Here is what happened in business in 2020.

JPMorgan Chase Commits $30 Billion To Advance Racial Equity

JPMorgan Chase announced new long-term commitments to advance racial equity. The firm will harness its expertise in business, policy and philanthropy and commit an additional $30 billion over the next five years to provide economic opportunity to underserved communities, especially the Black and Latinx communities. The firm will also provide $2 billion in philanthropic capital over the next five years to drive an inclusive economic recovery and support Black, Latinx and other underserved communities. This extends and increases the firm’s current five-year $1.75 billion philanthropic commitment made in 2018. It will also include an emphasis on supporting Black- and Latinx-led organizations.

Bank of America Commits to One-Billion-Dollar Contributions to Local Communities over a 4-year-span

Bank of America is looking to contribute one billion dollars to local communities across the country over a span of 4-years. A large amount was confirmed to be funneled to Los Angeles; this commitment was made to address the economic spiral across the nation. They will invest into local communities that need it most. The dedication answered the calls for racial equality, the focus is to encourage more resources in healthcare, career paths, small business support, and addressing housing shortage. Key factors that will be covered through this program will include, virus testing, telemedicine, flu vaccination clinics, and funding of health within communities of color. There will be additional collaborations with high schools and historically Black colleges and universities, supporting research and future career pathways.


Calif. Endowment Pledges $225M to Support Calif. Black-Led Organizations

The Los Angeles-based California Endowment announced a 10-year, $225 million pledge of funding support for Black-led organizing, activism and advocacy in the state. The funding is a long-term commitment by the Endowment to build and strengthen Black-Led organizations and organizing throughout the state. While there will be an immediate infusion of one-time funding support, the health foundation has pledged a decade-long commitment of support to help sustain funding for organizations working to reimagine systems built on structural inequality and racism. The 10-year pledge of support builds upon existing efforts by the Endowment to fund community organizing and activism in African American-led organizations across California, with a projected $50 million dollar increase in support in the coming decade.

Magic Johnson Partners with Cigna President Mike Triplett to Address Racial and Gender Disparities Among Small Businesses

Magic Johnson Enterprises and Cigna launched community-driven series of customized health programs for businesses in Los Angeles. It’s put in place to meet the Health officer orders, designed to meet each sectors unique needs. These programs are created to build a better foundation for everyone involved, and then implant a stake of equality within each compound of the community.

 GLAAACC Celebrates 27 Years of Honoring Business Leaders

The GLAAACC Economic Awards Dinner honored top corporate leaders such as L.A. Metro CEO Phillip Washington and Los Angeles World Airports CEO Deborah Flint, the late Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson, as well as political leaders at the local, state and federal level. Awards were presented in categories such as African American Business of the Year, Banking and Financial Institution of the Year, Public Service, Purchasing Executive, Construction Company of the Year, Small Business Advocate, Public Works Contractor of the Year and Corporation of the Year. The event recognizes individuals, small businesses and corporations who have contributed to the economic growth and development of the African American small business community.


Comerica Bank Names Irvin Ashford, Jr. Chief Community Officer

Comerica Bank named Irvin Ashford, Jr., its new Chief Community Officer. Ashford, will be responsible for community reinvestment nationally and all associated activities, including development, lending, community investments, volunteerism and data analysis. Additionally, he will lead Comerica’s diversity business resource groups. Ashford previously served as Comerica’s National Director of Financial Education and External Affairs and will maintain these responsibilities in his new role. Ashford will report directly into the Office of the Chairman. Ashford joined Comerica Bank in 2000 and has continued to strengthen relationships with the communities served by Comerica through various financial literacy and community development initiatives. Last year, Ashford and his team established the Comerica Money $ense program to address the critical need of teaching sound financial principles to a wide range of audiences from pre-K to senior citizens, as well as small businesses.

 JP Morgan Chase’s Johnson is Banking on South L.A.’s Success

Back in the early 2000’s, Malcolm A. Johnson changed careers from an NFL player to corporate banker. While the job switch appeared dramatic, it actually fulfilled Johnson’s vision of giving back to his community in a tangible way. As executive director of Community Development Banking for JPMorgan Chase, Johnson leads the company’s initiatives to assist residents, businesses, schools and nonprofits in accessing the financial resources to improve their neighborhoods. His responsibilities include heading JPMorgan’s new platform that invests equity into affordable housing projects in South LA and other markets across the country.  He also works closely with Community Development Financial Institutions, which are private institutions focused on community-based lending. Johnson specializes in real estate finance and after joining JPMorgan in 2012 as the senior coverage banker, he underwrote and arranged $3 billion in secured and unsecured debt financing for publicly traded and privately-held real estate developers and investment firms in Los Angeles. But, it’s South L.A. where Johnson is really focused on making a difference and the bank is fully on board with that emphasis.



