Advancing Racial Equity Series

Listening and learning from communities of color.

The Advancing Racial Equity series creates an opportunity for the community to listen to and learn from BIPOC leaders and experts and engage in the work alongside us.

As United Way continues on this racial equity journey, we acknowledge that there is still more work to be done. We won’t see a community where everybody thrives until we have a racially just community. Join us on this journey and at our next event.

Most Recent Event

Advancing Racial Equity ft. BIPOC Businesses

To honor Dr. King’s legacy of economic empowerment of communities of color, we invite you to join us to hear from a dynamic panel of entrepreneurs and business leaders of color. Learn about how these leaders are investing in people and strengthening their communities.


Doug Baldwin Jr.

Managing Director of Vault 89 Ventures, CEO of Ventrk, and Founder of the Family First Community Center Foundation. As the recipient of the Martin Luther King Medal of Distinguished Service Award, Doug is a philanthropic activist with a passion for creating empathic solutions to complex problems. The former Seattle Seahawk and Super Bowl Champion is, most importantly, a devoted husband and father. 

Laura Clise

Laura Clise is the founder and CEO of Intentionalist, a social purpose corporation that makes it easy to support Main Street small businesses and diverse communities through more intentional spending. Laura has been recognized for her leadership, including a Human Rights Campaign Award for Exceptional Individual Achievement, the Female Founders Alliance 2020 Unsung Hero Award, Seattle Magazine Most Influential 2020, GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards Business Person of the Year 2021, Puget Sound Business Journal – Outstanding Voices 2021, as a 2021 OL Reign Legend, and a 2022 recipient of the Bertha Pitts Campbell Equity Award.

Efrem Fesaha

Efrem Fesaha, is a first-generation Eritrean American whose family moved to the US (West Seattle) in 1988. In 2011, Efrem returned from Eritrea where he became inspired by the Café culture and returned to Seattle with the desire to venture into coffee. Boon Boona Coffee was launched with the aim of sourcing the highest quality coffee from Africa. In collaboration with coffee farmers across many African nations they look to develop long-lasting relationships and support the sustainability of their crops. Boon Boona Roastery & Café operations are located in Downtown Renton and Central District. Efrem won the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Washington Small Business Person of the Year award for 2022 and most recently was named 2022 Pacific Northwest Small Business Person of the Year.

Featured Speakers

Past Speaker – LaTosha Brown

Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter Fund and Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute

LaTosha Brown is an award-winning visionary thought leader, institution builder, Cultural Activist and Artist, and Connector. She is the Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter Fund and Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute. These initiatives are designed to boost Black voter registration and turnout, as well as increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities.

Past Speaker – Clint Smith

Author and staff writer at The Atlantic

Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of the narrative nonfiction book, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America, which was a #1 New York Times Bestseller, and the poetry collection Counting Descent, which won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award.

Visit Clint Smith’s website >>

Past Speaker – Nicole Lynn Lewis

Author, Founder and CEO of Generation Hope

Nicole Lynn Lewis is a former teen mom who put herself through college with her three-month old daughter in tow. She now works every day to change the statistic that less than 2% of teen mothers will earn their degrees before age 30.

Read more about Nicole >>

Past Speaker – Zamzam Mohamed

Co-founder, Voices of Tomorrow

A native of Somalia and Kenya, and a Seattle resident since age 13, Zamzam is an activist for social justice and racial equity for Immigrant and Refugee communities. Zamzam co-founded Voices of Tomorrow (VOT), an organization that works closely with community partners to eliminate racial inequities in the early learning system.

Visit Voices of Tomorrow’s website >>

Past Speaker – Andrea Caupain Sanderson

Chief Executive Officer, Byrd Barr Place

For 20 years, Andrea Caupain Sanderson has worked passionately to make a positive impact on issues of racial and social equity. As Byrd Barr Place’s chief executive officer since 2008, she has built a strong foundation for future growth by effectively leading the organization through critical change and innovation.

Visit Byrd Barr Place website >>

Past Speaker – Sean Goode

Executive Director, Choose 180

Sean Goode is the executive director of Choose 180, which works to decriminalize youthful behavior by creating alternatives to the criminal legal system. Sean has worked with youth in at-risk communities and worked in educational advocacy implementing programs to support young people’s readiness in education. Sean is also a member of the Black Community Building Collective.

Visit Choose 180 website >>

Past Speaker – Regina Elmi

Co-founder and Executive Director, Supporting Partnerships in Education and Beyond

Regina Elmi is the co-founder and executive director of Supporting Partnerships in Education and Beyond, a nonprofit that helps mobilize community voices to disrupt systems by developing and implementing innovative methods for strong partnerships between parents, educators, community partners and organizations. Regina is also a member of the Black Community Building Collective.

Past Speaker – Marshaun Barber

Executive Director, Reclaiming Our Greatness

Marshaun Barber is the executive director at Reclaiming Our Greatness which aims to provide culturally appropriate support to communities of color who are experiencing housing and food insecurity, and who may also need assistance navigating healthcare, education, and justice systems. Marshaun is also a member of the Black Community Building Collective.


Visit Reclaiming Our Greatness website >>

Past Events

Advancing Racial Equity with LaTosha Brown

LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter joined us for an inspirational presentation about advocacy, voting rights and how we can all take action towards a just and equitable nation.
Read more about this event.

A Conversation with Clint Smith

We welcomed New York Times best selling writer, educator, and poet, Clint Smith to our (virtual) community for a conversation about racial equity and his book How the Word is Passed.
Read more about this event.

The Black Community Building Collective Panel 

Black leaders know their communities best. Hear from three members of the Collective in this panel discussion: Sean Goode of Choose180, Regina Elmi of Supporting Parnerships in Education and Beyond and Marshaun Barber of Reclaiming our Greatness. Read more about this event.

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Thanks to the following companies for investing in racial equity in our community:

Advancing Racial Equity Sponsors: Amazon, Microsoft, Brighton Jones