The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Anna Unites Bold and Brave Voices to Uplift Black America

Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman is behind The Black Agenda: the first ever book to bring together dozens of Black writers, scholars, and leaders to solve today’s most pressing social issues, from economics to education to climate change. The Black Agenda “will challenge what you think is possible” (Ibram X. Kendi, New York Times bestselling author).

America needs help. We’re confronting police brutality, the resurgence of white supremacy, and COVID’s disproportionate effect on Black communities. What’s next? How do we fix this?


Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman decided to bring together some of the country’s brightest, most engaged Black voices to figure out the solutions. The result is The Black Agenda (out now!), a profound and fearless vision for how we can reckon with and root out centuries of oppression.


Anna’s book tackles the big problems we face today, from economics and healthcare, to education and climate action: she asks radical questions and draws out dramatic and courageous answers that reveal how all of these problems are related to racism—and what we need to do to solve them. It’s an “inclusive,  edifying, often fiery assembly” (Kirkus Reviews) of new thoughts that point the way to a new America.

To book diversity speaker Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency today and speak with one of our sales agents.

How To Have Better Conversations About Race At Work

We, as a society, haven’t been the same since the horrifying video of George Floyd’s death circulated the Internet earlier this year. Beyond the international protests against police brutality, this tragic incident has sparked a wider conversation about racial bias in all areas of our lives—including at work.

A new report by The Society for Human Resource Management finds that 49% of Black professionals feel that discrimination based on race or ethnicity exists in their workplace. They write, “Despite years of financial and strategic investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion, U.S. companies have notable numbers of workers who express concerns and discomfort about fundamental issues of racial equality in the workplace.”


Good intentions aside, it’s clear that diversity initiatives are lacking. They fail to create real change that translates into the lived experience of employees. What’s missing? And how can we change it? Below are a few resources from Lavin exclusive speakers who have been spearheading real change in this arena for years.


Gain a Clear Understanding of the Concepts
The words equity, inclusion, and diversity are often used interchangeably. But what do they really mean? Lavin Speaker Ritu Bhasin has been teaching these concepts for decades in an effort to help nurture people’s authentic selves at work. In this short video, she helpfully explains the differences between these terms as a starting point for having truly informed conversations about race at work.


Be Willing to Have Difficult Conversations About Race (No Matter Your Race)
The SHRM report found that “more than one-third of U.S. workers don’t feel comfortable engaging in candid conversations about race at work.” But for real change to occur, having a hands-on experience that involves everyone—especially white people—is absolutely vital. It’s not enough to invite an expert to lecture your team on the importance of diversity as an abstract concept. In this CSPAN video, watch as Heather McGhee takes a question from a caller who openly admits his own prejudice. What ensues is a fruitful and powerful conversation about race in America. It’s conversations like these that are most uncomfortable, but are most essential for transformation.


Acknowledge Systemic Racism
Leaders need to acknowledge the racism happening both inside and outside of work on a deep and systemic level. This free, downloadable book released by Harvard University Press is not only for college students. It’s a fantastic resource for everyone who wishes to learn more about anti-black racism in this country, featuring work by Lavin speakers Anthony Jack, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, and Kwame Anthony Appiah. Historian Annette Gordon Reed—recently named a Harvard University professor—wrote the book’s forward: “The United States is, apparently, living through one of those punctua­tion points in history that, seemingly out of the blue, arrive to spur societal change.”


To book a Diversity and Inclusion Speaker for your next virtual event, contact The Lavin Agency today and speak with one of our qualified speaking agents.

Public Policy Expert Heather McGhee Explores the Hidden Cost of Racism in Her New TED Talk

In an eye-opening talk for TED, Heather McGhee reveals how a surprising on-air confrontation around racial prejudice helped her make a stunning realization about our current economic landscape.

It turns out, racism isn’t just bad for people of color. It’s bad for everyone. As Heather McGhee declares in her TEDWomen talk: “Racism leads to bad policy-making. [And] it’s making our economy worse.”


