Melinda Weekes-Laidlow a social change architect with decades’ long experience building the collaborative capacity of individuals, organizations and networks towards more effective, inclusive and systemic social change. This year, Melinda launched Beautiful Ventures, a creative social enterprise that seeks to shift and uplift perceptions of people of African descent through inclusive, popular culture storytelling.

Through her consulting firm, Weekes In Advance Enterprises, Melinda has worked with leading institutions such as Columbia University, Grantmakers In the Arts, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Alliance for Media Arts and Culture. She is a graduate Professor of Management at Marlboro College and an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Melinda also served as Managing Director at Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation and in 2015, Echoing Green named her it’s first-ever Social Entrepreneur in Residence. A native New Yorker who flows between the Big Apple and the Big Peach, Melinda holds degrees from Wesleyan University, New York University School of Law and Harvard University.