2023 Summit Speakers

Jay Ellis

Jay Ellis

Jay Ellis is an LA-based actor, writer, director, and producer. Most recently seen as ‘Lawrence’ on HBO’s critically-acclaimed, Golden Globe-nominated series Insecure, created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore.  

Ellis made his directorial debut in Insecure’s Season 4 episode ‘Lowkey Trippin’. Jay will soon be seen in the highly anticipated, Top Gun: Maverick, where he will star alongside Tom Cruise. Jay also stars opposite Alison Brie in the upcoming Dave Franco directed Amazon movie Somebody I Used To Know. Previously, Jay appeared opposite Rose Byrne and Cate Blanchett on the FX/Hulu limited series Mrs. America. He also starred in the Sony thriller Escape Room. Jay directed an episode of the upcoming HBO Max series Rap Sh*t. He and his production company Black Bar Mitzvah have set up TV and film projects at Hulu, BET, AMC, Viacom, FX, HBO, MRC, Netflix, Sony, Escape Artists, Endeavor Content, and Amazon. Their feature Black Box, also produced by Blumhouse, premiered on Amazon and became its 6th most streamed film of 2020. 

Jay won a 2018 NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Supporting Actor” in a Comedy Series. Jay also starred as ‘Bryce “Blue” Westbrook’ on the hit BET series The Game from 2013-2015. Jay served as the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Spokesman. The Obama administration requested him to speak and moderate a panel at the White House for the final My Brother’s Keeper summit. 

Stedman Graham

Stedman Graham

Stedman Graham is a business advisor, chairman and CEO of S. Graham and Associates, a management and marketing consulting firm. 

He is the author of 12 books, including two New York Times best sellers and one Wall Street Journal bestseller.  

As a businessman, educator and speaker, Graham lectures and conducts  training programs for corporations and educational organizations worldwide on the topic of Identity Leadership, based on the philosophy that one cannot lead anyone else until you first lead yourself. He has delivered Identity Leadership programs in The Netherlands, Germany, China, Canada, the UK, Bermuda and South Africa. 

His proven Nine Step Success Process® drives his powerful message. This success process is based on the principle that it doesn’t matter how the world defines you, it only matters how you define yourself. Graham is honored  as a distinguished visiting professor at colleges and universities throughout the country. He is a former adjunct professor at the Northwestern Kellogg School of Business where he taught the course, “The Dynamics of Leadership.” 

Graham’s clients include Gulfstream, Aerospace, Microsoft, Deloitte, Wells Fargo, Lenovo, General Dynamics and the US Department of Labor and Education.

As a proud native of Whitesboro, New Jersey, Graham has demonstrated an enduring dedication to youth and community. His New York Times best seller,  Teens Can Make it Happen has become a program utilized in numerous middle and high schools in the US and abroad. 

With dedication to community development, Graham is the founder of the Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro and the Concerned Citizens of Lake Wacamaw, North Carolina. He is also the Co-founder of the Community Alliance for Youth Success (CAYS) and a member of Horatio Alger.

Stedman Graham has served in the United States Army and played professional basketball in the European League. Graham holds a Bachelor Degree in Social Work from Hardin-Simmons University and a Masters Degree in Education from Ball State University and has been awarded three honorary Doctorates. Graham serves on several boards and has received numerous awards. 

Dr. Luis Ponjean

Dr. Luis Ponjuan

Dr. Luis Ponjuan is an Associate Professor in Higher Education Administration in the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development at Texas A&M University. His research focuses on male students of color academic success and college degree completion, first-generation students’ access into higher education, and the recruitment and retention of faculty members of color. He has earned research grant funding from the TG Foundation, The Greater Texas Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was awarded the 2012 National Education Association’s New Scholar Prize, selected as a 2009 Faculty Fellow from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, and designated as a 2008 ASHE and Ford Foundation Fellow. He earned his PhD in Higher Education Administration from the University of Michigan, his Masters of Science from The Florida State University, and his Bachelors of Science from the University of New Orleans. He was born in La Habana, Cuba and is a first-generation college graduate. 

