Marsha E. Murray, Esq., was appointed by Mayor Sylvester Turner and confirmed by City Council to serve as the Director of the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity (OBO) in April 2020, after having served as OBO’s Interim Director. As Director, Ms. Murray is responsible for leading the City’s supplier diversity, workforce development, and inclusion efforts, with a focus on administering programs and initiatives that increase access to economic opportunity for historically underutilized businesses and disenfranchised individuals.
Prior to being appointed as Interim Director, Ms. Murray served as the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Houston’s Legal Department, as well as the Deputy Director for OBO. As Chief Administrative Officer for the Legal Department, she was responsible for strategically managing its operational and administrative needs to enhance its delivery of quality legal services. During her seven years as Deputy Director for OBO, she led its operations, core programs and policy development. Ms. Murray was integral to the organization’s growth and evolution having implemented comprehensive operational changes and policy updates in the department. Recognizing a need in Houston’s small business community, she spearheaded the expansion of OBO’s services to include facilitating the provision of free legal assistance and guidance on doing business globally. For her work in OBO on behalf of Houston’s business community, in February 2019, she received OBO’s Advisory Board Chairman’s Advocate of the Year Award.
Ms. Murray’s commitment to public service spans almost two decades. Prior to joining the City of Houston, she served as legal counsel to New York City’s government for 10 years. During that time, she worked to ensure that the most vulnerable New Yorkers had access to social services and led programs that served to maximize housing options for citizens in a perpetually challenging housing market.
Ms. Murray has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and Spanish from Colgate University and a Law Degree from Villanova University School of Law. Her advocacy for local businesses to expand their services and products to global markets led her to earn a designation as a Certified Global Business Professional in order to provide assistance to Houston businesses. She is a graduate of the Center for Houston’s Future Business/Civic Leadership Forum and she serves on the board of Zonta Club of Houston, a global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. Ms. Murray has served on national and international panels advocating for the continued support and development of small businesses.
Jotaka L. Eaddy is the founder and CEO of Full Circle Strategies, LLC – a social impact consulting firm committed to advancing transformative change and global impact. Jotaka is also the Co-Host of the award winning OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network Television series – Speak Sis!.
As the founder and CEO of Full Circle Strategies, Jotaka delivers more than 20 years of experience in policy, organizing, and movement building to our clients. A seasoned strategist, she has been described as the “Olivia Pope of Silicon Valley” by Forbes Magazine.
Jotaka is also the founder and Convenor of #winwithblackwomen – an intersectional and international network of Black women leaders. The hashtag has garnered more than 600 million impressions and the network has been credited with making a significant impact in the nomination and election of Vice President Kamala Harris as the first Black woman Vice President of the United States.
Jotaka served as the Senior Advisor to the President and CEO and Senior Director for Voting Rights for the NAACP from 2009-2014. During which time she directed external affairs and strategic initiatives on behalf of the Office of the President and CEO. She also led the NAACP’s strategy to defend and expand voting rights.
From 2014-2019 Jotaka served as an executive in Silicon Valley – serving on the executive management team at high-growth tech companies and continues to advise high-growth tech companies
Jotaka’s experience in igniting regulatory, legislative, and social impact initiatives at the federal and state level for leading nonprofits, Presidential campaigns, and within the C-Suite of leading technology companies, has served to bridge the gap between Washington D.C., Underestimated communities, Silicon Valley and beyond.
She has seeded partnerships that have resulted in education, policy, and social impact initiatives that have reached more than 3 million consumers within the tech industry and beyond.
In 2004, Jotaka directed the national lobby and international advocacy campaign against the juvenile death penalty in the United States. Those efforts contributed to the 2005 landmark US Supreme Court decision Roper v. Simmons which abolished the juvenile death penalty in the United States.
Jotaka is a graduate of the University of SC, where she was elected Student Body President, becoming the first black woman to be elected to the position in the University of South Carolina’s 213-year history and the first black woman elected to such a position in the state of South Carolina.
She is an active member of several boards and civic organizations including being a proud member of the Federal City Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
A thought leader and status quo disruptor, Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim transformed her life through education and uplifted her community by developing community-based programs for nearly two decades. Now she’s using what she learned to advance racial equity strategies and expand access to opportunities, so all communities thrive.
As the Chief Equity Officer for the City of Atlanta, she and her team ensure equitable, open, and inclusive practices across all City departments, and operationalize the One Atlanta vision by acting as stewards, innovators, and partners who generate creative, forward-thinking policies and programs that disrupt and evolve how the City governs. Under her leadership, the Office supports populations and issues at the forefront of equity today and tomorrow and works to solve big issues like housing affordability, healthcare, transportation, education, sustainability, and criminal justice reform.
Qaadirah believes building bridges across different groups creates a framework for understanding our shared humanity. She is passionate about mentoring resilient youth and strives to model an example of what their futures can hold. She is a first-generation college graduate, earning an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco, and an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. Qaadirah is also a former U.S. Air Force Reservist, athlete, and award-winning activist who has been named one of America’s Leaders of Change by the National Urban Fellows Program. She is multi-faceted and loves telling compelling stories of change with data and practicing gratitude for all she has experienced that has led her to embrace her own agency, and to understand the power we all have to chart the path to a better tomorrow through unity.
Tiffany Hamel Johnson is the President and CEO of Chicago United (CU).
