, identify as LGBTQ+, are immigrants, or English Language Learners.
Pringle is a passionate Philadelphia Eagles fan, loves anything purple, and is the “Best Nana B” ever for two special someone’s.
Marisa J. Richmond, Member
Marisa J. Richmond teaches history and women’s and gender studies at Middle Tennessee State University. She previously taught at Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, and Nashville State Community College. She is the current President of the Tennessee Federation of Democratic Women, and a Co-Chair of the Transgender Advisory Committee of the Democratic National Committee. Locally, she is a member of the Metro Historical Commission, having previously served as a member, and Past Chair, of the Metro Human Relations Commission. She also served on the Mayor’s Council on the Status of Women and the Davidson County General Sessions Court Judicial Equity Collective. Previously, she served many years as the President and Lobbyist for the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition.
Richmond is a prolific author and speaker on transgender rights, and has served on many boards at the local, state, and national levels. She has been recognized for her work with many awards. Richmond has three degrees, all in U.S. History. Her Bachelor of Arts is from Harvard University, her Master of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. from George Washington University.
Bernice G. Scott, Member
Bernice G. Scott is a resident of Hopkins, South Carolina. She has 20 years of experience serving as a member of Richland County Council in South Carolina, including a tenure as Chairwoman. She has 15 years of experience working in county and state government, including service in Governor Jim Hodges’ administration. She is the founder of the nationally recognized grassroots political advocacy group, The Reckoning Crew. Since retiring from county government, she has been volunteering with the Tri-City Visionaries, Inc. to help senior citizens in rural and disadvantaged areas repair and secure their homes. She is the mother of two children, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Richard “Mouse” Smith, Member
Richard “Mouse” Smith is a lifelong Delawarean — his family has been in Delaware since the 1860s. Smith is the President of Delaware’s NAACP Coalition of Branches and he has been in the NAACP since 1959. He was a union president for eight years and worked at the Port of Wilmington for 42 years. Over the years, he has worked with seven Wilmington mayors and six Delaware governors. Smith helped establish the Delaware Rainbow Coalition with Jesse Jackson, which was part of the coalition to desegregate schools. Education has been integral in his life, and it is one of his main priorities for his community.
He has been friends with President Biden for over 50 years. The people and leadership of the City of Wilmington and State of Delaware made him who is today.
Joe Tate, Member
Representative Joe Tate is serving his third term and now represents Michigan’s 10th State House District, a diverse community that covers Detroit’s lower east side and the communities of the Village of Grosse Pointe Shores, Grosse Pointe Woods, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe City, and Grosse Pointe Park. Tate is Michigan’s first Black Speaker of the House, now holding the gavel and setting House priorities in a legislative term in which Democrats have the majority for the first time in over a decade. His policy priorities include uplifting Michigan families, protecting the rights of all people, ensuring workers are valued, and investing in a world-class education system, a strong infrastructure, and a thriving economy.
Tate decided to run for office as a part of his deep and lifelong commitment to public service. The value of service was taught to him by his parents—a teacher in the Detroit public school system and a Detroit firefighter. As a teenager, Tate earned a scholarship to play football at Michigan State University before joining the National Football League (NFL). After the NFL, he went on to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps, deploying twice to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. After an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, he earned both an MBA and a master’s in environmental policy and planning from the University of Michigan. Before joining the Legislature, Tate helped small businesses grow their capacity as a program manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.
Kenny D. Thompson, Jr., Member
Kenny Thompson, Jr. is the Chief Public Affairs Officer at Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN) overseeing government relations, community relations, communications, sustainability, and the Company’s social responsibility platform, EpicPromise. Vail Resorts is the leading global mountain resort operator with 41 resorts in 15 states and four countries—including some of the world’s most iconic destinations as well as travel-centric retail and hospitality businesses.
Prior to joining Vail Resorts, Thompson served as the Vice President of External Affairs, North America at PepsiCo. While at PepsiCo, he developed PepsiCo’s strategy for targeting, investing, cultivating, and maintaining partnerships with external stakeholders to support PepsiCo’s broader business goals. Before joining PepsiCo in 2013, Thompson held several positions in the Obama-Biden Administration, including Director of Message Events for then-Vice President Joe Biden, Senior Advisor to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and Special Assistant and Advance Lead for President Barack Obama. In 2020, Thompson was selected to serve on the Biden-Harris Transition as the Private Sector Liaison where he provided strategic and management oversight of the interaction with the private sector while managing relationships with Fortune 500 CEOs, Wall Street firms, venture-backed enterprises, and industry groups.
A native Texan, Thompson completed his bachelor’s degree at Texas Christian University, where he was a member of the Horned Frog baseball team. He later earned a Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University. Currently, Thompson serves on the Board of Trustees at Texas Christian University and the Board of Directors at the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation.
Benaree “Bennie” Pratt Wiley, Member
Benaree “Bennie” Pratt Wiley is a Corporate Director and Trustee. For fifteen years, Wiley was the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Partnership, Inc., an organization that strengthened Greater Boston’s capacity to attract, retain, and develop talented professionals of color. Wiley is currently a director on boards of the BNY Mellon Mutual Funds and CBIZ (NYSE: CBZ). She has served as the Chair of PepsiCo’s African American Advisory Board and formerly served on the boards of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and First Albany (NASDAQ: FACT). Her civic activities include serving on the boards of Dress for Success Boston, Spaulding Hospital, and formerly Howard University where she served as Vice Chair. She is a frequent speaker on leadership, diversity, and professional development, and has been the recipient of numerous awards, honors, and four Honorary Doctorates including from Boston College and New England School of Law. Among her many honors are induction into the Academy of Distinguished Bostonians, the Pinnacle Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, and Harvard Business School Distinguished Alumni Award from the African American Student Union. Wiley also had the honor of being featured on the cover of Boston magazine as one of Boston’s most powerful women and being the subject of a Harvard Business School case, “Bennie Wiley and The Partnership.”