DEBORAH AUGUSTINE ELAM
After a thirty year career with the multinational conglomerate, corporate pioneer Deborah Augustine Elam has retired from her dual role at General Electric as Chief Diversity Officer, as well as President of the GE Foundation.
From graduate intern to GE’s first-ever black female corporate officer, Deb dedicated her career to diversity, philanthropy, and inclusion. She oversaw efforts to embrace diversity in order to create an environment where GE employees are able to thrive and contribute to the company’s success in the global economy. Her experience spans across multiple organizations within the corporation.
An alumnus of Louisiana State University, Deb holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Her career catapulted after graduating from Southern University, where she earned a Master in Public Administration. She was quickly recruited by GE’s Human Resources Leadership Program where she undertook assignments at GE Global Exchange Services and GE Transportation. Upon successful completion of the training program, she progressed through larger HR roles within GE Consulting Services, GE Capital Mortgage Corporation, GE Capital Insurance Services, and GE Capital Markets Services. In June of 2000, Elam became Managing Director of Human Resources at GE Capital Commercial Finance.
Colleagues have cited Deb’s commitment to diversity, philanthropy, and inclusiveness as key factors to her success. In February of 2006, Deb rose to the top with a well-deserved promotion that made history. GE’s Board of Directors appointed her Chief Diversity Officer, the conglomerate’s first-ever black female corporate officer, making Deb one of the most senior women in the company.
It was apparent that Deb would continue to disrupt the status quo as she earned a lifetime of accolades, including but not limited to: one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Business; and one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Philanthropy. She is also a recipient of the Women of Excellence Legacy Award by the National Association for Female Executives, and a recipient of the Women of Power Award by the National Urban League.
In 2013, Deb’s responsibilities within the organization significantly expanded as she was appointed President of GE Foundation, where she would go on to spearhead the transformation of communities and shape the diverse workforce of tomorrow by leveraging the power of GE.
For her steadfast contributions in diversity and philanthropy, Elam was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from Clarkson University in 2016.
Deb holds membership in a number of critical organizations. She is a member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC) – an organization of the top African Americans in Corporate America; The National Black MBA Association; Delta Sigma Sorority, Inc., and The Links, Inc. Additionally, Deb is on the Board of Directors at the LSU Foundation and The New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute.
In June 2017, Deb launched Corporate Playbook, a business consulting firm in which she serves as President and CEO. The firm coaches organizations to elevate diversity, inclusion, and philanthropy. Its specializations include executive development, strategic solutions, and the empowerment of women to shatter the glass ceiling.
Cokie Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News and NPR. In her more than forty years in broadcasting, she has won countless awards, including three Emmys. She has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame, and was cited by the American Women in Radio and Television as one of the fifty greatest women in the history of broadcasting. In addition to her reporting, Roberts has written six New York Times bestsellers, most dealing with the roles of women in U.S. history.
In addition to her appearances on the airwaves, Roberts, along with her husband, Steven V. Roberts, writes a weekly column syndicated in newspapers around the country by Universal U Click. The Roberts also wrote two books together: Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families, published in 2011 and From this Day Forward, an account of their now more than fifty year marriage and other marriages in American history. The book immediately went onto The New York Times bestseller list, following Cokie Roberts’s number one bestseller, We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters, an account of American women’s roles and relationships over time.
Roberts’s books about women in American history: Founding Mothers, published in 2004 and Ladies of Liberty in 2008, and Capital Dames in 2015, about women and Washington in the Civil War—all also rated as New York Times bestsellers, along with her children’s book Founding Mothers, illustrated by Caldecott award winner Diane Goode. The two also collaborated on the children’s version of Ladies of Liberty, published in December 2016.
Cokie Roberts holds more than thirty honorary degrees, serves on the boards of several non-profit institutions and President Bush appointed her to his Commission on Service and Civic Participation. In 2008 the Library of Congress named her a “Living Legend,” one of the very few Americans to have attained that honor. She is the mother of two and grandmother of six.