L.A. Metro CEO Phil Washington Will Lead Biden Transit Transition Team

The Biden-Harris transition team officials announced that Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Phillip Washington will head up their transit agency review team. The teams of volunteers are responsible for evaluating the operations of the federal agencies so that the incoming administration is prepared for its first day. The agency review teams will meet with former agency officials and experts who closely follow federal agencies, and with officials from think tanks, labor groups, trade associations and non-government organizations.


L.A. City Planning Department Names Faisal Roble First Chief Equity Officer

City Planning, the largest planning department in the United States, named its first Chief Equity Officer Faisal Roble to lead in a newly-created position to spearhead racial justice efforts within the Department. This role will also help address implicit bias in City Planning policies and outreach. With more than 30 years of experience and most recently holding the title of Principal City Planner, Roble will help craft City Planning’s Racial Equity Action Plan that will better guide diverse outreach and engagement that informs 35 distinct communities during the City Planning process. City Planning will submit its Racial Equity Action Plan to the mayor’s office as well as join the City of Los Angeles Racial Equity Task Force, both to promote citywide diversity and equity. Roble and his team will dedicate work effort to implement the priorities identified in the Action Plan. The work to dismantle systemic racism will require committed resources and involve both internal and external efforts. Roble’s team will continue its work well into the future and augment the important work in partnership with the mayor’s office.


­ Monique Earl named as New Executive Officer of LADOT

Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) Assistant General Manager Monique Earl was selected to serve as LADOT’s new executive officer. The new role of executive officer will serve as the general manager’s proxy including as her new designee for all discipline matters and travel authorization. Earl will also oversee the Bureau of Employee Engagement & Performance which manages performance tracking and agency-wide professional development among other responsibilities. As AGM of Administration and Field Services, Ms. Earl is responsible for more than 200 employees and nearly one billion dollars in funding spearheading the overall financial strategy at LADOT, which includes budget, accounting, risk management, procurement, and facilities. In addition, she manages infrastructure maintenance and project implementation including crews responsible for roadway striping, street signs, and traffic signals.


Veteran TV Executive Channing Dungey Named Chairman of Warner Bros. Television Group

Veteran TV industry executive Channing Dungey was named chairman of the Warner Bros. Television Group after tenures at ABC and Netflix in which she shepherded hit series including “Scandal.” Dungey, who at ABC in 2016 became the first African American head of a network entertainment division, will succeed veteran Warner executive Peter Roth when he steps down from the post early next year, the company announced Monday. After an ABC career that spanned 14 years, including as a series development executive, Dungey was hired by Netflix in late 2018 as its vice president for original series. She resigned earlier this month, sparking reports that she was destined for Warner Bros.


MSNBC Executive Producer Rashida Jones Propels Forward as the First Black Woman Network President

Jones will be succeeding Phil Griffin to be the President of MSNBC. She is the first Black woman to have the position at the network. A Hampton alum, Jones has 20 years of local and national news coverage. She is also known for her leadership in breaking news coverage at NBC and MSNBC.


Ayo Davis Named EVP of ABC and Disney+ Talent and Casting

Television Executive Ayo Davis, the head of casting at ABC Television is now expanding her role and has been appointed to the newly created role of Executive Vice President of Creative Development and Strategy for Disney Branded Television which includes Disney+, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior Networks. In her previous role at ABC Television, Davis been responsible for the casting of some of ABC’s biggest hits including “Black-ish,” “How To Get Away With Murder” and “The Good Doctor.” Davis is an alumnus of Dillard University with a BA in Communications and now serves as a board member of the university.


Amber Rasberry Secures the Title of Senior Film Executive for Amazon Studios

As senior film executive, Rasberry will work on the development of original movies and day-to-day production. She was the vice president of Paramount Player and director of development at Tyler Perry’s 34th St. Films. She also worked with Lee Daniels on the film “the U.S. vs Billie Holiday.”