Brandon Frame

Brandon Frame

Brandon Frame is a visionary leader, social innovator and educator. He is the Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of TheBlackManCan, Inc. an award-winning nonprofit that amplifies the stories of what Black Men and Boys can do. Guided by his vision TheBlackManCan, Inc. has impacted over 10,000 Black Men and Boys across the world, established a MENtor network of over 500 Black Men and built a socially conscious online community that has over 900,000 followers and generates 7 million impressions weekly. Accomplishments and accolades are no stranger to Brandon Frame, but what makes him extraordinary is the humility and servant-leadership that marks his life. Brandon Frame is the Senior Director of Social Emotional Learning at The Urban Assembly where he leads a team to work with districts and schools around implementation, integration and sustainability of Social Emotional Learning. Brandon is also Co-Founder of the award-winning twitter chat #hiphoped and the Author of Define Yourself, Redefine the World: A Guided Journal for Boys and Men of color and the children's book My First Tie.

For his service to his community, Brandon has received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Award, Change Maker of the Year, and was named Next in Class in the field of Education by Black Entertainment Television. Brandon’s work has been featured in  Black Enterprise, Boston Globe, Essence and he has appeared on CBS, NBC, ABC, HLN and NY1 as New Yorker of the Week. Brandon pursues excellence with impeccable effort in all that he does. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Boston University, a graduate of Morehouse College and resides in Bronx, NY.

Dr. J. Luke Wood

Dr. J. Luke Wood

“I strive to be an equity-minded leader and scholar who is committed to student success, academic excellence, and economic mobility.”

J. Luke Wood, Ph.D. is the Vice President for Student Affairs & Campus Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer at San Diego State University (SDSU). Wood is also the Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Education and a tenured full Professor in the Department of Administration, Rehabilitation and Postsecondary Education (ARPE) at SDSU. According to the Black in the Crimson in Black, Wood is the first and only Distinguished Professor of Black/African American descent in SDSU’s history. He joined SDSU in 2011 and is an active researcher and equity-driven leader.

In his capacity as Vice President, Wood oversees a Division of nearly 500 professional staff and 2,000 student staff designed to provide co-curricular experiences to students and advance equity and inclusion for students, faculty, and staff at SDSU. Wood leads an operating budget of $46 million with 55 departments in Student Affairs (e.g., Student Health, Counseling, Residence Halls, Student Life, Financial Aid, Cultural Centers, Fraternity and Sorority Life) and Campus Diversity (e.g., faculty and staff professional learning, Employee Resource Groups, faculty inclusion-hiring, general advising). In 2021-2022, his Division secured more than $12 million in philanthropic and sponsorship funding to support critical student and faculty initiatives. Prior to becoming Chief Diversity Officer and Cabinet member in 2018, Wood served as the Director of the Joint Ph.D. Program in Education between SDSU and Claremont Graduate University (2016-2018) and Director of the Ed.D. Program in Community College Leadership at SDSU (2013-2018). Before this, Wood was the Director of the Executive Ed.D. Program at Lincoln Memorial University and Coordinator of the Arizona Education Policy Fellowship Program (AZ-EPFP). 

As a Distinguished Professor, Wood serves as the Co-Director of the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL), a national research and practice center that partners with community colleges to support their capacity in advancing outcomes for underserved students of color. Through CCEAL, Wood has served as an advisor and consultant to hundreds of colleges and university leaders on strategic planning, equity and diversity planning, diversity crisis management, equitable hiring practices, and reducing equity gaps for students of color. Wood is also the Founding Professor of the Black Minds Matter public course and virtual series. The series features leading educators and activists who draw parallels between the experiences of Black lives in policing and Black minds in schooling. The most recent series had over 30,000 learners from across the nation.

Wood’s research focuses on racial equity in education with a specific focus on early childhood education and community colleges. In particular, his research examines contributors to positive outcomes for boys and men of color.  Dr. Wood has delivered over 2,000 scholarly professional and conference presentations. His research has been featured by NBC, New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Huffington Post, Fortune Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, C-SPAN, and National Press Club. Dr. Wood has authored over 175 publications, including 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and 16 books.

Wood is the co-sponsor of AB740 along with the Children’s Advocacy Institute. This bill is authored by Assembly member McCarty and based on Wood’s research. AB 740 would require school officials to contact a foster child’s court appointed attorney and social worker prior to suspensions. Wood also serves as an advisory board member for Promises2Kids, a non-profit organization that provides over 3,000 current and former foster youth in San Diego County with the tools, opportunities, and guidance they need to grow into healthy, happy and successful adults. His passion for foster children and youth is informed by his own experience as a former foster child and transracial adoptee who was raised in a large foster home.

Dr. Wood is a former recipient of the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from which he served as research fellow at the Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research (SIHER), Stanford University. Wood received his PhD in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies with an emphasis in Higher Education and master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education from Arizona State University (ASU). He also holds a master’s degree in Higher Education Leadership with a concentration in Student Affairs and a bachelor’s degree in Black History and Politics from California State University, Sacramento. Luke is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. He is a father of three children and husband to Dr. Idara Essien.

