This year, the commencement speaker will be Mr. Steve Pemberton, noted business leader and child advocate.
A ward of the state for much of his childhood, Steve Pemberton has made opportunity, access, and equality pillars of his personal and professional life. One of America's most inspiring executives, he is recognized as a leader on matters of diversity and inclusion and their importance to the growth of the American industrial complex.
Pemberton is chief diversity officer and divisional vice president for Walgreens, the first such person to hold that responsibility in the company’s 110-year history. As such, he directs activities to help serve diverse markets and populations, including customers in medically underserved areas, food deserts, and urban areas, as well as strengthens relationships with diverse suppliers and communities.
His memoir, A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home, chronicles his difficult path through foster care and his determined search for his family. It is an inspirational story that crosses generations and cultures, but specifically whispers to those who have had the odds stacked against them. Pemberton’s relentless journey to overcome his setbacks, find his biological family, and right the wrongs of his parents' past is a model for all families to follow. It is a true testament of faith, fortitude, and forgiveness.
Whether sharing the story of how he found his identity or tips on how to create diversity within your organization, Steve Pemberton is a riveting speaker who never fails to inspire his audiences.
In 2006, Fortune named him one of "the top 20 chief diversity officers in corporate America." In 2007, Pemberton was called to Capitol Hill to provide testimony on best practices in diversity recruiting, and in 2008 he was named by Savoy as one of "the top 100 most influential African Americans in corporate America."
Under Pemberton's leadership at Monster, revenues grew 60% while seeing commensurate levels of performance in managerial profit and customer satisfaction. During that same time, Monster grew to possess one of the most diverse audiences on the internet which it in turn revolutionized the way corporate America recruits and retains diverse talent.
Pemberton currently serves on several boards including The Home for Little Wanderers and UCAN to provide guidance and inspiration to children in need. The Pemberton Fund for the Future has been established at The Home for Little Wanderers to assist children aging out of the foster care system.