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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Diversity, Inclusion + Equity Awards: FINALISTS


Mei-Lon Jimenez and Toni Jimenez
Co-Founders & CEOs
Chica Beauty

Sisters Mei-Lon and Toni Jimenez co-founded their business, Chica Beauty, because they wanted to revolutionize the beauty industry with a brand that screams diversity and inclusion – something that they found was missing in the beauty industry’s current environment. The two also started Chica Beauty with the mission in mind to create a beauty brand with a mission to empower girls to be confident in their most authentic selves and giving back fiscally to the community with their Chica Gives program, which partners with nonprofits like Girls Inc. and donates to them with every purchase made from Chica Beauty. Plus, the Chica Beauty team, who come from different countries and were raised with different cultures and backgrounds, are proud of their different ethnicities, and bring knowledge from different generations starting as young as current high school students and ranging all the way to Toni’s and Mei-Lon’s grandmother, who inspired many aspects of the brand.

George Pla
Founder & CEO
Cordoba Corporation

George L. Pla believes the path forward to ensure for diversity and inclusion is a commitment to developing our human capital through education and training. This means investing in all levels of education and understanding that every child – regardless of his or her background – deserves a chance. Pla emigrated from Mexico at the age of five and grew up in East Los Angeles. The community college system was a viable option Pla, who could not afford to attend a four-year university out of high school, but was willing to put in the work. He later went on to work for Governor Jerry Brown in his first administration and then launched Cordoba Corporation. When he started Cordoba in 1983, PLA knew that he wanted to develop a culture embracing diversity and inclusion. As of December 2020, 64% of Cordoba Corporation’s workforce is of diverse backgrounds. Our Executive Committee is 50% women and 50% men.

Sara Terheggen
Founder & CEO
The NBD Group, Inc.

Dr. Sara Terheggen grew up in poverty and was the first in her family to go to college. Despite significant obstacles, she went on to receive a Ph.D. from Penn State and a J.D. from Berkeley. She has advised clients on over $100 billion in corporate transactions, making her one of the most decorated corporate advisors of her time. In 2018, Dr. Terheggen left her role as an equity partner for a top law firm and founded a legal and business solutions professional corporation, The NBD Group. The mission of NBD is to disrupt the industry by bringing to bear a new paradigm that focuses on client service and advancing equality.  Not only is the founder and CEO a woman, but NBD has instituted transparent policies regarding promotion and pay, and has established policies and governance that help women and minorities rise up instead of cycle out.

Tina Bohn
Associate Director and Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Initiatives Lead

Tina Bohn is the Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Initiatives lead for global consulting firm Protiviti. Based in its Los Angeles office, she is also an associate director with Protiviti’s Technology Consulting practice. Bohn’s position as Global DEI Strategic Initiatives lead developed out of her role since 2016 as Protiviti Los Angeles’ local DEI champion. Alongside her technology consulting responsibilities, for three years she was the point of liaison between the L.A. office DEI committee and the firm’s global DEI council on key initiatives. She led and managed the local budget for all DEI-related activities, including workshops, trainings and internal panel events. Since 2017, Bohn has also been and continues to be the local Protiviti champion for two of the firm’s employee networking groups: proPRIDE and GET IT (Gender Equality in Technology and IT), both of which seek to actively promote diversity, equity and inclusion in all the firm’s activities.

Desert Horse-Grant
Chief of Innovation at UCLA Hospital System, Senior Director of UCLA Health Research and Innovation, and Co-Executive Director of UCLA Biodesign
UCLA Health

Desert Horse-Grant, chief of innovation at UCLA Hospital System, senior director of UCLA Health research and innovation, and co-executive director of UCLA Biodesign, is the only female, underrepresented minority on the senior-most executive leadership team. During her career, she worked her way up from an entry-level employee to being a national leader, and her primary role today is directing research and innovation across the UCLA Health system. She credits her success to those who would take a chance on her, give her access to opportunities, trust her to do the hard work, provide her the mentoring, and let her prove she could be successful at each new challenge. Deeply rooted in cultural humility, she believes in the power of pipeline exposure opportunities, and, importantly, she believes in paying it forward. Horse-Grant has been tireless in her efforts to excel and to help others follow, dedicating her career to opening doors for those historically excluded.

