NFL Announces Diversity Advisory Committee Members

Expert panel to review existing diversity and hiring policies, provide recommendations

Today, the National Football League (NFL) announced the creation of the NFL Diversity Advisory Committee, following its pledge last month to retain outside experts to review the league’s diversity policies and practices. The six-member committee will lend its expert, external perspective on industry best practices and will evaluate league and club diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies and initiatives, including all hiring processes, policies and procedures, with a primary focus on senior-level coach and front office personnel positions.

After completing this evaluation, the committee will provide comprehensive recommendations to the league office and club ownership for consideration.

Comprising top experts from the academic, legal, DEI, football and corporate worlds, the committee’s membership, which will convene initially in the coming weeks, is as follows:

  • Pamela Carlton, Founder and President, Springboard
  • Peter Harvey, Former Attorney General of New Jersey; Partner, Patterson Belknap
  • Patricia Brown Holmes, Managing Partner, Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila
  • Stefanie K. Johnson, Associate Professor, University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business
  • Rick Smith, Former General Manager, Houston Texans
  • Don Thompson, Founder and CEO, Cleveland Avenue, and Former President and CEO, McDonald’s Corporation

“We’ve worked for years and made progress in many areas to ensure that staff and leaders in our office and at our clubs reflect the racial and gender makeup of America, but we have more work to do, particularly at the head coach and front-office level,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “This esteemed group’s work will help us build a more inclusive league. We look forward to their recommendations – and to continuing our conversations with other outside experts, community and civil rights leaders, Fritz Pollard Alliance and current and former players and coaches – to make our efforts and those of the clubs more effective so that real and tangible results will be achieved.”

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with the NFL, a vitally important organization in the world of sports and in American culture, on such critical matters like DEI and its policies and practices related to hiring and retention,” said Pamela Carlton. “The other committee members and I look forward to completing a rigorous, independent analysis of how the NFL and its clubs approach diversity and inclusion to ensure that minority candidates have equitable opportunities at the highest levels.”

Member Biographies of the NFL Diversity Advisory Committee

Pamela Carlton, Founder and President, Springboard
After 22 years on Wall Street as an investment banker and head of research, Pamela launched Springboard – Partners in Cross Cultural Leadership, LLC in 2003. Springboard, which Pamela has led as President since its founding, is an organizational consulting firm that assesses organizations for an inclusive culture and then recommends interventions, develops and implements diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, and provides independent advisory services in legal settlements involving DEI issues. Springboard also conducts research on DEI and develops leadership and professional development seminars in the corporate and non-profit sectors, including clients American Express, Boeing, 3M, PepsiCo, Time Warner, Moody’s Investors Service, JPMorgan Chase, Constellation Energy, Medtronic, SEO and MetLife, among others. In 2014, Pamela co-founded The Everest Project research initiative dedicated to women breaking new ground and organizations reaching new heights by championing and elevating women leaders. Sponsored by Time Warner and Walmart, Everest issued a report entitled, “The Eve of Change: Women Redefining Corporate America,” which identified key strategies senior women across affinity groups use to lead transformational change in their organizations. Pamela retired as a Managing Director and Associate Director of U.S. Equity Research at JPMorgan Chase in May 2003, having also served as Director of U.S. Equity Research for Chase Asset Management from 1996 to 1999. Prior to JPMorgan Chase, Pamela was an investment banker with Morgan Stanley from 1982 to 1991 in corporate finance and capital markets and served as Morgan Stanley’s Co-Director of U.S. and Latin America Equity Research from 1991 to 1996. Pamela began her career as a corporate attorney at Cleary Gottlieb. Pamela serves on the Boards of Evercore , where she is on the Audit Committee; Columbia Threadneedle Investments (the mutual fund board of Ameriprise) where she chairs the Governance Committee and previously chaired the Audit Committee; Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance ; and New York-Presbyterian Hospital where she is on the Executive Committee and chairs the People Committee. In 2021, she was elected to the Governing Council of the Independent Directors Council for the mutual fund industry.

Pamela is a member of the Women’s Forum of New York. She has also served on the Board of Visitors of both Yale School of Management and Yale Law School, and the Board of Trustees of Williams College. Pamela earned a B.A. from Williams College and was President of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. She also earned a J.D. from Yale Law School and an M.B.A. from Yale School of Management.