Johnson is responsible for CU’s for leading CU’s mission, vision, and overarching strategy to empower diversity, equity, and inclusion within Chicago’s business community. She joined CU in April of 2020, and is the first African-American woman to head Chicago United. Johnson joined the CU from World Business Chicago, where she was the organization’s second-in-command as Executive Vice President of Strategy and Administration. She brings a unique blend of over 25 years of experience in the private, public and non-profit sectors.
Johnson began her career in advertising and marketing, and shifted to industrial and economic development. Johnson served as Chief Executive Officer of Windy City Harvest, and directed sales and marketing of a $200 million, mixed-income residential development on Chicago’s South Side for Granite Development Company. She was the project manager for the efforts to bring The Boeing Company’s corporate headquarters to Chicago during her first stint at World Business Chicago. In the late 1990s, she worked for Mesirow Stein Real Estate and Illinois Industrial Properties.
“I’ve been one of the only, and then I’ve been one of the many,” she says of her experience at diverse and not-so-diverse organizations. “That view will help. I’m used to working with many voices.”
Currently, she serves on the Board of IFF, where she chairs the Governance Committee. She also is on the Board of Trustees for Francis W. Parker and a board member of YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.
Johnson is a proud native Chicagoan and Chicago Public Schools graduate. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, where she majored in Spanish and minored in Communications. She resides in the Lakeview neighborhood with her husband and son.
In August 2019 Bobbie Knight was elected as the fifteenth president, and first woman to serve at the helm of Miles College. Knight, who is a Birmingham native, retired in 2016 after a successful career of more than 37 years with Alabama Power Company. Throughout her career Knight held various executive and leadership positions, including Vice President of the Birmingham Division (Alabama Power’s largest division), Vice President of Public Relations, and General Manager of Supply Chain.
Although retired from her professional career, Knight serves as Chair of the Board of Managers for the Birmingham Times Media Group. In 2018 Knight was appointed to the Birmingham Airport Authority (BAA) and was immediately elected as Chair by her colleagues. She continues to serve as Vice Chair of the BAA.
Throughout her career, Knight has received many awards and accolades. In 2005 she was named Outstanding Alumni in Public Relations by the University Of Alabama School Of Communications. In 2008, Knight was a recipient of the Women’s History Award from the Birmingham Chapter of the NAACP. In 2013, she was recognized as one of the “Women Who Make a Difference” in the Birmingham News and AL.com. In 2019, Knight was presented with a Brotherhood and Sisterhood Award by the NCCJ. In 2021, she received the Mann Medal, one of Samford University’s highest levels of distinction.
Knight has a B.S. degree from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and a Juris Doctorate from the Birmingham School of Law. She is also a graduate of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management Executive Leadership Program.
Knight is a woman of immense influence and is passionate about giving back to her community and mentoring young men and women to become leaders in their communities. She is married to Gary Burley, retired NFL player, local philanthropist, and founder of ProStart Academy.
Kesha is passionate about helping the next generation of founders navigate the challenges that inevitably arise when building a business—even when the idea is great, the model is strong, or funding is abundant. She was recently named one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” and is the subject of a Stanford Graduate School of Business case study on forming a successful impact venture capital firm. She has nearly a decade of experience in impact investing; at Jalia Ventures, a $5 million fund that she co-founded with Josh Mailman, she made seed investments in mission-driven companies including Red Rabbit, Schoolzilla, and ConnXus. She was also an investment associate at Bridges Ventures in the UK. Prior to this, Kesha worked as an operational consultant to small businesses in inner-city Los Angeles and as a mergers and acquisitions analyst at Merrill Lynch. She currently serves on the board of directors of CareAcademy, and is an elected member of the SEC Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee. She received her M.B.A. from Columbia University and her B.A. in Applied Mathematics from UC Berkeley.
Jessica Bain is an entertainment manager, event producer, entrepreneur and life coach. She is the CEO and founder of consulting firm Collective Society LLC. Jessica’s resume is impressive to say the very least, with Collective Society having managed contracts for several recent major performance tours. She is the general manager for Minq Lounge, one of the only Black-owned entertainment venues in Rochester, New York. Jessica also retains a long-standing position as operations manager and buyer for Xquisite Boutique, one of Rochester’s premier women’s fashion enterprises and a cornerstone of its community for the past sixteen years.
In 2019 Jessica Bain was featured in the Black Women Roc campaign and has been a creative contributor to Rochester Women Online. Having also been a brand ambassador for international women’s apparel company Ashley Stewart, Jessica is currently in talks to launch her own long-awaited clothing line, Collectively Curvy, in 2022. A graduate of the State University of New York at Fredonia with a major in music entertainment and a specialization in public relations and communications, Jessica has produced and starred in various television and radio commercials. Jessica also founded and hosted “The Plug” on 100.9 WXIR, a podcast/discussion forum focused primarily on the voices of curvy American women of color.
Woven through Jessica’s years of growth and experience both professionally and personally is a strong calling for guiding women with similar dreams and goals- encouraging them on their own paths to entrepreneurship by providing mentorship and extending the resources at her disposal. Through Collective Society and many other projects she’s helmed over the years, Jessica takes a deep pride in having provided both charity and employment opportunities to the most commonly overlooked sectors of her community, contributing firsthand to its revitalization.
Episodes of “The Plug” are available for listening on all podcast streaming platforms.