November 21, 2018

Advancing Millennials of Color in Boston: Summary Highlights from the 2018 Forefront Summit

On September 20, 2018, we hosted the Forefront Summit, one of the flagship events of the Fierce Urgency Now Festival in partnership with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and City Awake. More than 80 professionals, students and local leaders from the Greater Boston area gathered to explore the urgent topic at hand: diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Tech entrepreneur Miracle Olantunji in a fireside chat with Bob Rivers, CEO of Eastern Bank


Highlights of the Forefront Summit include:

  • An intimate fireside chat on representation and inclusion with Miracle Olatunji, CEO of OpportuniMe and Bob Rivers, CEO of Eastern Bank, introduced by Jane Edmonds, Vice President for Programming and Community Outreach
  • Hands-on brainstorming sessions where attendees shared their creative ideas and insights on ways our Forefront Challenge Partners can improve their talent pipeline and create inclusive workplaces
  • A Solutions Showcase and dialogue around interventions and ideas companies can implement to help build up their talent pipeline with the entire group
  • Inspiring lightning talks from Justin Kang, Vice President of Economic Growth at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; Sofia Teixeira, U.S. Head of Diversity & Inclusion for John Hancock Financial Services; Dion Graham, VP at SAP; and Bartholomew Jae, Director, Education & Development of the National Fire Protection Association
  • Workplace research insights from Meghan McGrath, Director of Marketing at Bates Communications
  • Delicious Caribbean food from local Dominican restaurant Merengue
The Forefront Leadership Team with B Jae from the NFPA


Our Forefront Summit participants were tasked to design a future of work that works for all across leading industries in Boston, including Technology, Insurance, Consulting, and Creative Design. These brainstorm breakout groups were respectively led by representatives from SAP, John Hancock, Deloitte and the Design Museum of Boston. Their innovative insights and ideas showed that if an organization in these industries wants to be highly recommended by employees of color as a great place to work for diverse talent, there are 4 key elements to focus on:

Technology @ the Forefront with SAP
Led by Miguel Castro, Michelle Bryant, Dion Graham and Megan Harry from SAP
Marybeth Campbell and Kaitlyn Bean from The Boston Foundation

  • Recruit untapped talent in state schools and community colleges
  • Tap into existing employee networks and affinity groups to amplify the talent pipeline in tech
  • Encourage leads to refer diverse talent to the company by incentivizing bonuses and promotion opportunities
  • Work with K-12 students and invest in after-school coding boot camps or STEM programs
  • Implement longer-term mentorship and sponsorship programs


I attended the Forefront Summit to have a productive discussion about intentional inclusion of millennials of color.”-2018 Forefront Summit attendee


Insurance @ the Forefront with John Hancock
Led by Rita German, Sofia Teixeira, Annie Duong, Christine Lee and Shelby Sih

  • Top-notch professional and leadership development
  • Streamlined mentorship opportunities
  • Safe spaces for storytelling on culture, identity, and what makes us different as humans
  • Authentic networking experiences
  • Flexible career development and the opportunity to easily change roles and teams


“There was a lot about exploring the benefits of true D&I in Boston. The next step in my eyes is directly connecting the talent to the opportunities available and/or coming down the pipeline at these companies.” -2018 Forefront Summit attendee


Creative Design @ the Forefront with the Design Museum of Boston
Led by Amanda Hawkins, Graciela Ruiz, Trish Fontanilla, Sydney Janey, Nawaz Mathewala, Gareth Burrows, Zach Thomas, Cataliana Rojo Ianetta, Liz Pawlak, Marty Nee and Katie Shannon

  • Generate more awareness regarding careers in design and debunk the myth that there is only one “type” of designer
  • Offer paid internships, apprenticeships, and fellowships where millennials of color can showcase their talent
  • Provide recognition and awards to diverse talent in design
  • Create a public service campaign to raise awareness on the exciting creative arts careers one can take
  • Spotlight designers and creatives of color who are changing the game

“At the Forefront Summit, our team quickly determined a need for more public role models, mentors, and early and immersive introductions into design and design thinking for youth. They suggested a public campaign highlighting designers of diverse backgrounds and interactive programming…We’re excited to share more in our next meeting & I want to say thank you again to to Gareth and Nawaz for helping us facilitate this session, and Josuel, Yulkendy, and Cristina for all of your work at Forefront and for inviting us to participate!” - Amanda Hawkins, Exhibitions Manager


Consulting @ the Forefront with Deloitte
Led by Arman Ashrafi and Alanna Hughes

  • Encourage word of mouth to increase the pipeline of diverse candidates
  • Invest in more mentorship and sponsorship programs for high-potential future leaders
  • Continue to build transparency around the recruitment process
  • Invest in more anti-racist and bias training
“I wanted to engage in dialogue around ways we can make work more inclusive and equitable for people of color and folks with marginalized identities.” -2018 Forefront Summit Attendee

We’d like to thank City Awake for organizing and including us in the Fierce Urgency of Now: Energizing Millennials of Color to Unlock Boston’s Promise. We were one of 40 unique events hosted by like-minded organizations with the ultimate goal of creating a local community where we can all thrive. We’re grateful for our generous sponsors: John Hancock, SAP, NFPA, Babson College, and The Boston Foundation!

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