New ‘Executive Leadership Academy’ cohort announced

DARA WARE ALLEN AND DIAMONTE WALKER are two of the 28 newest members of The Advanced Leadership Initiative’s “Executive Leadership Academy,” an eight-month program in Pittsburgh that prepares Black professionals with the skills and training necessary to advance to executive-level positions.

by Rob Taylor Jr.
Courier Staff Writer

Dara Ware Allen is the CEO and principal of City Charter High School. Tammy Spencer Bey is the vice president, business tech liaison, for Bank of New York Mellon. Cynthia L. James is the president and CEO of YouthPlaces, Inc. Thomas Powell is a financial solutions advisor for Merrill Lynch. Diamonte Walker is the heralded deputy executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.

They’ll be getting to know each other pretty well over the next eight months, as they will join 23 other African Americans in the Pittsburgh area, creating the third cohort of The Advanced Leadership Initiative’s Executive Leadership Academy.

CYNTHIA JAMES is a member of the newest cohort for TALI’s “Executive Leadership Academy.” (Photo courtesy Bridgeway Capital)

As the New Pittsburgh Courier has reported in previous editions, the Executive Leadership Academy is a collaborative effort between TALI and Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business to build a pipeline of African American leaders who are prepared to contribute to their organizations and communities at the highest level. The C-Suite level, as it’s called.

Two cohorts have already graduated from the program, totaling 51 participants. The third cohort’s members was released Jan. 22. The cohort members will obtain leadership development training as well as a curriculum that addresses specific challenges that are faced by African Americans in the workplace. The cohort members also will be paired with a professional coach and an executive mentor to leverage relationships and maximize their experience.

“TALI’s commitment to preparing Pittsburgh’s African Americans for the challenges faced in executive leadership is increasingly more relevant,” said Evan Frazier, founding director of TALI and senior vice president of community affairs at Highmark Health, in a statement provided to the Courier. “I am inspired by the enthusiasm and passion of each member of this cohort. It is my pleasure to welcome this group that will join a growing network to impact our city in significant ways.”

“As an institution of higher learning and a prominent pillar in the Pittsburgh region, we are committed to promoting inclusion and equity,” said Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, Dean of the CMU Tepper School of Business, in a statement. “We are proud partners of TALI and share in its mission to elevate Black leaders to positions of power and influence in our community.”

Walker called it a “tremendous honor” to be part of TALI’s Executive Leadership Academy. “It is my true belief that a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in our region is not possible without taking meaningful steps towards diversifying executive-level leadership across the public, private, and non-profit sectors.”

Walker also said that “what I find most remarkable is that TALI has upended the decade-long focus on trying to determine if diverse leaders are ‘ready’ for the C-Suite, and instead presents a new model which seeks to ensure the C-Suite is ready for us.”

JAMES E. DOYLE is a member of the newest cohort for TALI’s “Executive Leadership Academy.”

The other members of the third cohort include: Scott A. Bartlett, director, supply chain U.S./Canada, PPG Industries; Olivia Benson, COO, The Forbes Funds; Kimberly Brevard, senior director, claim operations, UPMC Health Plan; Michael Crawford, managing director, finance and administration, FedEX Ground; James E. Doyle, Ed.D., COO, Environmental Charter School; Onyeka Egbuna, audit director, FHLB Pittsburgh; Darnell Grinage, director, environmental services, UPMC; Stephanie Morgan, senior human resources business partner, director, BNY Mellon; Shelly Hogans, vice president of external reporting and SOX compliance, Limbach Holdings, Inc.; Rebekah Hughey, M.D., medical director, Gateway Health; Shabaki Lambert, assistant vice president, HR strategic initiatives, Carnegie Mellon University; Jameeta Lewis-Davis, director, team member communications and engagement, Giant Eagle; Jessica Mitchell, senior vice president, CFO of Retail Banking, PNC; Kimberly Moses, senior associate legal counsel, University of Pittsburgh; Jennifer Pannill, recruitment and employer branding lead, Covestro; Jennifer Rice, director, dental and vision operations, UPMC Health Plan; Albert Robertson, business systems manager, Koppers, Inc.; Rebecca Ross Haywood, managing chief counsel, government and regulatory enforcement group, PNC; Alicia Scott, executive director, care management, Allegheny Health Network; Morton D. Stanfield Jr., senior vice president, community development, Dollar Bank; Jamila Sykes, director, provider experience, Highmark Health; Christina Wilds, DrPH, manager, community health and programs, Highmark Health; Marisa Williams, CEO, Hearth.

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