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Our Mission

Black Public Media supports the development of visionary content creators and distributes
stories about the global Black experience to inspire a more equitable and inclusive future.

Our Team

Our Board

Thank You To Our Supporters

Individual Donors & Friends

We are thankful for the many donors and friends who support Black Public Media’s mission to present
purposeful media and nurture Black storytellers to reach further heights. 

Annual Report

Black Public Media met its mission admirably in 2022. We continued to serve independent media makers by funding their projects, providing professional development training, and helping them grow their professional networks. Read our Annual Report to learn more about our achievements and challenges last year and how you can get involved.

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BPM History Timeline

Public Television is Born

Public Television is Born

  • 1967
President Lyndon Johnson signs the Public Television Act.
Task Force On Minorities in Public Broadcasting Is Formed

Task Force On Minorities in Public Broadcasting Is Formed

  • 1977
In January 1977, the Human Resources Development Committee of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s board of directors endorses formulation of a Task Force on Minorities in Public Broadcasting. The mission of the 28-member group — chaired by Dr. Gloria Long Anderson, the CPB board’s vice chair and a Morris Brown chemistry professor — is to assist the CPB board in developing policies that will “maximize the growth, development, employment, and participation of minorities in all aspects of public broadcasting.”

‘A Formula For Change’ Is Published

  • 1978
The Task Force on Minorities in Public Broadcasting releases “A Formula For Change,” a 90-page report containing the results of the 28-member task force’s research. The report includes 46 key findings and 70 key recommendations for improvement in five main areas: public broadcasting policy, employment, job training programs, programming, minority control, and audience research.
NBPC is Born

NBPC is Born

  • 1979
Black Public Media was founded as the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) in Columbus, Ohio.
NBPC Names 1st Executive Director

NBPC Names 1st Executive Director

  • 1980
Mable Haddock is named NBPC’s executive director.

‘The Black Stream’ Begins

  • 1980
NBPC begins coordinating “The Black Stream” PBS series, hosted by Bill Greaves.

Inaugural NBPC Annual Meeting

  • 1981
NBPC holds its first annual conference.

Prized Pieces Film Festival Begins

  • 1982
NBPC hosts the first Prized Pieces Film Festival, showcasing work by Black indie filmmakers.

‘State of Black America’ Broadcast

  • 1984
The “State of Black America” airs on PBS (an NBPC co-production with the National Urban League).

CPB Defunds NBPC

  • 1986
In response to federal budget cuts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) cuts BPM funding.
‘Eyes on the Prize’ Airs on PBS

‘Eyes on the Prize’ Airs on PBS

  • 1987

Henry Hampton’s six-episode documentary, “Eyes on the Prize,” is broadcast nationwide on PBS over the course of several weeks. The series earns Blackside Productions several prestigious honors including Emmy, Peabody, and IDA awards.

ITVS Launches

  • 1989
The Independent Television Service (ITVS) is founded.
NBPC Regains CPB Funding

NBPC Regains CPB Funding

  • 1990
NBPC regains CPB funding after a four-year hiatus.
‘Daughters of the Dust’ is Released

‘Daughters of the Dust’ is Released

  • 1991
Filmmaker Julie Dash’s independent film, “Daughters of the Dust,” is released. The film is one of the first recipients of NBPC’s newly created project development fund and it is the first feature film directed by an African American woman to be distributed theatrically in the United States.

NBPC Video Store Opens

  • 1991
NBPC opens a video store in Columbus, Ohio.

NBPC Convenes Black Public Media Executives and Producers

  • 1995
NBPC hosts a convening of public media’s African American executives and producers.

‘Africans in America: America’s Journey Through Slavery’ Airs On PBS

  • 1998
Receives a 1998 Peabody Award. BPM Game Changers involved with the project include Orlando Bagwell (executive producer), Llewellyn Smith, Jacquie Jones and Noland Walker (episodic producers), and Marita Rivero (WGBH executive in charge of production).

NBPC Relocates to Harlem

  • 2000
NBPC moves from Columbus, Ohio, to Harlem, New York. The first office is on the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Ave.

‘Matters of Race’ Airs On PBS

  • 2003
Funded by NBPC and other members of public television’s National Minority Consortium (now National Multicultural Alliance), Orlando Bagwell’s Rojo Productions airs its groundbreaking four-part series, “Matters of Race,” on PBS.