Jacqueline Stewart Appointed Chief Artistic and Programming Officer of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures announced that scholar, programmer, and educator Jacqueline Stewart has been named Chief Artistic and Programming Officer. In this new executive position, Stewart will lead strategy and planning for the Academy Museum’s curatorial, educational, and public programming initiatives, including exhibitions, screenings, symposia, publications, workshops, and K-12 programs. Stewart will join the museum in January 2021 and will report to the Director and President of the Academy Museum, Bill Kramer. Stewart joins the Academy Museum from the University of Chicago Department of Cinema and Media Studies, where she teaches American film history, specializing in African American cinema from the silent era to the present. Stewart also is the Director of the university’s Arts + Public Life initiative, which provides platforms for artists and access to arts programming through artist residencies, arts education, creative entrepreneurship, and artist-led programs and exhibitions. Stewart is the host of “Silent Sunday Nights” on Turner Classic Movies, which showcases silent films from all over the world, and she co-curated Pioneers of African American Cinema for Kino Lorber—a collection of works of early African American filmmakers.


Valeisha Butterfield Jones Named as The Recording Academy’s First Diversity & Inclusion Officer

Valeisha Butterfield Jones, a leader, a global influencer, and culture shifter who co-founded the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WENN) and served as the National Youth Vote Director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, was named The Recording Academy’s first Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. The Los Angeles-based Recording Academy consists of musicians, producers, recording engineers, and other musical professionals, and it’s most famous for the Grammy Awards, which recognize achievements in the music industry. She’s also served in the Obama Administration as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the International Trade Administration, and Butterfield Jones also held the post of Executive Vice President of Rush Communications and as the National Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Alzheimer’s Association. She maintains a seat on the National Board of Directors of ColorComm, MC Lyte’s Hip Hop Sisters Network, and iVote.


Jennifer Giddens Joins OWN as Head of Marketing

Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) announced that Jennifer Giddens has joined the network as Head of Marketing reporting to OWN president Tina Perry. In her new role at OWN, Giddens will oversee strategic marketing for the network’s diverse slate of African American female focused programming, including its robust slate of acclaimed scripted and unscripted series, as well as special programming and TV movies, which were recently introduced to the lineup. She will also handle marketing for the network’s growing podcast business and work closely with OWN’s ad sales team to identify and create impactful marketing solutions for partner brands and advertisers. In 2017, Giddens was named as one of the industry’s most notable marketing executives in Variety’s Marketing Impact Report. Over her illustrious career, her work has been recognized with Clio Awards, Emmy nominations, Peabody and Promax honors. She has also been awarded Kidscreen’s Brand/Channel Design of the Year and was a Marketer of the Year finalist.


Robyn Lattaker- Johnson Joins OWN as Head of Unscripted Development, Programming & Specials

This year, Oprah Winfrey Network announced Robyn Lattaker-Johnson as head of OWN unscripted development, programming & specials. She reports to OWN president, Tina Perry, in this role and will focus on developing a variety of unscripted programs for the network’s core African-American female audience. Lattaker-Johnson takes the reins of OWN’s unscripted programming and development from Jon Sinclair, who departed the company at the end of 2019 to pursue other opportunities. OWN’s popular array of unscripted programming includes “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” “Ready to Love,” “Love & Marriage: Huntsville,” “Family or Fiancé,” “Black Love,” “Black Women OWN the Conversation” and “Love Goals.”


Rory Gamble Named First African American President of the UAW

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) is one of the largest and most diverse unions in North America, with members in virtually every sector of the economy. Representing nearly one million current and retired members of all ethnicities and backgrounds in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the UAW has never had an African American president, until now. Since 1987, Gamble’s assignments have included local union health and safety coordinator, employee support services program, education director, civil rights coordinator, fitness center coordinator, and family services and learning center coordinator. He has served as director of Local 600 Ford units, including Dearborn Engine and Fuel Tank, Dearborn Truck Plant, Milan, Industrial Athlete, and Dearborn Frame. Other assignments have included retirees’ liaison and coordinator of the Rouge Rehabilitation Center. In 1998 and 2003, Gamble served on the UAW-Ford National Negotiating Team. From 1993 to 2002, he was elected for three terms as the local’s recording secretary. Gamble was elected first vice president of Local 600 in 2002 and re-elected in 2005. In 1999, Gamble received the Spirit of Detroit award; the 2006 Horace L. Sheffield Jr. Humanitarian Award; and the 2008 Minority Women’s Network (Detroit chapter) Man of the Year award.


