February 21, 2022

Ulupreneur Tolonda Tolbert learned early on that difference is a fact of life. As human beings, we can learn to live and thrive with difference, or shrivel and perhaps even die. Her parents, raised in the South during Jim Crow, decided to move to Colorado to raise their family. There, Tolonda was often the first Black person her friends had ever met and negotiating her difference was a daily occurrence.

She had the opportunity to live abroad for many years, and her travels gave her insight into how the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are global; she likes to point out that no country is without strife due to differences. At a young age, Tolonda decided that her mission would be to help people choose inclusion so that they could reap the benefits of diversity. It fueled her passion to co-found Eskalera, an employee experience and organizational platform designed to drive high performance by boosting inclusion. She believes she was fortunate to have met the technologists who also believed in creating a level playing field for all employees and could help marry art with science to scale this mission.

Bio

Dr. Tolonda Tolbert (or Dr. T as she is affectionately called) is the Co-Founder and Head of Strategy and Culture at Eskalera. Eskalera is a people-first software solution that provides knowledge, skills, connections, and data-backed insights to build diverse, inclusive, and equitable organizational cultures. Dr. T  has been an expert in the space of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and culture change for over two decades. Prior to co-founding Eskalera, she served as Senior Director of the Inclusive Leadership Initiative for Catalyst, partnering with global organizations to build their capacity to create and sustain inclusive workplaces, and specializing in strategy development and implementation, learning and development, and talent management processes. Previously, she led special anti-bias projects at the Anti-Defamation League’s A World of Difference Institute and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network). Dr. T was also a staff developer at Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility and a faculty member at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work, teaching graduate and faculty courses on DEI. She holds a BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and an MA and PhD from Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

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About the Author: Rusty Dornin

Rusty Dornin is the director of marketing and communications for Ulu Ventures. An award-winning radio and television journalist, she was a CNN correspondent for nearly 18 years covering domestic and world news ranging from war to natural disasters and tales of crime and politics