2023 Channel Futures DE&I 101: Dedication, Determination and Drive

Celebrating the accomplishments of individuals working to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the channel.

Buffy Naylor, Senior Managing Editor

September 28, 2023

51 Slides

As any member of the 2023 Channel Futures DE&I 101 can tell you, the DE&I arena is no place for sissies. It can be hard work, requiring commitment and focus. It can be thankless. But above all, it can be indescribably rewarding.


Pax8’s Lyndsey Hoffman

“My actions can make a difference in the lives of others,” said Lyndsey Hoffman, vice president of social impact at Pax8. “When I create an inclusive work environment or advocate for policies that promote equality and justice, I know I am helping break down barriers and creating opportunities for those who are marginalized or excluded.”


IT By Design’s Kam Kaila

Many of this year’s honorees know all too well what it’s like to be marginalized and excluded. For example, the nomination for Kam Kaila, partner and president of IT By Design, noted that, “Kam recognizes that different perspectives are critical to help build the resiliency of her organization and of her people. She has built a safe space for all within IT By Design. Kam doesn’t want any other woman of color to experience the struggles, inequalities and injustices that she has.”

DE&I Is Not a Fad

The first DE&I 101was published in 2021, when the nation was in the throes of the pandemic and reeling from the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. The general public took up the charge for promoting much-needed equity and inclusion. And not just for people of color, but for those who grappled with inequities due to their gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental health, physical disabilities and more.

However, as is frequently the case with those who embrace popular causes, many hopped off the bandwagon as soon as they spotted something newer and shinier. And once it was out of the limelight, DE&I took some serious hits with the reversal of decades-old legislation that previously had been nearly sacrosanct. DE&I in its various forms was dismissed by some as being the passing fancy of the “woke.”

But here’s the thing: DE&I isn’t a passing fancy or a fad. It’s a necessity. An imperative, if you will.


Ricoh USA’s Michael Jones

“DE&I is the catalyst driving enhanced business and societal outcomes,” said Michael Jones, vice president of human resources, operations, for Ricoh USA. “At its core, it’s the thread that weaves respect and unification across all we do.”

Long-Term Dedication

Jones, who has been involved with DE&I for nearly a quarter of a century, is just one of the many 2023 honorees who have remained dedicated for the long haul. For Rashel Graves, director of channel operatons and program management at Verizon, it’s been more than 23 years. Peter Fidler, co-founder and president of WCA Technologies, has spent 35 years working for DE&I initiatives. David Barthelemy, US Channel Manager for SESTEK, has been involved for a decade. For Amy Bailey, founder of Unusually Unusual Consulting, it’s 20+ years and counting.

What’s the source of such long-term dedication? Maybe it’s steadfastness. Maybe it’s stubbornness. Or maybe it’s as simple as being committed to the proverbial greater good.


Lumen’s Sam Sundstrom

In the words of Sam Sundstrom, director of marketing for Lumen, who has spent more than 10 years working for DE&I, “Now more than ever, DE&I is critical to success for all individuals, businesses and our communities. Most important, it’s the right thing to do.”

Scroll through the slideshow above to meet the Channel Futures DE&I 101 honorees for 2023, all of them intent on doing the right thing.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Buffy Naylor or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

Buffy Naylor

Senior Managing Editor, Channel Futures

Buffy Naylor is senior managing editor of Channel Futures. Prior to joining Informa (then VIRGO) in 2008, she was an award-winning copywriter and editor, then senior manager of corporate communications for an international leisure travel corporation and, before that, in charge of creative development and copywriting for a boutique marketing and public relations agency.

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