Michael Ormonde
Los Angeles Region Bank President
Wells Fargo

Michael Ormonde serves as Wells Fargo’s Los Angeles Region bank president, overseeing 1,100 employees. As a financial industry leader, corporate citizen and son of immigrants, he is committed to driving an inclusive culture. His parents instilled in him a strong pride in his Portuguese roots, while celebrating American culture. That fervor for diversity is something he brings to work every day, ensuring his team is representative of the communities Wells Fargo serves – especially the ethnic diversity that makes up the vibrant City of Angels – and encouraging them to show up as their best selves and reach their full potential. His overall value of diversity comes from shared experiences. Throughout Ormonde’s career at Wells Fargo, he has also been a strong advocate for team member development and mentorship. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and is a member of the executive and CEO search committees.

Via Van Liew
Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The Aerospace Corporation

Via Van Liew is the director of diversity, equity and inclusion at The Aerospace Corporation, which is based in El Segundo.  Aerospace is a non-profit organization focused on the national security space. It has $1 billion in annual revenue and more than 4,000 employees nationwide. Aerospace believes its people are its greatest resource, as the company relies on the brightest and most skilled individuals in the aerospace and engineering industry to confront highly complex problems in space.  These challenges demand that Aerospace recruit, employ, and retain a diverse workforce with rich backgrounds and perspectives that generate the best solutions. Van Liew has led a comprehensive effort to develop and implement diversity, equity and inclusive initiatives that create distinct and measurable impact, and are scalable throughout the national company. She leads the company’s numerous campaigns to expand and implement this commitment.  

Lilly Acuna
Environmental Planner
HNTB Corporation

Since receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in 1995 from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in business administration/finance, Lilly Acuña has been making an impact in communities around the globe. Currently, she serves as an environmental planner and professional development/office engagement manager for HNTB Corporation in the firm’s Los Angeles office, a position she has held since 2018. Her job duties include coordinating activities to facilitate employee engagement at HNTB and develop volunteer involvement and inclusion opportunities in the greater Los Angeles community. Acuña’s enthusiasm and leadership in volunteerism, diversity and inclusion mobilized her HNTB team members and increased the rate of engagement, volunteerism, and outreach among the firm’s professionals. Among her many projects, Acuña initiated the development of a robust mentorship program for the Los Angeles office, intended to develop the HNTB community professionally, promote goal setting and career planning, provide opportunities for networking, and create a prepared diverse workforce.

Reann Gonzales
Executive Assistant to CEO & Board Liaison, Innovation & Excellence Steering Committee, Chair  Sponsor, USHS Diversity Network
Union Station Homeless Services

Reann Gonzales has spearheaded the creation of and is leading the charge for the Diversity Network at Union Station Homeless Services. The Diversity Network promotes acceptance, respect, teamwork and fosters diversity in the workplace.  Through this network, the staff can communicate, educate, and express diverse cultivation through seven networks with the support of the Executive Staff and Board of Directors. Gonzales has encouraged and mentored staff to step up and serve as chairs and co-chairs of the seven networks. In addition to their regular jobs helping to serve the homeless population of the San Gabriel Valley, these staff members are also dedicated to findings creative ways to ways to share, educate, celebrate the diversity that makes the organization uniquely USHS.  The Diversity Network believes every individual has a story, past, and a unique set of skills and through this network, everyone can learn from each other to become better versions of themselves.

Jonathan Hodge
Financial  Advisor and Senior Portfolio Manager
UBS Wealth Management USA

Jonathan Hodge has been helping clients manage their capital for over two decades, guiding them to make the right choices for themselves and their legacies. His work with Black entrepreneurs and families has made him realize how limited the finance industry has been in the resources they bring to the Black community. He also witnessed first-hand how his grandfather’s legacy was mismanaged, which resulted in the hotel property and land he owned in St. Martin being neglected and left in a state of uncertainty. Realizing that his grandfather’s legacy could have been preserved through better communication and documentation, he was inspired to help others and has dedicated his work to building generational wealth within the Black community. Hodge encourages Black business owners to maintain a generational wealth building mindset, supporting the Black community through education, planning, and advice.  He also stresses the importance of communication, planning and networking within the Black community.

Teresa Maxwell
DBE Compliance Manager
Skanska USA Inc.

