Deesha Dyer, Former White House Social Secretary | NOVEMBER 30, 2020
Deesha Dyer is the Founder and CEO of Hook & Fasten, a social impact agency that specializes in transformational relationships between corporations and communities, diversity & inclusion and executive operations. Dyer is an award-winning strategist, on-the-ground community organizer, and executive operations expert. She specializes in transforming ideas into causes that create tangible change. For nearly two decades, she has produced social-impact campaigns across entertainment, politics, philanthropy and business.
At 31 years old, Dyer entered the Obama Administration as a community college student intern and ultimately worked her way up to serving as White House Social Secretary. In that role, she resolved to not only open, but build lasting doors of opportunity for others. Dyer coordinated the historic visit by Pope Francis and booked legendary acts including Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen and Aretha Franklin. Dyer recently completed a two-year tenure at the Ford Foundation, and in December 2019, finished a fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, where she designed and taught a study course entitled, “ From Imposter to Impact.”
Named to Marie Claire ’s new guard of women changing the world, Dyer’s personal journey has been guided by an unwavering passion for servant leadership, civic engagement, and social justice. In 2015, Essence called her “one of the most powerful women calling the shots in the Obama Administration.”
Her passion for activism predates her time in Washington. In 2003, she created Cover Your Lover, a hip-hop HIV/AIDS prevention program. In 2007, while at the forefront of corporate social responsibility for a Philadelphia company, she established an employee giving program. Moved by Hurricane Katrina, she began a campaign to provide feminine hygiene products to women after natural disasters, and, to date, the campaign has donated a total of $15,000 in products. She recently volunteered as the acting operations lead for the Bronx Community Relief Effort , a response to COVID-19.
Dyer is the co-founder of beGirl.world , an organization that empowers teen girls through global education and travel. In 2019, beGirl.world awarded scholarships to two female college students studying abroad. She also oversees additional initiatives, including Black Girl 44 , a scholarship fund for young black women seeking internships in Washington, D.C., the Deesha Dyer Second Chance Scholarship at the Community College of Philadelphia, and Impact of a Vote , which aims to expose African American students to non-traditional careers in public service and politics.
Dyer is also a sought-after keynote speaker known for delivering engaging talks on a range of topics -- spanning women in leadership, confidence, diversity, and social change.
Bill Yosses, Former White House Pastry Chef | DECEMBER 1, 2020
From January 2007 to July 2014, Bill Yosses held the prestigious title of the White House Executive Pastry Chef . As Pastry Chef of the White House, he was closely involved with Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move initiative with the goal of reducing childhood health problems related to diet. While there, he conducted bi-weekly tours of the White House vegetable garden for school groups.
In a related project, he has given lectures for the “Science and Cooking Course” in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. The New York City Department of Education has hired his non-profit “Kitchen Garden Laboratory” to give seminars at their STEM INSTITUTE, on the art of cooking to teach science in the classroom for middle-schoolers.
Angella Reid, Former White House Chief Usher | DECEMBER 1, 2020
Angella Reid is an authentic leader with over 30 years of experience in the field of hospitality management and a passion for service to others. In an historic appointment she became the first woman and ninth person in history to manage the day to day operations of the White House as Director of the Executive Residence and Chief Usher.
As Chief Usher, Reid led a team of 100 full time employees whose priority it was to care for the building, it’s decorative and historical artifacts as well as the private and public lives of the First Family of the United States. A natural leader grounded in fiscal responsibility and the levers of business she transitioned from the private sector to government creating and executing annual budgets approved by Congress, built strong strategic relationships with The National Park Service, The White House Historical
Association and the Secret Service, integral partners in the successful planning and staging of over 12 State Dinners, 600 Receptions and numerous large scale events such as the historic visit of Pope Francis in 2015.
Marshall Jones, Former Sales at Fairmont Hotel / Professor of Hospitality | DECEMBER 2, 2020
Marshall earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public and Urban Administration from Georgia State University. He has also earned multiple certificates from the Cecil B. Day School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. With hard work and perseverance through personal and professional challenges, Marshall has become an accomplished hospitality leader who brings nearly 25 years of experience to his current role at Prestige Global Meeting Source. Prior to joining Prestige, Marshall had worked for various hotel management companies, most recently Accor/Fairmont Hotels. During his tenure, he oversaw all aspects of sales, catering, advertising, public relations, revenue management, and marketing.
While boasting numerous accomplishments, he is most proud of his role in transitioning an independent hotel through a full rebrand including a multi-million-dollar restoration. Marshall is currently involved in several community and non-profit organizations and is an adjunct professor for the Hospitality School at San Jose State University. He continues to mentor others and hopes to instill in as many people as he can the understanding that their dreams and aspirations are just a belief away, anything is possible with the right mindset.
Aimee Bender, American novelist and short story writer | DECEMBER 7, 2020
Aimee Bender is the author of six books: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (1998) which was a NY Times Notable Book, An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000) which was an L.A. Times pick of the year, Willful Creatures (2005) which was nominated by The Believer as one of the best books of the year, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010) which won the SCIBA award for best fiction, and an Alex Award, The Color Master, a NY Times Notable book for 2013, and her latest novel, The Butterfly Lampshade, which came out in July 2020, and was listed by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the picks of the year. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages.
Her short fiction has been published in Granta, GQ, Harper’s, Tin House, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, and more, as well as heard on PRI’s “This American Life”and “Selected Shorts”.
She lives in Los Angeles with her family, and teaches creative writing at USC.