After an exchange with a prejudiced C-Span caller went viral, McGhee began to rethink the economic problems plaguing the nation. “I wondered, is it possible that our society's racism has likewise been backfiring on the very same people set up to benefit from privilege?” This question took her on a journey writing, researching, and traveling around the country, where she came to the conclusion that many of our economic issues, from the 2008 financial crisis to our gutted social safety net, can be attributed to racist ideologies and institutions. In other words, the status quo isn’t working for us. But in her captivating talk, McGhee offers historical examples and personal anecdotes to show us that a new reality is possible.


Watch her full talk here.


To book speaker Heather McGhee for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency, her exclusive speakers bureau.

Lavin’s Top Race Speakers Explore the Past and Present, and Share Their Solutions for the Future

As we enter a new decade, there’s a lot to look forward to—and a lot left to fight for. And unfortunately, racism isn’t a relic of shameful times past—it’s still very much alive today. Here at The Lavin Agency, our Top Race Speakers tackle this tough topic from all angles—public policy, pop culture, education, and art, to name a few—and offer insightful, informed analyses of where we stand now, and where we’re going.

Heather McGhee is the social policy and racial healing expert on whom Starbucks called to tackle challenging racism within the company after a damning video went viral. As the former President of Demos, a public policy organization, she spent several years drafting legislation aimed at creating an America where everyone has an equal chance in the economy, and an equal say in democracy. McGhee knows firsthand that bridging racial divides is not only a possibility, but a necessity that we all need to work toward. With profound truth and grace, she demonstrates how harnessing the potential of embracing diversity in concrete ways can strengthen democracy, equity and equality in society.  


What Does it Mean to be an American Today? | Heather McGhee


Jeff Chang is a social historian and the author of We Gon’ Be Alright, which offers critical essays addressing re-segregation, diversity, and equality—which was recently adapted into a digital series. The former Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, he explores the intersection of art, racial progress and multiculturalism. Chang understands contemporary American society— everything from social movements like #BlackLivesMatter, to Beyoncé’s “Lemonade”—and our social progress like few others. 


EDUCATE the STATE! Jeff Chang, Part 4


Nikole Hannah-Jones is an investigative reporter for The New York Times Magazine, a MacArthur ‘Genius’, and a winner of the National Magazine Award for her work exploring how modern segregation is playing out across schools. Her recent, award-winning major multimedia initiative, The 1619 Project—named after the year the first enslaved Africans arrived in America—explores the lasting, pervasive legacy of slavery on our nation. Hannah-Jones has also been awarded a Peabody Award, a George Polk Award for radio reporting, was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, and co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting. Brilliant, hyper-informed, and insightful, Hannah Jones provides powerful reminders that, despite our progress, we must remain vigilant in the vital fight against racial inequality.


Nikole Hannah-Jones:


Gabby Rivera is the real-life superhero behind America, Marvel’s first Latin-American LGBTQ character to star in an ongoing series. Also the author of the celebrated novel Juliet Takes a Breath, Rivera draws inspiration from her own background as a queer Latinx to bring her vibrant characters to life. Delving into the importance of diversity, and the importance of encouraging young people develop their creativity, Rivera explores just how vital it is to enable diverse voices—especially those of young people—to reclaim power in the media. Speaking to her work, her role as an activist, and her inspiring life experiences, Rivera shares just how art and writing can disrupt the status quo in powerful, beautiful ways. 


Writing your Heritage is Radical Creativity | Gabby Rivera


Jelani Cobb is one of the most prominent voices in today’s conversations around race issues. A staff writer for The New Yorker, and an expert on how race, politics, and popular culture intersect in America, he’s got wit, style, and pop culture cred to boot. Also the author of the highly-acclaimed The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress, Cobb also writes on pressing issues like mass incarceration, police shootings and the subsequent riots, and the public response. As a preeminent authority on race and injustice, Jelani explores the complex web of racism in America—and how to push towards equity. 