Prized Pieces Film Festival Ends

  • 2004
NBPC hosts its last Prized Pieces Film Festival at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The opening film was Yvonne Smith’s documentary, “Parliament-Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove.”
NBPC Founder Steps Down, Jones Succeeds Her

NBPC Founder Steps Down, Jones Succeeds Her

  • 2005
NBPC founder Mable Haddock steps down as executive director; Jacquie Jones takes her place.

NBPC Launches Its First Web Series

  • 2006
In response to Hurricane Katrina, NBPC launches its first online web series “The Katrina Project” featuring web-only video and audio shorts about the impact Katrina had on New Orleans’ Black community.

New Media Institute Emerges

  • 2006
NBPC introduces its New Media Institute, a professional development program geared towards understanding and navigating digital and social media technology.
NBPC Launches AfroPoP

NBPC Launches AfroPoP

  • 2006
NBPC introduces the first season of “AfroPoP: The UItimate Cultural Exchange,” hosted by Idris Elba.

Public Media Corps Is Launched

  • 2010
NBPC launches the Public Media Corps, a service to promote and extend broadband adoption in underserved communities. Fellows skilled in technology, media production, and outreach are placed in residencies at underperforming high schools, public broadcast stations, and nonprofit community anchor institutions.

Digital Media Production Fund Is Born

  • 2012
NBPC launches the Digital Media Production Fund, a program grant initiative to support web series. “Black Folk Don’t,” by producer Angela Tucker, is among the first projects funded through this initiative.
NBPC Doc Wins A Peabody

NBPC Doc Wins A Peabody

  • 2012
“180 Days: Inside an American High School,” wins a Peabody Award. Series is produced and directed by Jacquie Jones and Garland McLaurin.
Jones Steps Down, Fields-Cruz Succeeds Her

Jones Steps Down, Fields-Cruz Succeeds Her

  • 2014
Jacquie Jones steps down as NBPC executive director. She is succeeded by VP of Programming Leslie Fields-Cruz.
The 360 Incubator+ Is Born

The 360 Incubator+ Is Born

  • 2016
NBPC introduces the 360 Incubator+ funding initiative. It is designed to identify innovative storytellers across various public media. NBPC also launches PitchBLACK, an interactive session during which Incubator Plus fellows pitch their projects to industry leaders who select the PitchBLACK grantees.

MacArthur Foundation Grants NBPC $750,000

  • 2017
NBPC wins a $750,000 MacArthur Foundation Grant.

The BPMplus VR Mixer Series Begins

  • 2018
Extended Reality (XR) specialist/educator/producer Lisa Osborne is appointed to direct BPM’s new emerging media program, which launches the BPMplus VR Mixer series and various XR media training programs.
NBPC Becomes BPM

NBPC Becomes BPM

  • 2018
NBPC is rebranded as Black Public Media.
Black Media Story Summit

Black Media Story Summit

  • 2018
BPM hosts the inaugural National Black Media Story Summit in NYC. The assemblage of creatives, thought leaders, media technologists, funders, investors, and distributors engages in a series of conversations exploring ways to expand the distribution pipeline for Black content.
‘The Black Paper’ Is Published

‘The Black Paper’ Is Published

  • 2018
BPM publishes “The Black Paper,” featuring highlights and recommendations from the 2018 Black Media Story Summit.

Jones Memorial Scholarship and NCU Fellowship Launched

  • 2019
BPM announces winners of the inaugural Jacquie Jones Memorial Scholarship and the Nonso Christian Ugbode Fellowship. Both programs commemorate the contributions of trailblazing BPM employees posthumously.
Regional Black Media Story Summits Launch

Regional Black Media Story Summits Launch

  • 2019
BPM launches a new series of Regional Black Media Story Summits. The first four are held in Raleigh, N.C.; Newark, N.J.; Houston, Texas, and St. Paul, Minn.

