Celebrating Juneteenth with our First Core Conversation & Curated Calendar of Events

Many thanks to all who joined the kick-off to our new series, “Core Conversations,” this week! Aimed at raising awareness, understanding, and action for the issues that profoundly impact our community, each Core Conversation will examine a Global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) within our local context, provide space to reflect, challenge our assumptions, and explore potential solutions to society’s wicked problems.

We intentionally kicked off our new “Core Conversations” series this week in honor of Juneteenth — “America’s Second Independence Day” — to shed light on racial discrimination and share ideas on how we can work to reduce inequalities (SDG 10) and promote decent work and economic growth (SDG 8) for all. Most importantly, we hope it moves you to reflect on your own role in your community, learn why black lives matter, and explore what you can do to be the change for racial equity and social justice.

Today’s conversations — inspired by John Lewis’s quote, “If Not Us, Then Who? If Not Now, Then When?” explored how race and racism impact systemic and generational health, social, and economic outcomes; and shared how members from Impact Hub Baltimore, Impact Hub Boston, and Impact Hub New York Metropolitan Area are working to improve those outcomes. Our speakers included Phillip Yates (Attorney, Equiliberty Founder/CEO, The Diversity Fund Co-Founder, Impact Hub Houston Board Chair); Kelvin D. Lyons Jr. (“What’s Good, Bro?” podcast Co-Host); Kerry Bowie (Msaada Partners Managing Partner); Karen Brown Stovell (Forward Ever Executive Director); and Michelle Avalos (Impact Hub Houston Director of Operations).

We were able to record the conversation with Phillip so you can learn about his experiences as a “First Generation Black American” and how that inspires and impacts who he is and what he does: https://youtu.be/AjFiVQrWJIU

In honor of Juneteenth this Friday, you’re invited to continue learning from black perspectives through a variety of virtual talks, performances, workshops and celebrations led by black organizations across the country. We’ve curated a few highlights on our calendar — https://bit.ly/juneteenth2020events — notably:

We are putting our Core Values to the test to reflect, re-examine, and re-imagine who we are and who we want to be as a community, so we can see where we fall short and strategize how we should move forward. We hope you’ll continue to join us on this journey!

If you have topics you’d like us to explore, please let us know on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, or Twitter. And if you’d like to connect with other Impact Hubs around the country, you can find links to them through our map at https://houston.impacthub.net/globalnetwork/.

Be safe and well!
In community and solidarity,
Grace and Michelle
Impact Hub Houston

P.S. Here’s a round-up of links and resources from the event, for your reference:

Initiatives, organizations and resources to learn from, support, and take action on:

Impact Hub Baltimore: https://baltimore.impacthub.net/stories-2/

Impact Hub Boston: https://impacthubboston.net/Boston/boston-region/black-lives-matter/

Impact Hub Houston: https://houston.impacthub.net/on-inclusion-and-equity-let-our-actions-speak-loudly/

Impact Hub New York Metropolitan Area: https://newyork.impacthub.net/

What’s Good, Bro? (WGB?):


Many thanks to our peers around the world — including  Impact Hub Zurich, Impact Hub Manila, and all of our Impact Hub fam around the world — for standing beside us in denouncing racism, xenophobia, prejudice and bigotry in all forms!

Core Conversations: “If Not Us, Then Who?” Working towards Equity & Justice

June 17, 2020 @ 14:00 16:00 CDT

Join a virtual discussion with Phillip Yates, Founder/CEO of Equiliberty and Co-Founder of The Diversity Fund, on the impact of race on our current virus + violence crises; followed by best practices from the Impact Hub community’s work on AIDE – Access, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity – to support and empower change-makers of color in the United States, featuring Kelvin Lyons, one of four leaders of the “What’s Good, Bro?” (WGB) podcast, Kerry Bowie, Managing Partner at Msaada Partners , and Karen Brown-Stovell, Executive Director at Forward Ever Sustainable Business Alliance.

CORE Conversation Topics include:

1. How COVID-19 threatens African-American communities and community-based businesses; and how social ventures like Equiliberty and CLLCTIVLY can help expand access for underinvested communities to asset-building opportunities through shared ownership.