Peter Harvey, Former Attorney General of New Jersey; Partner, Patterson Belknap
Peter Harvey is a past Attorney General of New Jersey and a former federal prosecutor. As such, Peter has been a central player in civil and criminal trials, government investigations, and consumer fraud matters for many years. A gifted trial lawyer, his nearly 30 years of courtroom experience includes significant commercial matters, frequently within the hospitality, pharmaceutical and entertainment/sports industries. Mr. Harvey was nominated to serve as independent monitor for the Newark Police Department, responsible for overseeing the NPD’s compliance with a Consent Decree issued by the U.S. Department of Justice. He also currently represents corporations and individuals in business disputes throughout the nation. He has tried several major civil and criminal jury and non-jury cases in federal and state courts. He also conducts internal investigations for senior executives seeking to learn facts about employee misconduct or inappropriate business practices. Peter also assists clients in navigating Grand Jury Subpoenas and government Civil Investigative Demands. He works with clients to develop strategies to achieve the client’s desired result, whether through trial, court decision, or settlement.

Peter managed an Attorney General’s Office of 9,600 employees in 10 separate divisions and a budget of approximately $1 billion. He had principal responsibility for coordinating New Jersey’s homeland security strategy for both law enforcement and the private sector as Chairman of the cabinet-level New Jersey Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force. He was one of six Attorneys General that met regularly with the U.S. Attorney General and senior U.S. Department of Justice officials to discuss various national law enforcement policy issues. Peter continues to be connected to issues upon which state Attorneys General are focused through his participation in the National Association of Attorneys General and his close association with present and former Attorneys General. He served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey where he tried cases involving financial fraud, organized crime, and bank robbery. Upon graduation from Law School, he served as law clerk to the Hon. Dickinson R. Debevoise, United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey. Peter received his B.A. from Morgan State University and his J.D. from Columbia Law School.

Patricia Brown Holmes, Managing Partner, Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila
Patricia Brown Holmes is a highly respected and accomplished lawyer who focuses her practice on the areas of high-stakes commercial litigation, crisis management, white-collar crime, and legal client counseling. Patricia is the first African American woman to lead and have her name on the door of a major law firm that is not women- or minority-owned. As a former state court judge and experienced prosecutor and defense lawyer, she brings a unique variety of capabilities to her practice. Patricia’s comprehensive trial experience, coupled with her deft management abilities, position her as a valuable advocate and trusted adviser to her clients.

Prior to serving as an associate judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Patricia was an Assistant U.S. Attorney and an Assistant State’s Attorney. She is one of only a handful of attorneys in the State of Illinois who has tried cases in state, city, and federal court as well as state appellate, federal appellate, and state supreme courts. Patricia has practiced in courtrooms from all sides of the bench – as a prosecutor, defense attorney, and as a judge. Given her familiarity with sensitive legal matters, she is also extremely qualified to conduct internal investigations and assist clients in managing their most critical “bet-the-company” crises. She is keen on business continuity, media and public relations, risk assessment, conflict resolution and recovery, and recurrence prevention. Every matter ends with lessons learned. Applying sound judgment, creative strategies, and common sense, Patricia navigates complicated and delicate legal matters with appropriate discretion and poise. Patricia is widely recognized as an engaging speaker having presented to both corporations and law firms on a variety of continuing legal education topics, including ethics and diversity and inclusion. She has won many awards and accolades for her involvement in the legal community, mentoring successes, and efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Patricia served as an associate judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County for nine years. She previously served the City of Chicago as its Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel for Municipal Prosecutions, supervising a staff of attorneys practicing in chancery and municipal courts.

Patricia holds Bar Admissions in Illinois, the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar) and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. She has received numerous special appointments including being appointed Co-Chair of the Illinois Supreme Court Judicial Screening Committee. Patricia has been an adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s school of law as well as Loyola’s institute for paralegal studies. Her work has been in numerous publications, and she holds over 35 accolades and awards for her work. Patricia earned her B.S. from the University of Illinois as well as her J.D.

