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Speaker Biographies

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    2020 Full Speaker Biographies


    • James Wright -  Diversity & Inclusion Strategist, Trainer and Speaker 


    More Concurrent Session Speakers Coming Soon


    James Wright -  Diversity & Inclusion Strategist, Trainer and Speaker - Senior Manager, Inclusion & Diversity, Apple

    Session: Keynote Address

    James Wright is a dynamic and compelling leader with a demonstrated ability to inspire and catalyze large corporations to develop strategic plans and programs that frequently receive national recognition for their effectiveness in Diversity and Inclusion. With a track record of delivering practical roadmaps for increasing Diversity in global corporations such as Apple Inc., LinkedIn, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia (Time Warner), Verizon (MCI), and respected industry organizations, James has become a sought-after speaker in the field of diversity and inclusion, human resources, and social media. A featured guest on NBC and FOX, Wright’s articles and commentary appear frequently on LinkedIn and his expertise has been included in The Washington Post as well as several SHRM articles.

    James, previously a senior leader of Inclusion and Diversity at Apple Inc, led a dedicated team focused on Inclusion Recruiting and External Partnerships. He was also a senior leader in LinkedIn’s Inclusion Recruiting as well as NBCUniversal’s Talent Acquisition focused on pipeline development. In addition, James held roles in AOL’s Operations group as an Engineer and worked in Law & Public Policy at MCI – the nation’s second largest telecommunications company at the time. Additional experience includes organizing lobbying conventions and political visits for senior government officials including two U.S. Presidents.

    In recent years, Wright has built a reputation for enabling organizations to not only achieve and leverage Diversity in the workplace but utilize it effectively to gain speed and flexibility in trend-spotting, decision-making and building a widespread mindset of Inclusion to deliver high levels of employee satisfaction and increased productivity.

    With thought-provoking content and a masterful use of technology, James built his website,, to engage audiences with a provocative style that delivers learning that transforms consciousness. He approaches his work with the notion that we – YES, ALL OF US – have a multitude of opportunities in the day to engage, encourage, listen to, and learn from someone who is different from ourselves. Wright constantly poses the question: how will you use today to advance authentic inclusion?

    James attended Erskine College in SC & The Catholic University of America in Washington DC.

    Find out more about James at

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    Julia Mendez Achee, SHRM-CP, CDP, CAAP, PHR, CELS -  Principle Business Consultant for Affirmity

    Session: TBD

    Julia Méndez Achée is Principal Business Consultant for Affirmity. She is based out of the New Orleans area.  Ms. Achée’s current duties include overseeing the training programs for customers as well as creating content and delivering training in areas such as equal employment opportunity (EEO), affirmative action (AA) compliance, and diversity.  She also has over 20 years of experience in assisting clients through OFCCP compliance reviews and offering technical assistance both to clients and internal customers. She has also been invited to speak at national, regional and local conferences on topics such as recruiter compliance with AAPs, regulatory requirements for veterans, and individuals with physical and mental disabilities, updates on EEO laws and settlements, as well as recognizing unconscious bias and other diversity topics.

    Ms. Achée is a graduate of University of New Orleans where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in General Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration.  She also has a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University where she graduated with distinction. Ms. Mendez was appointed in 2016 by the governor of Louisiana to the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights. She holds a Professional in Human Resources certification from the HR Certification Institute, is a Society of Human Resources Professional Certified Professional, is a Certified Employment Law Specialist from Columbia Southern University, is a Certified Affirmative Action Professional from the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity as well as is a Certified Diversity Professional through the Institute for Diversity Certification.

    Memberships in professional organizations include the Louisiana Liaison Group (LLG) where she served in 2007 and 2008 as President and continues to serve on the board; Society for Human Resource Management; New Orleans SHRM where she served as Diversity Chairperson from 2007-2011; Society for Diversity, and is a member and past Personnel Committee Chair for the American Association for Access, Equality, and Diversity for which she contributed monthly to their EEO Tips section of their email publication.  She also serves on the editorial board for INSIGHT into Diversity and is active with the Inclusion Allies Coalition.

