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Elevate is proud to present #GenBlack is Skilled: A Seat at the Table, in the final week of our Black History Month programming. This panel is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of Black professionals who will increase Black economic empowerment through employment and entrepreneurship.

The panel will bring together Career Connections alum Maddison Gold, founder of Digital Marketing agency Foundation, Ross Simmonds, and People and Culture leader Charisse Fontes, Founder of CultureCircle, for a discussion on how a new generation of Black professionals can be key contributors to a more equitable and inclusive society by bringing diverse talent and perspectives to traditionally homogeneous workplaces and organizational levels. Alexis Charles, Learning Program Manager at Facebook will moderate.

Panelists will share their stories of entering careers in entrepreneurship and digital marketing; navigating workplace culture efforts on diversity, inclusion, and belonging; and tips for how jobseekers/early career professionals can build their skills and experiences as confident contributors that define diverse workplace.

Panelist | Charisse Fontes

Charisse Fontes is a visionary, founder, author, educator, and speaker that brings the message of high-vibration and humanity to the work she does. As the Founder of Culture Circle, she empowers healthy and inclusive workplaces through anthropology and humanity. She also runs a social enterprise called Humanity Power™, which is dedicated to ending the ‘isms. Humanity Power™ was birthed out of a much-needed workshop called 'How To Become A Racist,' Charisse took attendees on a journey from Birth-to-Racism while debunking and solving racism along with other 'isms. Charisse studies culture, religions, and tribes to enrich humanity focused work and reach. When she isn't doing this work, she spends time with her family, hanging out in nature, or serving her community as a birth doula.

Panelist |  Ross Simmonds

Ross Simmonds is the founder & CEO of Foundation, a global marketing agency that provides services to organizations all over the world ranging from some of the fastest-growing startups to global brands. Ross sits on the board of directors for Volta Labs, Phoenix House and Boys & Girls Club of Preston. Ross is also a well sought out public speaker, an angel investor and the author of multiple books.

Panelist |  Maddison Gold

Maddison Gold is a graduate student studying International Affairs at Texas A&M University. She serves as a board member for the Arts Council of Brazos Valley and works as a social media assistant for Teeniors, a company that provides technology coaching for seniors. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and creative writing.

Host |  Alexis Charles

Alexis Charles is a program manager, educator, and facilitator dedicated to changing the world through innovative learning experiences. Alexis has developed, delivered, and managed programs and courses in diversity, equity and inclusion, leadership development, and community engagement. Prior to joining Facebook as a Learning Program Manager for Engineering Onboarding, Alexis was at The Obama Foundation as the Blended Learning Manager, where she oversaw a national leadership development and community organizing program for young adults. Prior to the Obama Foundation, she created and managed education content at LeanIn.Org, to help people learn about and navigate gender bias in their personal and professional lives. Alexis is passionate about creating and supporting social impact and diverse, inclusive, and equitable leadership and learning.