George W. Tinsley, Sr.

George Tinsley

GEORGE'S STORY: “Faith, tenacity, education, and a white-hot desire to turn obstacles to opportunities.``

The summarization of George Tinsley, Sr.’s continued road to success could liken to that of a rags-to-riches story. But faith, tenacity, education and the white-heat desire to not accept settling or complacency are the true gifts that catapulted his life to where it is today.

Born George Penebaker (1946), Tinsley grew up in Smoketown, an inner-city neighborhood one mile southeast of downtown Louisville, Kentucky.

While Tinsley’s single mother worked, he was cared for by an elderly woman, Willie Tinsley. At the time, Tinsley said, Willie Tinsley was about 60 years old. During the 40s, she and her husband had been business people in the Louisville area, but because of the depression, “they lost everything”. “She had one leg and walked on a crutch. After her husband passed away, she relocated to another area [Smoketown] in which she could afford to live.” One day, after spending the day with Willie Tinsley, his mother did not return. He was 7 months old and Willie Tinsley took him in and raised him in her home; “a one-room place; with a kitchenette, that was no bigger than 8’x10’.

One day, after spending the day with Willie Tinsley, his mother did not return. He was 7 months old.

When Tinsley was 13, Willie Tinsley died, and he was taken in by her son, Clarence Tinsley, and his wife.

At that time, Tinsley’s self-esteem and confidence level was low. He said that he was an average student because “I really didn’t apply myself. I had nowhere to do homework and was not motivated. No one wanted to see my report card.” Tinsley added that he could not remember a time when anyone questioned him about a C, D of F.  “But it was not cool to be an A student or to be at the top,” he said. “You were a square, and picked on. So early on, I was probably considered more of a clown. I wanted to be a part of the in-crowd.”  However, Tinsley’s athletic skills and height began to open doors for relationships within his neighborhood and his school. He was playing basketball, football and running track on several teams.

The teachers and coaches began to take a great interest in Tinsley from the standpoint of his athleticism. “They knew a little bit about my circumstances,” he said.

Tinsley’s reputation for having a big smile and great personality opened doors in the late 50s and early 60s. “Some adults in the neighborhood and a few of my teachers took active interest in guiding me,” he said.

Tinsley’s athletic skills and height began to open doors for relationships within his neighborhood and his school.

An average student and above average athlete, Tinsley, who graduated high school in 1965, received a number of basketball and track scholarship offers. He accepted the basketball scholarship to Kentucky Wesleyan College, a small NCAA division II school in Owensboro, Kentucky. That first year, Wesleyan won the national basketball championship. “We had very successful program where we won three national championships in four years.

“When you win a national championship as a freshman and you are a starter, you have some nice things happen to you,” he continued. “The pictures in the paper, the parades, speaking engagements; you suddenly feel a lot better about yourself and my confidence grew.”

“The whole picture changed.” Tinsley’s participation in college athletics offered unexpected rewards. He had the opportunity to experience traveling throughout Europe and Africa, with his team, to act as ambassadors, to teach basketball and interact with state departments in other areas.

“Graduating from college, playing in the ABA, marrying Seretha, and finding my family are major life markers.``

It was during his fourth year at Wesleyan that Tinsley began to excel in academics and increase his involvement in the school. He began to work harder, to try harder.

“I joined a fraternity and made the dean’s list. I started to date my future wife, Seretha.”

All of those things, he said, “made me want to be more and more successful, both academically and from a college community standpoint.”

“I also had to face my personal situation and become formally adopted into the Tinsley family. At the same time, I had to face the idea that I did have another family out there.” At age 27, Tinsley found his mother, father, and 17 brothers and sisters. “That was a defining moment,” he said.

“Graduating from college [1969], playing in the ABA, marrying Seretha and finding my family. These, Tinsley said, “are major life markers that shaped his future.

Today, Tinsley leads PenGeo, Inc. and Tinsley Family Concessions, Inc. which own and/or operate over sixty (60) restaurants in Florida and Kentucky.

He has received two honorary doctorates, had his Ky. Wesleyan College basketball jersey retired, and has been inducted in several athletic and business hall of fames. He has received a plethora of awards and recognitions, and has been featured in local and national media numerous times. He is a highly sought-after motivational speaker, coach and consultant. Tinsley and his wife reside in Winter Haven, Florida and have two adult children, George, II. and Penni.

https://tinsleyspeaks.com/about-george/