Meet the 2022 Champions of Change | Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader of the Year Nominees

2022 Champions of Change Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader of the Year Nominees

Agatha Agbanobi M.Ed
Founder & Principle
Optimal Leadership

Agatha Agbanobi is the founder and principal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant of a minority- and women-owned consulting firm, Optimal Leadership LLC. Agatha has over a decade of experience leading and supporting equity reform initiatives in the technology, media, education and non-profit space. She brings a diverse skill set in organizational change, equity reform project management and strategic planning, data analytics and management, instructional design and workforce training and development in the public and private sector. Her clients span fortune 500 companies, government agencies, higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations. As a DEI consultant and leadership coach in education, technology, media and non-profit industry, she continues to drive impactful reform initiatives that will lead to transformational diversity, equity and inclusion in workplaces across the U.S. She leans heavily on her background in research, writing and education/training background to guide clients towards the equity-based changes required for their unique workforce and culture.

BiNi Coleman
African American Leadership Institute

BiNi Coleman has over 28 years consulting and developing highly effective programs, systems and organizations to benefit the community — efforts which have been recognized and studied by agencies such as Texas State University at San Marcos, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, SEDL, the Texas Education Agency, Texas Department of Transportation, US Department of Education, and Colin and Alma Powell’s America’s Promise Alliance. One recent example has been the launch of the African American Leadership Institute (AALI), which is designed to enhance civic awareness and leadership opportunities to make an innovative community impact on Central Texas. As her work has received increased attention, she has received the following recognitions in 2021: • the Outstanding Leadership Award by the Austin NAACP • Named a "Top Ten" Central Texas Diversity Champion by the Austin Black Business Journal & Community News • Nominated for Best CEO Award in the nonprofit category by the Austin Business Journal • Featured in VoyageAustin "Hidden Gems" series, covering "Local Businesses and Creatives You Should Know" Many moons ago, BiNi was a member of the University of Texas Women’s Volleyball team, and beyond her work, she is a happy wife and mother living in amazement of her beautiful 6-year-old daughter.

Gloria Gonzales Dholakia Ph.D,
Executive Director
Jolt Action

Dr. Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia is an educational and political leader in the Central Texas community, a Leander ISD school board trustee and the Executive Director of Jolt Initiative and Jolt Action, the largest Latino civic engagement organizations in Texas. As a first-generation to college Tejana, Dr. Gonzales-Dholakia graduated from Baylor University and went on to pursue her passion for educational equity and underrepresented communities, earning a Doctorate in Education from the University of Texas at Austin. Gloria is the first Latina to serve on the Board of Trustees of Leander ISD. Gloria's passion and commitment to support BIPOC is evident in her work as a school trustee, including leading the charge for a more inclusive dress code and serving on the DEI district-wide committee that championed a district DEI policy and new dedicated DEI position. While continuing to develop her leadership skills as a foundation leader, she is most proud of launching a diversity scholarship program aimed at addressing nationwide systemic racism and ultimately creating a more inclusive space in this profession. Most recently, Gloria was appointed Executive Director of Jolt, which empowers the voice, issues, and vote of young Latinos across the state of Texas. Gloria remains active in the community as a civic leader for multiple Texas State House Districts, the City of Austin, and Texas Public Schools. She is an active member of area business chamber organizations, and in all of these roles, her focus is on representation and inclusion of Latinos and other historically marginalized people.

Mando Rayo
The New Philanthropists & United Tacos of America

Mando Rayo’s experience is deep-rooted in over 20 years of uplifting and recognizing Latinx & BIPOC communities. As co-founder of The New Philanthropists (TNP), a nonprofit that works to create a more inclusive and equitable nonprofit sector, Mando takes on the necessary work that leads to sustainable and systemic change. Alongside Paulina Artieda, Executive Director of TNP, Mando is invested in creating cultural shifts on nonprofit boards that lead to authentic representation, and in helping organizations develop inclusion strategies at the leadership level. Since its launch, TNP has identified over 570 board prospects of color, matched 21 board members of color to nonprofits in Austin, matched 30 mentors with 146 mentees of color, hosted 19 equity workshops with 176 participants and currently is working with over 40 nonprofits on their DEI Journey. Mando's inclusive leadership goes beyond TNP's mission as he is also a digital story-teller, producer and partner for IDENTITY Network. This project is ignited by his upbringing in Texas as a Mexican-American and how he can inspire and build bridges through the showcasing of untold stories and experiences of communities of color. Lastly, but never to be forgotten, Mando also serves as the "Taco Journalist," producer and author of books & shows including: The Tacos of Texas book, PBS docu-series and KUT Podcast and the United Tacos of America TV Show on El Rey Network.

Heather Venard
Director of Social Impact & Sustainability

For the past ten years, Heather Venard has focused on growing and scaling social impact programs in Austin and around the world through an equity-centered approach. She partners with internal and external partners, from DEI teams to nonprofit community leaders, on a daily basis to get feedback and make adjustments so programs truly serve their intended communities. These collaborative efforts include the creation of a DEI based ERG (employee resource group) toolkit for the Austin community, a record number of Code2College minority and low-income high school interns hired at Silicon Labs, and skills-based volunteering opportunities, including board service, for a diverse group of professionals to understand and engage with issues impacting our communities. Heather recently joined Bumble to lead social impact, sustainability, and ESG efforts, and will use that same focus to drive the mission of creating a world where all relationships are healthy and equitable. In addition to past roles at Silicon Labs and AMD, she has served on multiple nonprofit boards, currently with Philanthropitch and Creative Action, and is a chair of the Austin LGBT Chamber’s ERG committee. Heather is a proud graduate of the Leadership Austin Emerge Class of 2016.

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