With centuries of racist policies and social structures, the persistent racial wealth gap in the United States is a burden on blacks and the overall economy. Studies have shown that closing the racial wealth gap increases the economic health for all Americans and can substantially increase the US GDP within a few years. Yet, our black communities face extreme challenges in being financially secure. Our panel of experts and leaders around this issue will help you understand the scope of the problem for black families and businesses. This session will also discuss strategies that can help alleviate race-based inequities in our economy in the long-term.
Felicia Wells-Thomas is the Community Liaison Manager at Micro Enterprise Services of OR, N/NE Navigator. As a longtime N/NE resident she is familiar with the needs of people MESO serves. Felicia graduated with a Supply & Logistics/Business Management degree in 2008. She has worked at MESO since 2011. She is passionate about providing individuals and families’ opportunities to be/become self-reliant. MESO provides business skills, resources and flexible capital to empower the disenchanted, and make it possible for them to dream again. Felicia believes that “Everything is possible”, is the mantra we practice and bring to our work on a daily basis.”
Stephen Green is a “recovering” banker and VC who has spent his career in finance and operations. He is the COO at A Kids Book About, a Portland based kids media company. When not working or spending time with his family in NE Portland, he is serving the community on a number of boards including Self Enhancement Inc (SEI), the Oregon Growth Board and is board chair of Built Oregon. You can also see him as a speaker on TEDxPortland.
Eric Richardson is Executive Director at Eugene/Springfield NAACP. Working to facilitate conversations on identity and cultural inclusion has led him to work with the local branch of the NAACP. Over the past decade, Eric has developed a strong cultural presence and initiated the NAACP’s new engagement with the historic Mims property. Highlights of Eric’s activities include his work as Multicultural Program Coordinator for Lane Community College, Early Board member/musician at the Jazz Station, and founder of the Invisible Arts Project. Eric has served on numerous boards as a leader who articulates the cultural needs of Lane’s diverse population, and currently sits on the boards of the United Way of Lane County, and Habitat for Humanity Oregon.