40th Anniversary Celebration

  • 2020
BPM celebrates its 40th Anniversary and hosts the second National Black Media Story Summit virtually, due to COVID-19.
Carol Bash is the founder and president of Paradox Films, an award-winning documentary filmmaker with over 25 years of experience. Her most recent film — a short, titled Morning at Hemlock Hill Farm — showcases the natural beauty of a Peekskill, NY, local farm. The film was part of Putnam Arts Council’s Grass + Roots Exhibit (October 2021); Peekskill Arts Alliance “Re-emergence” exhibit (June 2021); and the Peekskill Arts Grants “Displays of Affection” exhibit (March 2021). Carol’s feature documentary, Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band, about a renowned yet unsung jazz genius, was broadcast nationally on public television in 2015. The film screened at international and domestic film festivals, where it garnered multiple awards. Carol has worked with several prestigious documentary production companies in roles ranging from producer, director, cinematographer, archival producer, coordinating producer and associate producer. Most notably, she has worked as archival producer on Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities, which was broadcast nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens series.
A headshot selfie of Carol Bash resting her chin in her hand.

Carol Bash


She’s also worked on Freedom Riders, which won three Primetime Emmy awards and premiered on PBS’ American Experience series; on Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promise, a one-hour PBS documentary; and on A Place of Our Own, which aired nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens series. Carol sits on the board of the Peekskill Arts Alliance and is an Organizer/Programmer of the annual Peekskill Film Festival. She also is a former Black Public Media artist-in-residence and a Firelight Media Documentary Lab fellow.

Diane Carr-Joseph serves as the Business Manager for National Black Programming Consortium. She is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the organization including human resources, financial forecasting, resource allocation, fund management, accounting and control. Diane holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting from Baruch College New York.

A headshot of Diane Carr-Joseph against a city skyline in the background.

Diane Carr-Joseph


Leslie Fields-Cruz is the executive director of Black Public Media, the nation’s only nonprofit solely dedicated to the development of nonfiction Black content for distribution on public media. Leslie joined BPM in 2001 to manage its program development fund. She served as director of programs from 2005-2008 and as VP of programs and operations from 2008-2014 before being named BPM’s third executive director in 2014. Leslie is the creator of BPM’s award-winning anthology series, AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, now in its 14th season, which features contemporary stories from the African diaspora. Under her leadership, BPM has cultivated new partnerships, diversified revenues, and initiated vital new programs (360 Incubator+, PitchBLACK Forum & Awards, BPMplus, and the Black Media Story Summit) that support Black talent and content development. In 2021, Leslie was named to Crain’s New York’s list of Notable Black Business Leaders. A graduate of U.C. Berkeley (BA) and NYU (MA), she is a board member of New Era Creative Space, and in September 2022, was named board president of New York Women in Film and Television.
A headshot of Leslie Fields-Cruz against a city skyline in the background.

Leslie Fields-Cruz


Denise A. Greene is the Director of Programs at Black Public Media (BPM) overseeing the organization’s key funding (Open Call, PitchBLACK), professional development (360 Incubator+) and distribution initiatives (Be Heard, AfroPop and AfroPop Digital Shorts) for traditional media projects. As the Director, Denise directs the creative vision for BPM’s long standing multi-episode broadcast series,  AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange as well as the newest productions, Be Heard and AfroPop Digital Shorts.  Denise comes to BPM with experience as an independent filmmaker working in children’s programming (Sesame Street) and documentaries for which she received  Emmy (Malcolm X: Make It Plain) and Peabody (I’ll Make Me A World) awards.  Denise’s earlier work also includes various positions in the industry including her work with Orlando Bagwell during the launch of the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms unit. With this foundation, Denise embraces the BPM mission to uplift  Black storytellers and Black stories in all its rich diversity.

A headshot of Denise Greene against a neutral white background.

Denise Greene


Within her recent tenure, Denise has helped to broaden the types of stories and creative approaches under the BPM banner with children’s projects, podcasts, narrative shorts and experimental documentaries while continuing to build on the impressive catalog of historical documentaries.  Also, with BPM’s tradition of presenting critical issues through a Black lens, Denise steers the Programs division in seeking out and  supporting daring stories on timely issues such as environmental justice, mental health, reparations, gender affirmation and more.  Before her current position, Denise served as BPM’s  Director of the New Media Institute, a groundbreaking professional development program training mid-career filmmakers in the latest digital technologies bringing attention to Black trailblazers in the emerging media space.  In addition, she played an instrumental role in producing BPM’s inaugural Story Summit, a national convening  which produced The Black Paper on the state of the industry distributed to key stakeholders in the field.  Denise is a proud member of New York Women in Film & Television and Brown Girls Doc Mafia.  When she’s not watching films or listening to podcasts, Denise is in a hot yoga room or a refreshing lap pool.

