An Equity Discussion on Being, Belonging & Becoming

Date: Wednesday, August 19, 2020 from 12:00 – 1:00pm PT 
  • James Thomas, Inclusion and Diversity, Employee Relations, Community Advocate
  • Kathleen Martinez, Sr. Director, National Strategic Relationships – BP America & Executive Director, BP Global Foundation
  • Melanie R. Brown, Sr. Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Tramaine L. Crawford, National Reading Teacher & Leadership Coach
Moderator: Daniel Horgan


Register now!

To be seen, heard and valued is a common human desire. In this session, we’ll explore how we can strengthen and accept our sense of identity – our being.  We will discuss how we can create more inclusive spaces so that we can ultimately become the best version of ourselves leveraging both our self-awareness and connection with others. Through storytelling, reflection, interactive exercises and resource sharing, we will equip participants with the mindset, knowledge, skills and tools to explore diversity, strengthen equity and cultivate inclusion.

About James

James is a seasoned professional with more than 22 years of leadership experience, and over more than 12 years leading diversity and inclusion programs. His background spans fashion, food and now wine. James recently joined Ste Michelle Estates as their first Director of Inclusion, Equity & Diversity. In his role he is responsible for driving inclusive business practices for Ste Michelle Estates’ portfolio of wineries across Washington, Oregon and California, enhancing the organization’s ability to hire, develop and retain diverse top talent, as well as drive profitable sales and connections with communities around the world.

James transitioned to Ste Michelle Estates from Starbucks where he served first as a District Manager, leading a portfolio of stores in the downtown Seattle market, and then as a Senior Manager of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility programs. In this role he supported the company’s U.S. retail business which included more than 18,000 stores and 187,000 employees. James’ primary role was to operationalize and implement the company’s inclusion and diversity strategies throughout the retail business to create a more inclusive environment for both customers and employees.

Prior to Starbucks, James spent 20 years at Nordstrom in multiple roles that included being a Store Manager for both the Rack and Full Line division and ten years in the diversity and inclusion division, five leading the company program.

James is a Cornell University certified diversity professional and has his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a graduate degree in Legal Studies from Arizona State University.

He has served on a number of nonprofit boards that include Seattle Goodwill and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, and currently serves as a board member for City Year King County and the Choices Education Group.

In his spare time, he enjoys playing tennis, hiking and riding his motorcycle.

About Kathleen

Kathleen M. Martinez is Sr. Director of National Strategic Relationships & Initiatives in the Office of Diversity & Inclusion for BP America, and Executive Director of the BP Foundation Inc. The youngest of 14 children, Martinez is a first-generation high school and college graduate. She resides in Houston with her husband Jon and their son Kameron.

Kathleen’s background includes more than 20 years of experience in public relations, corporate social responsibility, education advocacy, and marketing with a record of demonstrated success in leadership, strategy development, community engagement, relationship building and program execution.

Kathleen received her B.A. in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Texas, San Antonio, and a Corporate Citizenship Certification from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. In 2018, Martinez was named Corporate Executive of Year by Solo Mujeres Magazine, named to the Top 100 Corporate Women Leaders in STEM by STEM Connector and in 2017 received the Million Women Mentors Corporate Commitment Award. The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce named Martinez Corporate Advocate of the year in 2014.

About Melanie

Melanie R. Brown is a global speaker and writer on racial justice, philanthropy and Black women’s intersectional leadership across the charitable sector. She began her career as an educator, teaching in Washington, D.C., Beijing, China and Hong Kong, before transitioning into philanthropy. With nearly 13 years in the field, Melanie’s grantmaking has focused on accelerating academic achievement for Black and Latinx students, dismantling systems of exclusionary discipline, advancing parent and youth organizing, disarming deficit narratives about Black men in the media and advocating for the rights of students of color with disabilities. She is currently a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where she focuses on constituent engagement across the foundation’s education, economic and health priorities in the United States and Canada.

Melanie is an adjunct professor at American University, a 2020 BMe Vanguard Fellow and an Atlantic Fellow in Social and Economic Equity at the London School of Economics. She has blogged for Alliance Magazine, the world’s leading publication for philanthropy and social investment, addressed audiences in Havana, Cuba, Oxford, UK and Cape Town, South Africa and co-authored a scholarly article on youth activism published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. She serves on boards for the American University Alumni Association and the Women’s Funding Network, an international network of women’s funds.

Melanie earned degrees from American University, Harvard and Carnegie Mellon. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and resides in Washington, D.C. You can learn more at

About Tramaine

Tramaine L. Crawford is a Teacher, Mentor, and Entrepreneur. Over the past two decades, Tramaine has served his country and community in some capacity. His current work focuses on educating and developing the next generation of leaders. He is committed to helping young people understand the true nature of leadership and equipping them with the tools to make a greater impact in the world.

Tramaine is the founder of TLC Virtual Literacy and Leadership Academy, a virtual learning platform that provides year-long academic and leadership development programs for boys and young men of color. The academic programs use culturally relevant books to help boys and young men with critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytic reading that piques their interests and at the same time prepares them for college reading and thinking.

After growing up in Gary, IN, Tramaine served in the U.S. Army for ten years. He also served as a federal civilian employee for seven years during Barack Obama’s administration. He currently lives in Prince George’s County, Maryland with his wife and daughters, and serves as a 3rd and 4th grade reading teacher. You can find Tramaine’s daily inspirational messages and book recommendations on Instagram and Twitter @MrCrawfordEDU.