Creating a culture of inclusion is at the heart of Skanska’s business approach, and no one embodies that better than Teresa Maxwell, DBE compliance and outreach manager. Maxwell makes sure that the company not only delivers world-class projects, but also provides opportunities for businesses and the workforce in those communities. To date, she has helped provide 327 contracts totaling more than $488 million to local DBE/MBE/WBE/DVBE firms over the last five years.  In addition, she’s coordinated Skanska’s craft hiring efforts resulting in more than 915,000 apprenticeship hours, 665,000 disadvantaged minority hours and 251,000 women craft hours over the past five years on Los Angeles region transit, roadway, aviation, and infrastructure projects. Maxwell’s efforts continue to build Skanska’s legacy of positive economic impact. A community outreach and small business champion, Maxwell is deeply committed to fostering an inclusive, diverse and equitable environment where there is mutual respect throughout the entire project team.


Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

As the nation’s largest municipal utility, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion begins, in large part, with creating and maintaining a diverse organization where diversity, equity, and inclusion are part of the culture and central to policy making decisions.  In June of last year, Mayor Garcetti’s Executive Directive No. 27 called on all city departments to create a Racial Equity Action Plan.  LADWP chose to take an even deeper dive by hiring three local minority firms to create and provide direction on the report as well as hire a chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer.  Management. moved swiftly to make sure executives, middle managers, and supervisors were available and accessible for a top-to-bottom analysis on the department’s practices.  LADWP has now identified short and long terms goals for workforce development, supplier diversity, economic development and community investment, and the Equal Employment Opportunity office.  

Marathon Petroleum Corporation

Marathon Petroleum Company (MPC) is committed to being a company where all of its people can maximize their full potential and seek the career opportunities they desire, and they know this only happens when employees, contractors and other stakeholders feel valued for their diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. This was the challenge to welcome new ideas, invest in their people, and work to foster a collaborative, inclusive team environment. To address this, the company created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Office which leads the company’s Diversity Strategy, which is built on three pillars: Building Awareness, Increasing Representation and Ensuring Success. MPC is making strides in each of these areas across their company, including its Los Angeles Refining Division. As part of fostering an inclusive and collaborative work environment, MPC regularly hosts Diversity, Inclusion & Equity workshops and employee panels. They also conduct community outreach and participate in community-led diversity celebrations and educational events.  

The Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas)

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) is the nation’s largest natural gas distribution utility. It is a values-led organization and has been focused on diversity and inclusion for many years. SoCalGas embraces a diverse culture, moving beyond compliance and EEO requirements in a focused, strident effort for systemic change in social justice and cultural diversity. As everyone was challenged in 2020, the SoCalGas family came together and responded and has made positive impacts. SoCalGas is committed to ensuring every employee feels a sense of inclusion and belonging in the workplace. SoCalGas in 2020 established the Executive Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It provides direction, oversight, and support for the company’s Equity Action Plan, which focuses on the company’s efforts in the Black community, gender equality, closing the digital divide, paving the way for future careers, supporting the economic stability of our communities, and more.


GoodRx is a mission-driven company through and through, rallying around the shared goal of making healthcare more affordable and accessible for all. Over the course of the past year, the company has placed an increased emphasis on ensuring that GoodRx products and services are more inclusive so that all Americans can receive the quality of care they deserve. In 2020, GoodRx conducted a virtual company-wide diversity hackathon, bringing together employees across all departments to ideate on new ways to solve for racial and economic inequities in healthcare. This sparked valuable discussion among employees and many suggestions for refining GoodRx services – including a GoodRx Spanish homepage that launched earlier this year – as well as a new cross-functional task force dedicated to carrying out the ideas stemming from the hackathon. GoodRx has also prioritized implementing new diversity and inclusion initiatives for its own employees.

Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman began its US-based initiative, ‘Building the Best Culture,’ in 2010 to address the aerospace and defense industry’s rapidly aging and retiring talent base by building the leadership pipeline for women and people of color. The initiative is designed around five strategic priorities: leadership commitment, hiring and recruitment, work-life integration, employee development, and building the future pipeline. Among the key components and programs are recruiting, hiring, and retention efforts that are customized by level and follow a Diverse Slate of Candidates process with diverse interviewers. Northrup Grumman also features strategic employee development programs such as the Women in Leadership Program, the Executive Leadership Program, and the Leadership Cohort Program. The company has also launched targeted efforts, such as the Inclusive Leadership Conference, to engage men in building an inclusive work culture. The company has also developed diversity and inclusion action plans within each sector.

