2023 Empowerment & Policy Conference

September 7-8, 2023


Thursday, September 7

Check in and Registration Opens

Time: 8:00 AM

Welcome and opening remarks

Time: 9:00 AM - 9:20 AM

Plenary 1

Time: 9:20 AM - 10:15 AM
Speakers: Diedre Johnson Burrell, Jan Molle, Lamar Gardere, Tyronne Walker

SEE CHANGE: How Some are Working to Close the Racial Wealth Gap and Strengthen the Economy for All in Louisiana

Breakout Sessions

Time: 10:30 AM - 11:15 AM

  • Representation Matters: How Black Venture Capitalists and Investors are Changing the Game for Black Businesses
  • More Work To Do: Criminal Justice Reform Progress and What's Ahead
  • Ensuring a Healthier Louisiana by Eliminating Healthy Food Deserts
  • Race in Louisiana: How the Culture Wars are Poisoning Louisiana Elections and Legislature, Hurting Everyone in the Process

Breakout Sessions

Time: 11:30 AM - 12:15 AM

  • It's a Family Affair: Building Black Wealth at Any Age
  • Community Policing: Is it Still a Viable Public Safety Strategy in Today's Climate?
  • Right to Life: Combating Chronic Diseases in Louisiana
  • The Importance of Preserving and Promoting Black History in Louisiana

Luncheon and Plenary 2

Time: 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
Speakers: Symone Sanders Townsend

Democracy in Crisis with Symone Sanders TownsendHow Louisianans are on the front lines of the fight for American democracy from voting rights to the culture wars and the impact civic engagement will have for decades to come.

Breakout Sessions

Time: 1:45 PM - 2:30 PM

  • The Alphabet Soup of Entrepreneurial Resources: SBA, LED, GNO Inc., and WBRC
  • Community Safety Work: How Do We Strengthen Community Networks to Prevent and Intervene in Conflicts and Violence Before Police
  • All In: How Communities and Healthcare Providers Can Partner to Improve Health Outcomes for Black and Brown Communities

Breakout Sessions

Time: 2:45 PM - 3:30 PM

  • Reimagining Workforce in Louisiana that Creates Pathways to Careers and Wealth
  • Agreeing on What's Needed Most: How Police Calls for Service Data Can Inform Better Ways to Utilize Police and Other Interventions
  • The Important Role of Corporate DEI Leaders in Advancing Systems Change in Louisiana

Plenary 3

Time: 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
Speakers: Brandan "BMike" Odums, Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes, DJ Johnson, Dr. Phebe Haye, Sylvester Marshall, Jr.

More Than ArtistsHow Creatives can Help Shape Policy Solutions With a Seat at the Table

Sponsor/VIP Dinner and Reception

Time: 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Friday, September 8

Check in and Registration Opens

Time: 8:00 AM

Plenary 4

Time: 9:20 AM - 10:15 AM
Speakers: Rep. Vincent Pierre

On the Front Lines: Black State Legislators Partnering With Advocates

Breakout Sessions

Time: 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM

  • A Conversation With University Presidents: The University’s Role in Education, Equity, and Economic Opportunity
  • Going on the Offense: Reimagining Black and Brown Voter Power in Louisiana
  • The State of Early Care and Education in Louisiana

Breakout Sessions

Time: 11:30 AM - 12:15 PM

  • Strengthening Coalitions: How to Ignite the Partnerships Needed to Sustain Voting Rights and Civic Engagement in Louisiana
  • The Numbers Don’t Lie: How Education Inequity in Louisiana is Harming Our State’s Future, Those Tackling the Problem

Plenary 5

Off the Court: 
How NBA Star CJ McCollum is Helping to Lift Up Communities and Encourage Other Athletes To Do the Same

Time: 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
Speakers: CJ McCollum

Symone Sanders Townsend

Author, seasoned democratic strategist and host of “SYMONE” on MSNBC and MSNBC on Peacock.

Plenary Keynote Speaker

Symone rose to prominence in 2016 as the national press secretary for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’s then-presidential campaign.  At 25, she became the youngest presidential press secretary on record and was named to Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 16 young Americans shaping  the 2016 election.  At 29, she published her first book, No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth to Power and Reclaiming America and served as a senior advisor for President Joe Biden's 2020 presidential campaign.  At 31, Symone was appointed as a senior member of the Biden-Harris administration serving as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris.

CJ McCollum

Plenary Keynote Speaker

Professional basketball player, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, CJ McCollum is a guard for the New Orleans Pelicans, President of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), and founder of the Oregon wine label, McCollum Heritage 91.

Off the court, McCollum has proven to be an engaged member of the communities where he lives and works. He has partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs to create the CJ McCollum Dream Centers, innovative spaces that provide the resources necessary to help students from underserved communities learn, explore, create, grow, and think outside the box about what life’s possibilities are.

He works to address food insecurity through strategic partnerships with the Akron-Canton Food Bank and Goodr and serves as a board member of the athlete-led Social Change Fund United organization.

A proven leader amongst his peers, McCollum was elected President of the National Basketball Players Association in 2021 where he represents the interests of all 450 players in the NBA. McCollum also serves as President of the NBPA Foundation.

Of all his many roles, McCollum is most proud to be a husband to Dr. Elise McCollum and dad to their 1-year-old son, Jacobi. The McCollum Family, and their beloved dog Fiona, reside in the New Orleans area.