2. How persistent police violence has inspired a generation of new civil rights leaders that has America re-thinking power structures, long-standing institutions, and governance.

3. How this new movement to end racism and violence against Black Americans and people of color has influenced so many people across the country and around the world to action, that 2020 may turn out to be a pivotal moment in human history.

4. How we can collaboratively envision what our world can look and work like under new systems that offer economic growth and justice for all, and co-create what might be.

Featured Initiatives from the Impact Hub Community:


Impact Hub Baltimore:


Impact Hub Boston:


Impact Hub Houston:




Helping spark and lead our Core Conversations:

2:00PM – Moderated by Grace Rodriguez

Phillip J. Yates – Attorney (Yates & Associates, PLLC); CEO/Founder of Equiliberty, Inc.; Board Chair of Impact Hub Houston.

Phillip founded Equiliberty to end poverty by helping people learn how to use their existing resources and talents to grow thriving businesses, create jobs, and develop strong local economies that contribute to global prosperity. It leverages technology to democratize access to credit and provides the tools for creators to build infrastructure and self-sustainable revenue models that ultimately promote economic growth and justice for all.

Phillip Yates is also a Co-Founder and Managing Director of Diversity Fund Houston. The Diversity Fund Houston is a micro venture fund created to invest in black and brown tech founders during the “friends and family” round. Prior to founding Diversity Fund Houston, Phillip helped establish a pre-venture business incubator for minorities at the Houston Area Urban League (HAUL). In this role, he focused on identifying key resources to assist startups and early-stage founders with opportunities to scale . Since its inception, this program has helped over 5,000 minority entrepreneurs join the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Phillip is a licensed attorney in the State of Texas and the Southern District of the United States where he practices Bankruptcy and Corporate law. He also sits on the board for Lone Star Justice Alliance, League of Women Voters Houston, 100 Black Men of Metropolitan Houston, and serves as General Counsel for the Business Angel Minority Association (baMa) and Chairman of Impact Hub Houston, which connects and empowers people working to solve social problems in our city and around the world.

Grace Rodriguez – CEO/Executive Director of Impact Hub Houston

Grace helps spread ideas, create experiences, and spur action as a speaker, facilitator, producer and community developer for diverse companies and organizations, directly reaching over 298,000 people in the past decade. During Hurricane Harvey, she helped disseminate information to a quarter of a million people across Houston, and connected Sketch City’s tech volunteers with resources to effectively inform, rescue, shelter and feed people throughout the region. Grace raised awareness for Houston’s creative and startup communities to audiences of thousands over seven years of organizing “Houston at SXSW;” and engaged and energized 800+ high-profile participants as Creative Director for TED’s TEDActive Conference.

Grace is an active member of the: Nationswell Council; Kauffman ESHIP Ecosystem Developers community; Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE); City of Houston Women and Minority Business Task Force; Houston Exponential Startup Development Organizations Roundtable; and the Page 30 Coalition. She mentors startups at MassChallenge TX, Rice University’s Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (LILIE), the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at UH Bauer College, Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute (TMCx), and Capital Factory. She serves on the boards of Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH) and Writers in the Schools (WITS), and is the lead organizer of Women In Tech: Houston (WIT:H) and TEDxHouston.

3:00PM – Moderated by Michelle Avalos

Kelvin Lyons, What’s Good, Bro? (WGB) Podcast“A conversation amongst brothers on real life, the culture and any topics on black masculinity and community.”

Kerry Bowie, Managing Partner at Msaada Partners“I have spent more than twenty years exercising this passion in the areas of environmental research, operations, and policy within academia, industry, and government (with a focus on food, water, and energy in recent years). While I will continue to work in the environmental and energy space, especially as it relates to climate change and social equity, I have formally expanded my passion for efficiency to the areas of entrepreneurship and innovation, especially as it relates to entrepreneurs from underserved groups and/or ventures targeting their products/services at underserved communities.”

Karen Brown-Stovell, Founder of Forward Ever Sustainable Business Alliance and Co-Founder of Impact Hub New York Metropolitan Area.