Eboni Johnson-Kaba comes to BPM having served as director of education and outreach for the Denton Black Film Festival, where she helped launch the DBFF Institute, which offers interactive workshops, seminars and other educational programs. In that position, she worked closely with BPM staff to co-produce our Technically Brilliant Show, a DBFF and BPM collaboration.

Eboni holds a master’s degree in documentary filmmaking from the University of North Texas. Her filmmaking credits include having worked as director/producer on two short films, Songs Remembered and Unrequited Dreams; as director of photography/editor for The Last March; as sound recordist for The Straight Race and Somewhere In Between; and as producer/sound editor on Good Soil, Good Souls: The Story of Bonton Farms.
A headshot of Eboni Johnson-Kaba against a neutral grey background.

Eboni Johnson-Kaba


DeLynda Lindsey joined BPM as Contracts and Reports Specialist in 2022. She brings years of professional experience as a grant writer and grant manager, having worked since 2005 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s rich foundation and nonprofit communities. Her professional aim is to advance the missions of nonprofits for the betterment of society and humanity through fundraising. Her passion for storytelling is informed by her experiences in human services, working directly with those in need and raising funds on their behalf. DeLynda has spent most of the last decade fundraising for nonprofit public media by securing foundation, government and corporate grants on local, regional and national levels.
DeLynda currently resides in Pittsburgh, where she was born and raised. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and human services administration from Chatham College (now University), and her master’s in social work with a concentration in social administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
A neck up headshot of DeLynda Lindsey against a dark background.

DeLynda Lindsey

Contracts & Grants Specialist

Lisa Osborne believes that storytelling is a powerful change agent—for individuals, groups, and entire cultures. As Black Public Media’s Director of Emerging Media Initiatives, she introduces independent filmmakers to the storytelling potential of virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and similar technology. Her current priority is increasing Black creative participation in the VR industry. Early in her career, Lisa helped Turner launch its first online magazine, ran adidas.com while based in Germany and The Netherlands, and supervised productions at the American Film Institute’s incubator, working with ABC, NBC, MTV, ITVS, Cartoon Network, and PBS (Independent Lens, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Design:e2) to create interactive prototypes. After AFI, she worked independently for film and TV clients, plus created and taught a digital marketing class for Carnegie Mellon University. She earned a journalism degree from Northwestern University and has a strong interest in developing family, YA, science fiction, and fantasy content.
A headshot of Lisa Osborne against a neutral grey background.

Lisa Osborne


Kat Walsh (they/them) is the social media manager for Black Public Media. The 2019 graduate of Ithaca College holds a B.F.A in film, photography, and visual arts. They also minored in international politics.
As BPM’s social media manager, Kat works with marketing, communications and engagement partners Cheryl D. Fields and Eboni Johnson, and leads the planning, implementation and monitoring BPM’s social media strategy, which aims to increase brand awareness and audience engagement, and to improve BPM’s marketing and sales efforts.
Kat’s work as a filmmaker focuses on the discrepancies young people face regarding race, gender and sexuality. Their most recent film, Chick Flicks (where they worked as director of photography) is a documentary about the misogyny and sexism apparent in film school and how it translates into the entertainment industry.
A headshot of Kat Walsh against a neutral grey background.

Kat Walsh


Qiona Woffard is BPM’s manager of special programs. She joined Black Public Media in January 2020 as a program associate, working with Denise Greene, director of program initiatives. In that role she supported BPM’s Open Call, AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, and the 360 Incubator+ Program, among other projects.
In 2021, Qiona was instrumental in securing a partnership for BPM with the National Network to Innovate for COVID-19 and Adult Vaccine Equity (NNICE). NNICE is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of their National Partnering for Vaccine Equity Initiative. BPM’s focus within the initiative is to host Black Media Story Summits to facilitate the creation of media stories that inspire increased vaccination rates within Black communities. As BPM’s team leader on the NNICE Initiative, Qiona works with Eboni Johnson, BPMs engagement manager, and members of NNICE to support Black creatives and communities in the fight against COVID-19.
A headshot of Qiona Woffard against a neutral grey background.