Stefanie K. Johnson, Associate Professor, University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business
Dr. Stefanie K. Johnson is a researcher focused on the intersection of leadership and diversity and works with the best companies to implement evidence-based practices to reduce unconscious bias and increase inclusion. She has lent her expertise and thought leadership to organizations like The World Economic Forum, NASA, and The Conference Board. She is a member of Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 Coaches, was recognized by Thinkers50 in 2020 and 2021, and is the author of the national bestseller, “Inclusify: Harnessing the Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams.” Her work is published in top journals, and she has received $3.8 million in external grant funding, including funding from NIOSH, CDC/NIH, NASA, and Army Research Institute. Stephanie has presented her work at over 170 meetings around the world including at the White House for a 2016 summit on diversity in corporate America. Media outlets featuring Stefanie’s work include The Economist, Newsweek, Time, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, HuffPost, Marie Claire, Washington Post, Quartz, Discover, CNN, ABC, NBC, CNBC. She has appeared on Fox, ABC, NBC, CNN, and CNN International.

As an associate professor at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, Stephanie teaches undergraduate and graduate students focused on leadership and inclusion. She holds the Andrea and Michael Leeds Research Fellowship, is the Director of CU Boulder’s Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at Leeds and is a 2020 CU Boulder RIO Fellow. She is a fellow in the Society of Industrial-Organizational Psychologists (SIOP) and the American Psychological Society (APS). She earned a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. from Rice University.

Rick Smith, Former General Manager, Houston Texans
Rick Smith is an American football executive. He served as the general manager of the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL) from 2006 to 2017, the youngest general manager in the NFL  when he took the job at age 36. He also served as the team’s executive vice president of football operations from 2012 to 2017, overseeing all football-related operations and the player acquisition process. He was honored with the 2008 Tank Younger Award, presented annually by the Fritz Pollard Alliance for outstanding work in an NFL front office. Rick was also an original member of the General Managers Advisory Committee that provided advice and other feedback to the NFL Football Operations department on the integrity of the game, expansion of technology, and other ways to improve the game. Rick stepped back from his GM/EVP position in 2017 to deal with family matters.

A former college football player himself, Rick was a strong safety and team captain during his college career at Purdue University. After his playing career, he became the youngest full-time position coach in the Big Ten Conference when he was hired as Purdue’s secondary coach at the age of 24. Rick began his career in the NFL in 1996 as a member of the Denver Broncos staff as an assistant defensive backs coach, winning the Super Bowl his first two seasons with the team. In 2000, he moved to a front-office role when the Broncos named him their Director of Pro Personnel – one of his duties was studying changes to the rulebook, which later led Rick to a coveted slot on the NFL’s Competition Committee. This career move landed him with the Houston Texans as their General Manager in 2006. He attained a B.S. from Purdue University.

Don Thompson, Founder and CEO, Cleveland Avenue, Former President and CEO, McDonald’s Corporation
Don Thompson is the Founder and CEO of Cleveland Avenue and the former President and CEO of McDonald’s Corporation. Retiring in 2015 after a 25- year career with the Golden Arches, Thompson and his wife, Liz, formed Cleveland Avenue, LLC and The Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education (The CAFÉ).

Bringing together global restaurant expertise, a passion for consumer innovation, and deep respect for entrepreneurs, Cleveland Avenue invests in food and beverage brands and technology companies that positively disrupt large and growing markets.

Always giving back, Thompson received the 2021 Dreamer Award from his alma mater, Purdue University, for his vision for service and impact on the lives of millions of Boilermaker customers and employees across the country throughout his career.

Thompson is a member of the Commercial and Economic Clubs of Chicago, World Business Chicago, and the Arthur M.Brazier Foundation. He serves as Trustee for The Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education and Purdue University. Thompson also serves on The Northern Trust Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, Footprint and Northwestern Memorial HealthCare board of directors. Thompson previously served as a Director on the Beyond Meat Board from 2015-2021, Exelon Board from 2006-2012 and the McDonald’s Corporation Board from 2011-2015.

Thompson received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and an Honorary Doctorate in Science from Excelsior College.

Roy Kessel

Roy Kessel

Roy Kessel is the Founder of the Sports Philanthropy Network. Roy has worked in the sports business world for over 20 years including serving as an instructor in Northwestern University's graduate Sports Management Program. Having served as a sports lawyer representing athletes, entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, Roy has extensive experience helping organizations improve their strategy, marketing, communications and leadership development.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email