Jelani Cobb speaks at the closing night of PalFest 2017


Negin Farsad is a self-described “social justice comedian”, harnessing the power of laughter to change minds. She directed and starred in The Muslims Are Coming!, a comedy-meets-documentary, in which she brought Muslim comedians on a cross-country tour of small town America. It’s a kind of activism-in-disguise, which had the profound effect of opening previously-closed minds. Righting inequality is a serious task, but as Farsad’s work shows, social justice and activism can be a fun (and funny) experience.


How dirty jokes can promote equality in Muslim culture | MORAL COURAGE EP. 16


Waneek Horn-Miller is a truly remarkable force. An Indigenous activist and Olympic athlete with an incredible story, she’s a champion both in the athletic sense, and a champion for human rights. While protesting the infamous Oka Crisis, a teenage Horn-Miller was stabbed in the heart by a Canadian soldier: and almost died. She emerged from recovery with a mission—and PTSD—to become a leader not only for her community, but for the world. As a champion swimmer, she’s represented Canada at the Olympics, and taken home the gold at the PanAm Games. And now, she channels this spirit of perseverance and resilience into advocacy: once again turning trials into triumphs.


Without hope, there’s no health | Waneek Horn-Miller | Walrus Talks


Khalil Gibran Muhammad is a diversity expert and the author of The Condemnation of Blackness. As a Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at Harvard, he’s uniquely knowledgeable on American race relations: where we’ve come from, and just how far we have to go. Even in a society that professes “opportunity for all”, there is still a very large gap in power distribution between white people and people of color, and Muhammed explores the next steps necessary to fight racism, offering practical solutions for a more equitable future for all our children, regardless of the color of their skin.


The Importance of Race Education | Khalil Gibran Muhammad


Sarah Lewis is a Harvard professor who has worked with everyone from Obama to Oprah. Also a renowned art curator known for her powerful views on the intersection of racial justice and art, Lewis sparked a national conversation with her “Vision & Justice”—the landmark issue of Aperture dedicated to photography of the black experience. Can art today bring about the catalytic social change that it has in the past? Lewis explores these kinds of powerful question with warmth, depth, and hope.


How Images Shape Our Understanding of Justice | Sarah Lewis | TEDxHarvardCollege


Angela Davis is a legendary human rights activist and icon of her generation: an outspoken powerhouse who was at the vanguard of the Black Power movement, prison reform, and feminist scholarship. Offering a firsthand account of the most powerful social movements in the latter half of the twentieth century, she shares her past and focuses on the present: how far have we come, and what current injustices do we need to address? With a nuanced and passionate look at America's problems with racism and injustice, Davis offers an incredibly informed forecast on the future of equality, and analysis of where we stand today.


Angela Davis - Malcolm X Event - Oxford Union

To book one of these inspiring Race Speakers for your next speaking engagement, contact The Lavin Agency and speak with an agent from our sales team.

Lavin’s Most Powerful Voices in the Fight Against White Nationalism

White nationalism looks and sounds different than it used to—in many cases appearing, thinly disguised, in mainstream media and at the highest levels of government. Add to that the power of the internet, making it easier than ever to radicalize, and you’ve got a scary situation that needs strong, sensible, compelling voices on race, justice, activism, and empathy.  

New York Times op-ed writer Wajahat Ali has become a go-to authority on the subject in the wake of the tragic terrorist attack at a New Zealand mosque. Here is he on MSNBC, discussing the president’s response.   

Wajahat Ali:



Reza Aslan’s New York Times bestselling books and packed lectures have propelled him to the frontlines in the fight against white nationalism. Aslan argues that it is fear—organized and well-funded—that perpetuates bigotry and victimizes us all. Only united will be have the power to fight it. 


TEDxConejo - Reza Aslan - Unity in Diversity



In his new book The War for Kindness, Jamil Zaki pairs compelling real-life stories with empirical evidence to prove that not only can empathy be taught, it can be taught to such a degree that stone-cold hatred becomes love.  


BUILDING EMPATHY: How to hack empathy and get others to care more | Jamil Zaki | TEDxMarin


To book Wajahat Ali, Reza Aslan, or Jamil Zaki for your next event contact The Lavin Agency.