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If we want to create a truly equitable world, we need to make sure the system works for our most marginalized communities first, says Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman. “The best outcome for Black women—and, more broadly, Black and Brown people—is going to be key to better outcomes for everyone else.” As the co-founder of the only nonprofit addressing the pipeline and pathway problem for Black women in economics, finance, and policy, Anna is dedicated to both identifying and intervening in patterns of discrimination. Her book, The Black Agenda, is the first ever to feature Black experts offering solutions to inequality across different policy areas. In talks, Anna draws on her research to show you practical and surprisingly simple ways to fight discrimination in the workplace and beyond. With inequality on the rise at the national level, her insights have never been more vital. “We cannot build a better world and leave people behind,” she says. “So we either live in a worse world, or we build a better one—and bring everybody with us.”
Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman is an award-winning researcher, writer, and speaker who identifies and intervenes in patterns of discrimination in the workplace and beyond. In 2022, she published a critically acclaimed collection, The Black Agenda: Bold Solutions for a Broken System, exclusively featuring Black scholars and experts across economics, education, health, climate, criminal justice, and technology. She was named to the inaugural class of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Boston. As we collectively reckon with the aftermath of the pandemic and finally begin to face the deep-rootedness of bias in this country, her work is empowering, exciting, and indispensable for the new world we’re building.
At the core of her research and advocacy, Anna aims to identify and intervene in patterns of discrimination across race, gender, and class. Her guiding ethos is that helping the most vulnerable among us will help everyone in the long run. In The Black Agenda—the first book of its kind—Anna highlights activism, scholarship, and expertise from leading Black voices across America. The book has received praise from the likes of New York Times bestselling authors and acclaimed experts. Chelsea Clinton declares, “The Black Agenda is urgent. It’s urgent that white people recognize that centering, listening to, and being led by the voices in this book are the start to investing in societal solutions.” Adam Grant, NYT bestselling author of Think Again, calls Anna “an award-winning founder and change-maker bringing together prominent Black scholars to examine what we can do to fight systemic racism and build a more just world.”
In addition to research and policy, Anna has led multiple award-winning youth initiatives. In 2018, she co-founded the Sadie Collective, the first nonprofit organization in the United States specifically addressing the underrepresentation of Black women and girls in the quantitative sciences. Under her leadership, the Collective drew wide support from leaders across economics, policy, and industry, including Janet Yellen, current Secretary of the Treasury and the first female Chair of the Federal Reserve. Her efforts earned her the 2020 CEDAW Women’s Rights Award by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, making her the youngest recipient in history for the award. The award was previously awarded to Vice President Kamala Harris and the former Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. She is also the brainchild and co-founder of #BlackBirdersWeek, a global campaign highlighting Black nature enthusiasts and scientists, and her talks within the broader science community emphasize the structural underpinnings of academic institutions and scientific disciplines.
Anna’s work is fueled by the hope and promise of the next generation. She often speaks to schools and universities around the world about the intersection of social justice and research. As an alumna of multiple pipeline programs for minority students, including the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, the top producer of Black scientists in the United States, she understands why empowering students to believe in themselves is critical for positive change.
Anna’s writing and commentary have been widely featured in TIME Magazine, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Forbes, and Newsweek. In 2019, she co-authored a viral New York Times op-ed with Dr. Lisa D. Cook, the first African-American woman and first woman of color to sit on the Federal Reserve Board, about the importance of Black women’s representation in economics. Anna’s research insights, which address the intersection of race, gender, and class, are highly sought after by policymakers, nonprofit organizations, campuses, and companies worldwide. She has spoken at conferences, like SXSW and NextUp, and government agencies such as the Embassies of the United States in Berlin and Frankfurt. She has also delivered talks at academic institutions and organizations like Stanford University, Hallmark, Ford Foundation, and The Chicago Federal Reserve Bank. She is the author of the forthcoming book The Double Tax, which will explore how costs define the lives women lead, with Penguin Random House and Portfolio Books.
Anna is currently a doctoral candidate studying Public Policy and Economics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, as well as an alumna of UMBC where she received her B.A. in Mathematics and a minor in Economics.
Anna was fantastic. Her contributions to the conversation on inclusive hybrid work were so important and vital. We cannot express our extreme gratitude to Anna enough. Thank you to Lavin for all of your help in coordinating her speaking engagement with us.Stanford
True Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has become a common goal in corporate America. But how do we actually start to make it a reality in our organizations? Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman knows how. A Harvard researcher and activist with a wealth of real-world experience, she shows you the frameworks and data-driven approaches that can actually make a difference in your company—today and into the future.
In this talk, Anna reveals the breadth and depth of DEI within your organization, showing you how to empower employees to be their true selves and reach their full potential. She draws on her experience to provide insight into what works for everything from talent acquisition to retention. You’ll learn how to harness the power of employee resource groups for driving positive change, and walk away with practical strategies for implementing tried-and-true frameworks in your company. With Anna’s tools and insights, you’ll be able to drive real change within your organization and develop a culture of true equity where everyone can thrive.
Diversity has been a hot topic in academia and policy for the past few years, but the stakes have never been higher than they are today. Policies are being passed at the federal and legislative level that have huge implications for vulnerable groups: for example, the Supreme Court’s ban on affirmative action. “We need tools that are complementary to inclusive policymaking,” says Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman. “The conversations we need to have now are less focused on ‘What’s the best policy?’ and more about, ‘What can we do outside the policy context that still achieves the outcome we want to see?’”
In this vital, solutions-focused talk, Anna draws on her book The Black Agenda to explore the importance of seeking racial justice at every level of academia and policy. She can customize this talk to any context, showcasing influential experts and insightful case studies. She offers practical examples of implementing The Black Agenda’s solutions at the national and international level, showing you why equity matters in every context and what you can do to work towards it.
Amidst the myriad challenges that the next generation faces, from the pressing urgency of climate change to navigating political turmoil, empowering young people to take action and lead is more critical than ever.
In this inspiring fireside chat, join Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, a thinker, researcher, and activist, as she steps forward to ignite the flame of leadership among her young millennial and Generation Z peers. Drawing inspiration from her interactions with students and young professionals, Anna reflects on her own journey as a young advocate, researcher, and policy leader. Through compelling personal anecdotes, she addresses vital topics spanning social justice, education, and evidence-based solutions, all crucial for organizations, schools, and nonprofits today. Her profound experiences and insights serve as a catalyst, inspiring people of all ages to embrace their potential and drive positive change for a more just and equitable world.