Qiona Woffard


Cheryl D. Fields

Cheryl’s storytelling career began as a journalist. Her work covering business and education has appeared in publications including the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Business Journal, the LA Weekly, and Diverse Issues in Higher Education. After years serving as Diverse’s executive editor, she left the newsroom to join the Washington, D.C.-based Langhum Mitchell Communications. Cheryl is the founding producer and former co-anchor of WOLB’s award-winning Lunch with Labor talk show and podcast in Baltimore. In her current role, as director of marketing, communications and engagement at Black Public Media, she spearheads efforts to broaden the organization’s influence and visibility on the public media landscape. A Bryn Mawr College graduate, Cheryl also holds a master’s in print journalism from the University of Southern California, and is a former media management fellow of the Poynter Institute of Media Studies.

A headshot of Cheryl Fields against a neutral beige background.

Cheryl D. Fields

Marketing & Communications Director

After over twelve years of investment experience, Guy-Max Delphin opened Delphin Investments. Currently, he is the Senior Portfolio Manager heading Fundamental Research and Macro/Top-Down overlay. Mr. Delphin’s extensive experience includes the Yale-New Haven Health System as a leading Investment Strategist, Senior Analyst at Fortis Investments, and Senior Associate of Equity Research in the Small-Cap Industrials group, a division of Jefferies & Company, Inc. Mr. Delphin also held an Associate Analyst position within the Prudential Equity Group, LLC. Early in his career, Guy-Max functioned as a quantitative analyst in the Investment Product Design and Risk Management Group divisions of OppenheimerFunds, Inc. In 2012, he joined the NYC Special Education Collaborative, an organization working with charter schools advocating sustainable, high-quality special education programs. Mr. Delphin is on the Stony Brook Foundation Board of Trustees and serves as Chair of the College of Business Advisory Board. His philanthropic activities focus on education and healthcare. Mr. Delphin received a M.S. in Financial Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of NYU, in addition to B.S. degrees in both Applied Mathematics and Economics from Stony Brook University.

A headshot of Guy-Max Delphin against a neutral grey background.

Guy-Max Delphin


Deniese Davis got her start in entertainment by producing indie low-budget projects including music videos, short films and digital content. In the web-series realm she is best known for producing Issa Rae’s award-winning web series “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl”. She is currently a Producer on the HBO comedy series INSECURE and an Executive Producer on the upcoming HBO limited series THE DOLLS while continuing to produce and oversee content for Issa Rae Productions. She also serves as COO of ColorCreative, which provides access and opportunities for diverse and emerging writers and recently sold their first feature film LOVE IN AMERICA to Universal. Originally from Las Vegas NV, Deniese is an alum of CUNY-Brooklyn College and the American Film Institute Conservatory.

A headshot of Deniese Davis against a neutral grey background.

Deniese Davis


Valerie is a certified project management professional with a long career in the overlapping fields of communications, journalism and literacy. In addition to authoring three children’s books and being doctoral candidate (literacy), she has more than 20 years’ experience in marketing and communications, and has worked with private clients and for major corporate brands including Volvo, Disney and Deloitte.

In healthcare and medical communications and marketing, Valerie most recently worked at Columbia University Medical Center in the department of ophthalmology, where she also served on the CUMC Strategic Communications Task Force. Earlier in her career, Valerie served as a healthcare writer and marketing communications manager for Medial Data International.
A headshot of Valerie Williams-Sanchez against a watercolor brown background.

Valerie Williams-Sanchez

In addition to her work in the healthcare and medical space, Valerie served as an educator and marketing communications consultant through her company Valorena Online, L.L.C. An off-shoot of this work, Valerie has led workshops on marketing communications and digital marketing, and published peer-reviewed articles and children’s books aimed at building literacy. Her Cocoa Kids Collection of books includes: Isaiah and the Chocolate MountainEddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rodand Lorena and the Magic Mocha Mirror. She also is the blogger behind Valerie’s Vignettes.
Valerie has written and contributed to articles and essays in Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Orange County Business Journal, and More magazine, online in the U.S. and in Spain. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Antonia Carew-Watts is General Counsel for WLIW21 and a senior attorney for WNET. WNET is America’s flagship PBS station, which operates New York’s channel THIRTEEN, Long Island’s WLIW21, and New Jersey’s NJTV. Ms. Carew-Watts advises WLIW21 on issues relating to production, intellectual property and new media, underwriting, and labor and employment, among other matters. In addition, she is counsel for THIRTEEN’s long-running award-winning biography series, American Masters.