Alston & Bird

Alston & Bird’s workplace environment has been praised as one of the most open and receptive in the United States, not only among law firms but among all businesses. The firm has been and continues to be a leader in diversity efforts. It scored 100% on the 2021 Human Rights Campaign Foundation Corporate Equality Index, and has done so for 17 consecutive years. It is one of only four law firms highlighted by Fortune as one of the “100 Best Workplaces for Diversity.” The firm is also active in furthering diversity and inclusion efforts in its community and industry. It is an active sponsor of the California Minority Counsel Program, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting diversity in the legal profession by providing attorneys of color with access and opportunity for business and professional development.

Barnes & Thornburg LLP

In 2018, Barnes & Thornburg’s BTWomen Talent Resource Group (TRG) (a cross-office attorney and staff committee formed to identify opportunities and eliminate barriers impacting the success of all the firm’s female talent), focused on raising the profile of women at the firm.  First, to elevate the profiles of its female talent, BTWomen created a Women’s History Month communication campaign called “Redefine.” Through it, 15 female teammates (who beforehand were largely under the radar) were thrust into the spotlight and asked to reflect on one of the following “power words.” Due to the success of that campaign, a signature and more broad communication campaign was launched thereafter entitled, “I Am Barnes & Thornburg” for which four teammates are featured monthly and asked to share who they are by providing a series of statements about themselves beginning with the words, “I Am.”  

Cann Social Tonics

Cann was founded by Luke Anderson and Jake Bullock, two Stanford graduates and members of the LBGTQ+ community who sought to create the ideal option for consumers looking for healthier alternatives to alcohol. From humble beginnings in Bullock’s Palo Alto garage to rapid expansion in Venice, Cann was founded on principles of inclusion and sensibility, and has created a loyal brand community that welcomes individuals from all walks of life. Cann’s mission is to change the way that people socialize by providing an alternative to alcohol that is better for the body without sacrificing an uplifting, social feeling. This mission is incompatible with prejudice, discrimination and violence. Cann also acknowledges that the cannabis industry has a diversity, inclusion and equity problem, which is why Cann is committed to using its platform to build solidarity with the Black and other marginalized communities through its hiring, choice of partners, and the communities its aligns with.

Susman Godfrey LLP

When it comes to diversity and inclusiveness, Susman Godfrey is blazing trails in the legal industry. The firm is committed to growing and maintaining diversity among its trial lawyers and has doubled down on that commitment in the past few years, putting into place policies and practices to promote inclusiveness across the entire firm. Promoting diversity is one of the firm’s core values. A perfect example supporting the firm’s belief in the power of diversity is the 2020 election of Kalpana Srinivasan as the firm’s fourth co-managing partner in the firm’s 40-year history.  She is the first woman and the first minority to serve in the position, having risen through the associate ranks at the firm. Plus, in 2021, the firm promoted its most diverse class ever – of the six lawyers promoted to partner, four are female. Los Angeles is Susman Godfrey’s most diverse office.

Five Acres

During the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020, Five Acres leadership recognized the opportunity to strategically form a committee that addresses issues of Black Lives Matter, social justice, diversity, and equity. As an agency whose focus is on the wellbeing and mental health of its clients who have experienced abuse or neglect, Five Acres strives for permanency so that all children in their care are safe and have a permanent, loving home. Serving across six counties, Five Acres’ diverse leadership is comprised of 21 females and seven males, who range in age from 30 to 69 and whose race composition is five are Asian, nine are White, 10 are Hispanic, and four are Black. The direct staff also mirrors the makeup of the agency’s diverse clients. Rehab specialists, clinicians, executive assistants, unit program coordinators, crisis intervention specialists team members, research, and supervisors across the agency and across departments expressed interest in joining this committee.