Camille Whitworth - Mistress of Ceremonies
Camille Whitworth is a 25-year professional journalist and creator of newly formed media company, Media by Design, which specializes in public speaking, media consulting, commercial production and media coaching. She is also a successful entrepreneur. She's the owner of Victory and the New Orleans Drink Lab in New Orleans.
Camille can currently be seen on WWLTV as host of the Healthy Lifestyles Segment presented by East Jefferson General Hospital. Camille was with WDSU TV from 2003-2016 and co-anchored WDSU News weeknights at 4, 5 and 6 p.m. She has spent the last 25 years covering news in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and most recently in Southeast Louisiana.
In addition to her anchoring duties, Camille covered daily news stories, including major political stories, crime, health care and hospital issues, the conditions of schools in New Orleans and more. She has also reported on major weather and environmental disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in American history, the BP Gulf Coast oil spill and Hurricane Isaac. For her coverage on some of these stories, Camille has received several awards from the Press Club of New Orleans.
Before coming New Orleans, Whitworth worked at WNCN NBC 17, the NBC owned and operated station in Raleigh, N.C., where she broke several stories of national importance. Whitworth also covered the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, for NBC. She was regularly featured on networks such as CNN, MSNBC and CNBC.
Prior to that, Whitworth worked at WAVE 3 in Louisville, KY. She was involved in national coverage of the Kentucky Derby and other hour-long, live programs. She also helped create, plan and co-host an annual awards ceremony, "WAVE 3 STEP Awards" which honored minority community leaders for their excellence in local leadership. While at WAVE, Camille was nominated for an Ohio Valley Regional Emmy for Spot News coverage. She is also the recipient of numerous AP Awards and holds honors from the Kentucky Chapter of the National Press Photographers Association for excellence in reporting.
Whitworth is very active in the New Orleans community and gives much of her time to non-profit groups and charities; among them, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, March Of Dimes, National Association of Black Journalists, Children's Hospital, The New Orleans Council on Aging and Young Audiences of Louisiana.
She serves on the board of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Appleseed Louisiana and the March of Dimes. She is a proud member of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Committee and The Links, Inc. Crescent City Chapter.
Andrea Chen is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation. Founded in 2009, Propeller grows and supports entrepreneurs to tackle social and environmental disparities in the areas of water, food, health, and education. Since founding, Propeller has accelerated over 130+ ventures that have generated over $82mm in revenue and financing, launched a 10,000 s.f. co-working space, and provided over $150k in seed funding to entrepreneurs. Prior to joining Propeller, Ms. Chen worked at the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools where she oversaw grant making for over $5 million in charter school startup funds and launched a loan fund. She was named a 2016 Business Person of the Year by Biz New Orleans, "40 Under 40" by Gambit Magazine, 2010 City Business Women of the Year, 2014 Aspen Institute Scholar, 2014 BALLE Fellow, 2014 Norman C. Francis Institute Fellow,
and serves on the boards of Public Lab and Bureau of Governmental Research. She graduated from Stanford University, attended Harvard Graduate School of Education and the University of New Orleans, and was trained in business at Dartmouth University's Tuck School of Business.
Chelsea C. Hayes, SPHR is the CEO & Principal Consultant of The Coaching Factory LLC. Based out of Los Angeles she leads an innovative consulting firm delivering solutions in Executive Coaching, Human Resources Counsel & Training/Development. Clients include American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, Fundation & University of Minnesota. Chelsea earned Bachelor’s Degrees in Public Relations & Public Health Promotion from Purdue University & a Masters Degree in Communication from Northwestern University. She is a Certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and her work has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter and The Dow Jones publication Moneyish.
Prior to launching TCF, Chelsea was the Director of HR at the LA Sparks and held several roles at General Electric (GE) in Corporate Diversity and HR. Chelsea is an avid fitness fan and proud member of the College of Liberal Arts Alumni Board of Directors at Purdue University.