Elevate Conference

Connecting The Black Business Community

April 5-6, 2019



David Simas

CEO of The Obama Foundation

David Simas is the Chief Executive Officer of the Obama Foundation. A native of Taunton, Massachusetts, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick in 2007. Simas then joined President Obama’s administration in 2009 as a Deputy Assistant to the President, working with senior advisors David Axelrod and David Plouffe. In 2012, he served as Director of Opinion Research for President Obama’s reelection campaign. Following the reelection, Simas returned to the White House as Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. Simas holds a B.A. in political science from Stonehill College and a J.D. from Boston College Law School. He serves on the national board of directors of OneGoal and lives in Chicago with his wife, Shauna, and their two daughters.


Katherine Phillips (Moderator)

Columbia Business School Professor & Director of the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics

Professor Katherine W. Phillips is the Reuben Mark Professor of Organizational Character and the Director of the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics. Before joining Columbia, she was Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and Co-Director and Founder of Northwestern's Center on the Science of Diversity. She has also been a Visiting Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Visiting Scholar at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences. Professor Phillips received her PhD in Organizational Behavior from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. Her Bachelors degree is in Psychology from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Professor Phillips’ research dives into questions surrounding the value of diversity and the barriers that prevent society, organizations, and especially work teams from capturing the knowledge, perspectives and unique backgrounds of every member. Professor Phillips is the recipient of numerous professional awards, and teaches topics including leadership, managing teams, decision making, negotiation, organizational change and motivation. Her research has been featured in numerous media outlets including the Chicago Tribune, Time Magazine.com, Fortune.com, Working Women, The Globe and Mail, and The Mint.

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