Ms. Carew-Watts joined the WNET family in 2013 and was appointed General Counsel for WLIW21 in January 2016. Prior to joining WNET, she was an associate in the intellectual property practice group at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.
A headshot of Antonia Carew-Watts against a neutral grey background.

Antonia Carew-Watts


She received her B.A. from Yale University in 1991 and her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2009. Prior to law school, she enjoyed a long career in entertainment and arts, working in development for non-profit performance space The Kitchen, and non-profit production company Rainbow Television Workshop, as well as serving on the design teams for numerous television series and features, and theme-parks for Walt Disney Imagineering. Ms. Carew-Watts is a former Director of the Association of Black Women Attorneys.

As the Opportunity Agenda’s senior coordinator for capacity building, Eva-Marie develops a comprehensive and strategically sequenced set of tools and resources to promote organization’s internal and external capacity building. Utilizing skills and expertise in organizational development, strategic communications, and technology, Eva-Marie creates innovative training programs.

Eva-Marie has extensive experience developing communications systems and strategic communications at nationally-known legal organizations and publications such as the Pro Bono Institute, New Jersey Lawyer, and American Immigration Lawyers Association. Eva-Marie has a B.A. from Wheaton College and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.
A headshot selfie of Eva-Marie Malone against an outdoor apartment balcony background.

Eva-Marie Malone

Samantha is a transformational leader with more than 20 years serving in private and nonprofit sector roles leading dynamic growth teams. She’s a skilled relationship architect in strategic corporate partnerships and engagement board development and management with an exercised level of comfort engaging with high level domestic and international stakeholders. She is known to be an agile strategist with deep knowledge and experience in co-designing and executing strategic plans with data driven outcomes.

Samantha is the founder & CEO of Color Lens Consulting, a boutique consultancy firm focusing on creating business connections beyond borders through government advisory. She is known as a global ecosystem leader equipping and advising entrepreneurs at every stage of their journey. As founder and CEO of her family company, they have built Caribbean restaurants in the Maryland/DC area and have a vision to expand.

A headshot of Samantha Abrams against a neutral grey background.

Samantha Abrams


Samantha has served on numerous boards and commissions. She is an appointee to the National Women’s Business Council by The Honorable Isabella Guzman, Administrator of The U.S. Small Business Administration. She is on the advisory board for the University of Guyana Foundation, an advisor for the Guyana Economic Development Trust and several early-stage impact companies. In addition, she sits on the board of directors for Black Public Media and is a founding board member of the Social Justice School. Samantha holds a bachelor of science degree from Bowie State University.

Allison Simmons is an award-winning television executive with more than thirty years of experience in the industry. Currently, she is Senior Director of Programming, Production and Development for TV ONE, where she oversees the network’s signature crime series (Fatal Attraction, Sins of the City and ATL Homicide). Previously, she was the Head of Development for startup TV company OZY Media. Allison spent three years as VP of Development for Releve Entertainment, a minority owned-production company known for its music and faith-based content including the Preachers of LA franchise and The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel movie for Lifetime. Allison’s always had a passion for telling stories about people of color. Over the years, she has developed shows for Amazon, Own and Lifetime including Black=Beauty Executive-Produced by Queen Latifah. 

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Allison Simmons

As Senior Director of Unscripted Programming at BET, she launched Queen Boss, a business competition show for African-American women. She also worked as a segment producer on the popular daytime talk show Dr. Phil. Allison got her start in television at ABC NEWS when she worked as a desk assistant for Peter Jennings. Allison is a graduate of Princeton University. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, she now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Chris, a senior story analyst for Warner Bros. Discovery and their two college-aged sons.

