Commencement Speaker to Share Inspirational Tale
The keynote speech for the 117th Commencement on May 16 will surely resonate when delivered by Steve Pemberton, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion and Global Chief Diversity Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, the first global pharmacy-led, health and well-being enterprise in the world, employing 370,000 people in 25 countries.
Pemberton’s rise was a long journey that has brought him recognition as one of the country’s leading authorities on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, being named by Fortune Magazine as one of the Top 20 Chief Diversity Officers in corporate America, and as one of the Top 100 most influential African-Americans in corporate America by Savoy in 2008.
A ward of the state for much of his childhood, Pemberton has made opportunity, access and equality, pillars of his personal and professional life, which he captures in his book; “A Chance In The World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home.” This riveting memoir chronicles his difficult path through foster care and his determined search for his family. His relentless journey to overcome, find his biological family, and right the wrongs of his parents’ past, has served as a model for many families to follow. His powerful story has been featured in People Magazine, The Bay State Banner, The Boston Herald, Crain’s Chicago Business, Chronicle News Magazine, and multiple news networks across the country.
His dedication to public service and personal and professional achievement have also earned him Honorary Doctorates from Winston-Salem State University (2014) and Boston College (2015). In 2015, Pemberton was awarded the prestigious Horizon Award by the United States Congress, presented to individuals from the private sector who have contributed to expanding opportunities for all Americans through their own personal contributions, and who have set exceptional examples for young people through their successes in life. A graduate of Boston College, he is a Bostonian by birth and a Chicagoan by choice.
Pemberton’s tireless advocacy for the disenfranchised has earned him national recognition including The Trumpet Foundation and the Steve & Margery Harvey Helping Hand Award.
Pemberton currently serves on several boards including The Home for Little Wanderers and UCAN to provide guidance and inspiration to children in need. The Pemberton Fund for the Future has been established in his name at The Home for Little Wanderers to assist children aging out of the foster care system.
Pemberton and his wife Tonya are the proud parents of three children.
In addition to speaking honors, he will be presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Also being recognized at Commencement will be:
Bishop Joe Morris Doss, Founding President of At the Threshold, New Orleans, LA
Whether through his calling as a parish priest, an author, a dramatist or playwright, the Right Reverend Joe Morris Doss has found his life’s work as a champion for justice.
An attorney with a background in civil rights, Bishop Doss enjoys a national reputation primarily as an advocate for justice, in particular as a champion of minorities, women, and children. Bishop Doss is also granted special recognition in the church as a liturgist, ecumenist, and leader for church reform.
His long list of accomplishments includes work as the founding president of Death Penalty Focus, the nation’s largest abolitionist organization, as the founding chair of the National Center for AIDS in San Francisco, and as the organizer of an adventurous and famous rescue mission to Cuba that freed thousands of people, most of them pardoned political prisoners.
His groundbreaking work in Cuba led to a Federal felony conviction, followed by exoneration on grounds that there was no criminal intent and there was prosecutorial misuse of the Constitution, which was an attempt to use the 1917 war powers act to regulate immigration. Bishop Doss famously served as co-counsel in the death penalty appeals of Earnest Knighton, Jr., who was executed on October 30, 1984.
Bishop Doss holds a Doctor of Divinity and Master of Divinity Degree, a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Arts. He has a grown son and daughter and lives with his wife Susan in New Orleans. His organization, At the Threshold is an ecumenical and international organization formed to foster reform of the Christian Church and prepare the ecumenical reformation to come.
The most “professional” satisfaction for Bishop Doss is found in his skills as a parish priest. Bishop Doss also considers himself a dancer (still) and usually orders “old fashions” or “sazeracs.”
Jody Rose, Executive Director of the New England Venture Capital Association
Jody Rose is focused on positioning Massachusetts as the best place in the world for entrepreneurs, working on initiatives in partnership with the venture and entrepreneurial communities. Jody has held executive-level roles with both enterprise corporations and lean startups, focusing primarily on corporate development in mobile, eCommerce and digital media.
Most recently, she served as the Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Digital Strategy at the agency Blueprint NYC, an event production company in Manhattan. She also led the National Mobile and Brand Partnerships for micro-location mobile marketing platform, Swirl Networks.
Born in Brooklyn, Rose began her career in cable and telecommunications, where she held multiple sales and marketing positions, and quickly rose through the ranks at powerhouses such as MTV Networks, The Food Network, and HGTV. Before joining Swirl, Rose served as Director of National Brand Partnerships at Rue La La where she was responsible for leading brand relationships with a focus on driving new customer acquisition for national partners. She was one of four employees selected to launch a new division of Rue La La (Rue Local) and was responsible for leading the launch of their first local market.
During her spare time Jody enjoys volunteering, snowboarding, traveling, cooking and – most importantly – spending time with her family.