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    Kimya S. P. Johnson - Senior Counsel at Ogletree Deakins

    Session: Driving Success in Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives

    For over 25 years, Kimya S.P. Johnson has been a champion for her clients in a career that spans law, politics, education, and diversity & inclusion management. Kimya serves as Co-Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Practice at Ogletree Deakins, one of the nation’s largest labor and employment law firms.

    Kimya supports a wide range of employers in their efforts to provide legally-compliant, effective, and organizationally-integrative diversity and inclusion plans. She represents clients by providing D&I-related compliance and risk-reduction services, D&I program assessment and implementation assistance, and D&I-integrated business strategy and leadership development opportunities.

    Prior to joining Ogletree Deakins, Kimya served as the first Director of Diversity & Inclusion at an AmLaw 100 law firm and she also practiced law in the labor and employment group. In her diversity management role, Kimya led the firm’s efforts to recruit, develop, retain, promote and advance diverse attorneys across the firm’s 26 offices in the U.S., Europe and Canada.  Working closely with executive leadership and management across company functions, Kimya built systems, developed processes, and executed a host of programs designed to increase diversity within the firm and to promote its core value of inclusion.  As an employment lawyer, Kimya handled the myriad of employment and labor-related matters, including affirmative action/EEO law, employment discrimination claims, complaint reporting, procedures and investigations, downsizing processes, wage and hour disputes, and union/management relations at the state and federal levels.  She also provided human resource counseling, management/workforce training, human resource policy and handbook creation, and litigation defense to clients across a range of industries.

    Kimya was recognized as a “Lawyer on the Fast Track” by The Legal Intelligencer, as a “PA Rising Star in Employment & Labor” by SuperLawyers Magazine, and as an “Influential Woman” by the NAACP, Philadelphia Chapter.  She also received the “MultiCultural Leadership Award” from the National Diversity Council.

    Kimya has been directly engaged with a host of community, educational, political and social service endeavors for decades.  Before practicing law, Kimya was a public elementary school teacher in South Bronx, New York and received the Sallie Mae Excellence in Teaching Award. More recently, she served as Campaign Manager for a candidate for U.S. Congress who garnered more votes than any other primary challenger candidate in the state. Further, Kimya has first-hand experience with non-profit incorporation, management and governance through, among others, Dare to Imagine—an organization that began in her home in 2014 and has since grown to over 700 members with a campus in East Mount Airy, Philadelphia.  She currently serves on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region, Dare to Imagine Church, Inc., and Dare to Imagine Community Development Corporation.

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    Patrick Young - Talent & Workforce Development Training Manager for the New Orleans Business Alliance 

    Session: TBD

    Patrick Young is the Training Manager for the New Orleans Business Alliance. In this role, Mr. Young is responsible for a wide range of logistical and operational tasks related to planning, training and technical assistance opportunities at NOLABA and the five Opportunity Centers in New Orleans. These Opportunity Centers Partners are, GOODWILL Industries of Southeastern Louisiana, JOB1, Urban League of Louisiana and Total Community Action. Mr. Young is responsible for organizing, coordinating and facilitating staff trainings on STRIVE’s CORE Adult Job Readiness and STRIVE Fresh START Life Skills curriculums.

    Through the collective efforts of the Opportunity Centers in less than 3 years, 890 individuals were connected to jobs -536 of them are African American men (60%) of the African American men who graduated from an opportunity center 79% are still working after six months. Nearly, 70% of STRIVE graduates have criminal backgrounds with misdemeanors and or felonies.

    Mr. Young has a wealth of experience serving in a variety of positions in the areas of community development, re-entry and criminal justice, work readiness, pre-employment training, program oversight, strategic planning, and management. He is the Founder and Executive Director of SHARP MEN a non-profit organization that provides professional attire for men looking to overcome workforce barriers to employment.

    Mr. Young was recently nationally selected out of 800 applicants to be one of 80 leaders as a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network fellow. Mr. Young is a certified community organizer from Midwest Organizing Academy. Certified Advanced Core Trainer from STRIVE International. Graduate of the New Orleans Business Alliance Economic Development Ambassadors Program as well as a Nancy M. Marsiglia Institute of Justice Fellow.

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