As a part of Gensler’s corporate strategies to fight racism, each of the firm’s ten regions have established a team tailoring the initiative to the specific demographics and needs of each particular region. In the Southwest, the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team is led by Nambi Gardner, the Regional Lead, alongside Brianna Seabron, Demetra Thornton, Fernando Flores, Wayne Thomas and Hung Tran – who are the local leaders and each representing different roles and studios within the office. Together, this team and their large group of volunteer partners serve as champions in strengthening the firm’s ongoing talent diversity initiatives. The team leads numerous meaningful and challenging conversations within Gensler’s global network in an effort to bring change and fight racism by focusing on these three key pillars of building a culture of empathy and equity; creating more equitable and representative design solutions; and increase talent diversity through long-term commitments to mentoring and support.


It’s been a big year for the MagicLinks’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team. Working to drive systemic change in its industry, MagicLinks hit the ground running with a largely grassroots approach. This started with connecting with a variety of leaders in the community to ensure that policies implemented across the organization drove direct and long-lasting impact. Since then, MagicLinks has launched a social media campaign to solidify our position and serve as a training resource for the team, instituted a 30% minimum diversity casting requirement amongst all sponsored campaigns, and developed innovative strategies to onboard Black-owned businesses that are too often priced out in the influencer economy. MagicLinks hosts a weekly Instagram Live series, #MLTeaTime, in which it gives the floor to BIPOC leaders to get into the real issues. The intention is to learn, grow, and evolve from these conversations and create long-lasting impact in the influencer marketing space.

Steinberg Hart

A group of passionate and dedicated employees at Steinberg Hart came  together around a common goal of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI), their passion sparked by anger and frustration surrounding the racial injustices facing their Black neighbors. This JEDI Group has met regularly over the past several months, quickly turning that anger into action. Junior designers, project managers, and partners alike from across the firm’s six US offices worked together to create a meaningful, achievable action plan, nourished by listening sessions, research, and lively discussion around our vision for a just, equitable, diverse and inclusive future for Steinberg Hart. Steinberg Hart’s JEDI Group was born of a renewed focus on the power that the team has as design professionals and community members to identify, confront, and eradicate elements of inequity and racism in their company, in design, and in the local communities.

Children’s Bureau

Children’s Bureau was founded in 1904 by Mrs. E.K. Foster, a Los Angeles community leader, and a group of volunteers who shared a concern for the plight of vulnerable children. Successfully they advocated for legislation to protect these children. Today, Children’s Bureau continues to be a trusted, innovative leader in child well-being. This innovation has proven to be a hallmark in every encounter that the organization has and none more important that advancing a culture of inclusion through building a true “Sense of Belonging” and a celebration of community diversity in every aspect.  Children’s Bureau’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee began with earnest leadership from its board of directors who felt that in a melting pot such as Los Angeles coupled with the organization’s rich heritage of doing what was right and equitable for the communities it serves, an ongoing commitment for inclusion could not be more important or relevant than now.

HUE You Know

Bree L. Frank is the founder of HUE You Know, a production resource group of color that consists of more than 14,000 members around the nation in various areas of production. Frank founded HUE You Know in February 2017 with the initial goal of sharing job resources with friends. What started as a tight-knit online community blossomed into an international initiative to include employment opportunities to people of color across all media. Within the last four years, HUE has expanded into a non-profit organization dedicated to building community, providing mentorship and fostering opportunities for BIPOC professionals in media. The organization’s mission revolves around bolstering diversity, inclusion and belonging. HUE has fostered partnerships with Staff Me Up, Nat Geo and many other organizations who are creating opportunities within diversity and inclusion. HUE You Know is creating job matching opportunities as well as workshops around inclusion for major networks and production companies.

Positive Results Center

Kandee Lewis left Corporate America in 2007, as vice president of sales for a technology company and took over a fledgling nonprofit, breathing life into the company and the community. Through the Positive Results Center, Lewis mentors youth and young adults from marginalized and disadvantaged communities, training and hiring them, providing opportunities to secure and maintain careers that provide living wages to create equitable and just opportunities. Lewis and her team work with youth, teaching them to be peer advocates, violence prevention specialists, and mental health advocates focused on creating awareness from an age and cultural perspective. The team’s knowledge of violence, abuse and trauma have proven critical when considering obstacles young students have had to face. Under Lewis’s stewardship, the Positive Results Center has worked on a local and national level to create cultures of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice related to the needs of the communities it serves.

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