Dr. Harry J. Elam Jr., of Stanford Named Occidental College’s 16th President

Harry J. Elam, Jr., vice provost for undergraduate education at Stanford University, was selected as the 16th president of Occidental College. Elam was responsible for nearly all policies and programs relating to the university’s 7,200 undergraduate students. The Occidental board unanimously selected Elam at the conclusion of a national search, advised by a search committee drawn from all segments of the college community. Elam will begin his tenure at Occidental on July 1 and will succeed Jonathan Veitch, who announced in January 2019 that he will step down on June 30 after an 11-year presidency. A member of the Stanford faculty since 1990, when he joined what is now the Department of Theater and Performance Studies, Elam is an award-winning teacher and internationally renowned scholar who has served in a variety of senior administrative positions. As vice provost, he helped lead a major rethinking of Stanford’s undergraduate curriculum as well as a separate effort to create a new vision for the university’s student residences.


Michael Drake will become the first Black head of the UC System in 152-year history

Dr. Michael Drake wants to improve the quality of people’s lives as head of the UC System. He is an experienced physician who specializes in Ophthalmology. In 2005, he became Chancellor at UC Irvine, becoming the first African American to permanently lead the institution.


 Dr. William Harvey of Hampton University Announces Retirement

Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey announced his retirement after 43 years, effective June 30, 2022. After four decades at Hampton University, Harvey is one of the longest-serving leaders in American higher-education. During his tenure as President, Harvey led the initiation of 92 new academic degrees – 12 new doctoral programs – the building of 29 buildings and the launch of four satellites. He also increased SAT scores by more than 300 points.  The endowment of Hampton moved from $29 million to $300 million. Harvey transformed Hampton University and the university enjoys high enrollment and between 15,000 and 20,000 applications annually and a steady enrollment. There have been over 36,000 students who have graduated from Hampton since Harvey took over. The university is classified as a ‘High Research Activity’ institution.


McDonald’s hires diversity chief amid corporate turmoil

McDonald’s is hiring a new chief diversity officer as it struggles with charges of harassment and racism at all levels of the company. Reginald Miller became the company’s global chief diversity equity and inclusion officer on Nov. 9. Miller was previously the chief diversity officer at VF Corp., the owner of brands such as The North Face, Timberland and Vans.


Legendary Artistic Director Sheldon Epps takes post at Historic Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C.

For more than 20 years renowned director Sheldon Epps served as the artistic director for the Pasadena Playhouse.  Epps retired from the playhouse in 2017. During his tenure Epps transformed the Pasadena Playhouse Theater into one of the region’s most prominent performing arts centers in the country. Now Epps, has accepted the role of senior artistic advisor for Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Yes, the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination will be lead by an African American. The theater which reopened its doors in 1968 and is operated in partnership with the National Park Service. Epps will help to shape the company’s 2020-21 performance schedule once the theater re-opens post COVID-19.


NBA legend Isiah Thomas expands Cheurlin Champagne Online Reach  The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop Thomas from growing his Champagne company and it became one of the fastest growing champagne companies in the United States. Social media helped expand their reach. Cheurlin Champagne partnered with 450 NBA players. For the past two years, Thomas has become Champagne Producer of the Year.


Al Harrington and Viola launch Viola Cares

The rise of Covid-19 has contributed to the cannabis industry growth. Lower income communities strive to find alternative solutions to the disproportionate health care system, marijuana has been a source of support. Former NBA player Al Harrington has been a strong advocate in the community to bring awareness around social equity.

Through Harrington’s cannabis company Viola, he has provided initiatives to marginalized communities. On April 20, 2020 Viola launched a collaboration with AKOO clothing, owned by rapper and entrepreneur Tip Harris. Proceeds of the launch were donated to the Root and Rebound’s COVID-19 relief effort, an initiative to give back to families affected by incarceration and injustice.

VIOLA’s goal is to serve everyone and educate the community on the benefits of cannabis. VIOLA’s three pillars are diversity, inclusion and ownership. One of the company’s main focus is to encourage people to get involved and hire Black women into executive roles.