Janis Smith-Gomez is an experienced commercial leader of Fortune 50 companies and iconic brands, positioning global enterprises for competitive advantage and market leadership. Over 30 years, Janis leveraged key areas of expertise to succeed as an accomplished innovator, talent champion and value creator at Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Kraft and PepsiCo. She is a visionary marketing strategist and people leader driving transformation at the intersection of company purpose, go-to-market strategy and culture to deliver positive outcomes as well as accelerate sales and share growth. She is a passionate storyteller and uses her ethical leadership and DEI&A advocacy to develop meaningful narratives and curate content to strengthen brand reputation, inspire and empower others and increase engagement for all stakeholders in a digital-first and ESG-principled world.

A headshot of Janis Smith-Gomez against a blurred outdoor background.

Janis Smith-Gomez

Janis has a long history of non-profit board service. She currently is on the Board of Trustees of The New York Academy of Medicine (Nominating Committee Chair, Development Committee, Retirement Plan Committee) and is a member of the Vanderbilt University Parents and Friends Association Board.
Janis is a member of the Executive Leadership Council and a Brand 50 Advisor, part of the World 50 community. Janis is a graduate of the University of Chicago with an MBA in Marketing and Business Policy and a BA in Professional Option: Business. Want to be a part of B

Jon C. Walls is a senior finance executive possessing over 30 years of experience with Fortune 500 companies and small to mid-sized businesses. Jon began his career at Lehman Brothers where he served as a Senior Vice President of Investment Banking until 2000 with an industry specialization in Financial Institutions. While at Lehman, he developed his deep expertise in delivering complex M&A, equity and fixed income solutions to sophisticated clients. Over a span of eight years he successfully executed more than 30 transactions totaling over $16 billion in mergers and acquisitions and over $5 billion in debt and equity financings.

Jon’s most recent experiences includes his roles as CFO of an early stage investor backed B2B healthcare finance and analytics company, Managing Director at a boutique investment banking firm and co-Director of an Los Angeles based Entrepreneurship Center.   Prior to that, he spent over 8 years leading a professional staff as President of an insurance brokerage he acquired with private equity and property management partners.  In addition, for more than ten years, Jon was the instructor of S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Fundamentals of Bank Valuation, a seminar he designed which was offered throughout the country. Jon has also held senior leadership roles at a mortgage bank and a technology start-up.

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Jon Walls

Jon holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, a JD from Harvard Law School (Cum Laude) and a BA from Yale University.

Travis Mitchell serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Content Officer at Maryland Public Television. He oversees all content created, acquired, and aired on the statewide public television network’s TV channels and online properties. Having amassed more than three decades of experience as an executive in commercial and public media, Mitchell earned an undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and education from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in Philadelphia. He completed further executive education study at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mr. has served on the foundation board of Morgan State University and as a member of PBS Children’s Media and Education Working Group, the PBS/CPB Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group and the National Cable Television Association Policy Issues Committee. Most recently Mitchell became the Chair of the Board of Visitors for Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communications. In 2021, Mr. Mitchell was appointed to the Board of Trustees at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he also received an honorary doctor of humane letters from the university in recognition of his more than 25 years of service to the community as a media and non-profit executive.

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Travis Mitchell

Adrena Ifill is a connector and communicator who uses various mediums to shine a bold light on mission-aligned people, projects and organizations. She recognizes the power of narrative and first-person authorship. She is working on amplifying stories of care, centering women of color leaders, too often unrecognized and erased in historic accounts. Adrena is often consulted for her expertise in communication strategies, project management, media production, organization development, and equity, access, and inclusion. Looking at history and anticipating the future, she believes in the power of research and preservation in partnership with technology. As CEO and Founder of DoubleBack Global Group, Adrena curates historical and cultural assets, digs into personal and public archives, and produces engaging events. She has a proven record of inspiring multidimensional teams to achieve unprecedented results by orchestrating complex projects, productions, and processes. Her creative works have won many awards for writing, directing, and film production. Adrena’s documentary about Rep. Robert Smalls, who was enslaved in South Carolina and served as a five-term US congressman during the 19th century, received national and international acclaim. She was most recently a 2020 AADHum Scholar at the University of Maryland, focusing on access and equity in the collection and distribution of archival materials. Her work was also recognized by the Society of American Archivists. A graduate of Williams College, Howard University and George Washington University, Adrena serves on several educational and philanthropic boards.
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Adrena Ifill