Speaker From

United States


San Francisco

State | County | Province


Speaker Bio

Melinda Briana Epler has over 25 years of experience developing business innovation and inclusion strategies for startups, Fortune 500 companies, and global NGOs.

As CEO of Change Catalyst, Melinda currently works with the tech industry to solve diversity and inclusion together. Using her background in storytelling and large-scale culture change,

She is a strategic advisor for tech companies, tech hubs, and governments around the world.

Melinda co-leads a series of global solutions-focused conferences called Tech Inclusion, where she has partnered with over 450 tech companies and community organizations and hosted 43 solutions-focused diversity and inclusion events around the world.

Previously, Melinda was a Marketing and Culture Executive and award-winning documentary filmmaker – her film and television work includes projects that exposed the AIDS crisis in South Africa, explored women’s rights in Turkey, and prepared communities for the effects of climate change.

She has worked on several television shows, including NBC’s The West Wing.

Melinda is a TED speaker. She speaks, mentors and writes about diversity and inclusion in tech, allyship, social entrepreneurship, underrepresented entrepreneurs and investing.

Spoken on hundreds of stages around the world, including SXSW, Grace Hopper, Wisdom 2.0, the World Bank, Obama White House, Clinton Foundation, Black Enterprise, Google, Indeed, Capital One and McKinsey.

Keynote Topic #1

Leading with Empathy & Allyship Workshop

Based on Melinda’s popular TED talk, this workshop provides actionable steps anyone can take to be a better ally and advocate for underrepresented people in the workplace. A roadmap for all of us to lead with empathy and become better allies for each other.

In order to build empathy and understanding, we discuss some experiences colleagues might be going through, such as tokenism, impostor syndrome, stereotype threat, biases, microaggressions, harassment, bullying, marginalization and systemic inequities.

Then we’ll focus on solutions: learning ways to avoid unintentionally offending or harming people, identifying key biases and microaggressions and their effects, developing a deeper understanding of allyship and empathy, hearing several examples of allyship and advocacy, and committing to tangible, actionable steps to be a better ally and advocate for underrepresented people in the workplace.

During this interactive workshop, participants work through our Allyship Canvas, a practical guide for anyone to apply the concepts of allyship and develop their own plan for becoming a better ally. By the end of the session, attendees commit to one another to take specific actions. For people of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions, ages, disabilities, and other identities.

We’ll customize this training with you to ensure we’re achieving your desired outcomes, work with you on a communications plan, debrief with you following each training, and recommend ways to continue engaging the team around this topic.

Two hour session.


Leading with Empathy and Allyship for Executive Teams: Created specifically for executives, this highly interactive session creates a safe space for executives to learn to lead with greater empathy and allyship for underrepresented people across the organization.

We’ll also discuss accountability, and creating new norms across the culture that invite allyship and continuous growth. Prior to the training, we’ll work with you and the executive team to better understand the specific needs and objectives for this session, through conversations and a brief survey.

Leading with Empathy and Allyship in a Virtual Work Environment: This session addresses the foundations of empathy and allyship similar to Leading with Empathy and Allyship, but centers specifically on the current virtual work environment.

We’ll talk through some of the unique challenges underrepresented people face during these unprecedented times, and how each of us can better lead with empathy and allyship right now.

Keynote Topic #2

Building Inclusive Teams

In this session, we work with team managers, executives or groups to create more inclusive teams. We discuss methods for creating welcoming team environments; building psychological safety; engaging colleagues through opportunities, processes and programs; retaining team members through transparency and authenticity, growth opportunities, and pathways for professional development; and creating a culture where everyone is valued for their unique experience and expertise and feels they belong.

We walk through some key inclusive leadership skills, share best practices for modeling DEI for your team, as well as strategies for holding individuals accountable for building an inclusive team together, and we leave time to work through questions and troubleshoot key blockers for leaders.

Throughout this session, participants will have a worksheet where they will begin to develop their Inclusive Team Roadmap. Participants will start to work through what path they might take with their team to create a culture of inclusion and allyship.

At the end of this session, leaders will have a rough roadmap for building inclusion across their teams, with tangible next steps outlined.


For managers, executives, or entire teams.

Two-hour session.

Keynote Topic #3

Activating Allies Workshop

Created for employee resource groups, Diversity and Inclusion Advocates, executives, managers and other internal advocates to learn how to build more allies and advocates across the organization.

This is a highly interactive workshop where attendees (individuals and teams) work through a roadmap for building allies.

We walk through the Stages of Allyship, so that leaders can identify where individuals might be on their allyship journey.

We discuss ideal programs or interventions that are appropriate at each stage of allyship. We also spend a bit of time discussing organizational and behavior change principles, so leaders are equipped with a foundation for understanding of how organizational change happens.

Using an Activating Allies Canvas, participants work in small groups to design a plan for supporting allies at different Stages of Allyship, and help move them to the next stage.

They begin to work through the first steps of enacting their plan together: from the activities they might launch, resources they’ll need, ways they’ll build influence and community, communications channels, and more.

At the end of this session, leaders have a rough roadmap for cultivating allies across their team, organization, or group, with tangible next steps clearly outlined.

We’ll customize this training with you to ensure we’re achieving your desired outcomes, work with you on communications plan, debrief with you following each training, and recommend ways to continue engaging the team around this topic.

Two-hour session.

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