past event
Racial Equity

Race, Work, and Opportunity in America

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About this event

We like to think that the US labor market is a meritocracy — that people who work hard will attain good jobs, climb the career ladder, or start and grow businesses. The experience of Black Americans, however, raises questions about whether the reality lines up with the ideal. The unemployment rate among Black Americans is roughly double that of White Americans, and Black college graduates are roughly twice as likely to be unemployed as White college graduates. Over the past three decades, Black workers have attained higher levels of education and experience, but have not seen a commensurate increases in earnings, benefits, and economic standing. How do we understand the experience of Black workers in the US, and what does it tell us about working in America today?


Event recap
Racial Equity
Shaping the Future for Black Workers Means Confronting Our History
November 3, 2017 • Nicole Corea


Featured speakers

Ryan P. Haygood, Esq. @RyanPHaygood
President & CEO, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice @NJ_ISJ

One of the nation’s leading civil rights lawyers, Ryan Haygood became the third president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice in 2015. In this role, he leverages his national expertise to advance the Institute’s cutting-edge work in empowering urban communities where residents of color are connected to full-time, meaningful jobs, have access to affordable housing and the democratic process, and are treated fairly by the criminal justice system. A passionate advocate, Ryan speaks and writes regularly on issues concerning race, law, civil rights, and democracy, frequently interviewed by media outlets, including: MSNBC, CNN, National Public Radio, and the New York Times. Prior to leading the Institute, Haygood served as the deputy director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Inc., where he litigated some of the most important civil rights cases of our time. In two of those cases, he defended a core provision of the Voting Rights Act before the United States Supreme Court. Prior to joining LDF, Ryan was a litigation associate in the New York office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP, and was a recipient of the prestigious LDF/Fried Frank Fellowship. Ryan received his J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law and B.A. in American History and Political Science cum laude from Colorado College.

Debra Plousha Moore @plousha
System Chief of Staff & Executive Vice President, Carolinas HealthCare System @carolinas

Debra Plousha Moore serves as System Chief of Staff and Executive Vice President at Carolinas HealthCare System – one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive healthcare organizations. She assists the President & CEO with strategy discussions with all major stakeholders regarding the transformation of healthcare as it influences business execution. She is one of the nation’s foremost authorities in the fields of leadership development, human resources, diversity and inclusion, and organizational development. As a visionary leader, she brings focus, intensity of purpose and compassion to the fast-changing world of healthcare. Before joining Carolinas HealthCare System, Ms. Plousha Moore was Senior Vice President, Human Resources/Organizational Development for OhioHealth. She has also previously served as Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Genesys Health System as well as Vice President of Employee Relations, Diversity and Human Resources for the Franciscan Health System of the Ohio Valley. Ms. Plousha Moore spent 10 years at the University of Dayton as the Associate Dean of Students and adjunct faculty in the department of Counseling and Human Services. She earned her bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University and a master’s degree in education from the University of Dayton. Ms. Plousha Moore has a passion for mentoring and the development of women, serves on numerous boards, and has received local, regional, and national recognition for both her professional and community work.

Don Tomaskovic-Devey
Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts @UMASSSociology

Don Tomaskovic-Devey studies the processes that generate workplace inequality. He is the founding Director of the UMass Center for Employment Equity and the coordinator of the Comparative Organizational Inequality Network. He has projects on the impact of financialization upon U.S. income distribution, workplace desegregation and equal opportunity, network models of labor market structure, and relational inequality as a theoretical and empirical project. His long-term agenda is to work with others to move the social science of inequality to a more fully relational and organizational stance. He is advancing this agenda through empirical studies of jobs and workplaces, as well as social relationships between jobs within workplaces and the social relationships that link organizations to each other. This agenda is supported by principled theory and methodological projects. He is best known for his contributions to Relational Inequality Theory as well as organizational sampling and measurement methods. He is a founding member of the UMass Computational Social Science Institute. He is also a founding member of the EEODataNet, a network of researchers using data from and for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Tanya Wallace-Gobern
Executive Director, National Black Worker Center Project @NBWCP

Tanya Wallace-Gobern became the Executive Director of the National Black Worker Center Project in June 2016. She brings over 20 years of experience in labor and community organizing. Tanya began her career immediately following college graduation when she joined the Organizing Institute of the AFL-CIO. Soon after that, her desire to organize Black workers led her to work for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU — a predecessor union of Unite HERE) and move to the Southeast to help on their unionization campaign in that region. Later, she created the AFL-CIO’s Historical Black College Recruitment program in order to increase the number of Blacks among union leadership and staff. For the past 10 years, Tanya has been working for the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions including running their field operation.



Dorian T. Warren @dorianwarren
President, Center for Community Change Action @CCCAction
Vice-President, Center for Community Change @communitychange

Dorian T. Warren is President of the Center for Community Change Action (CCCA) and Vice-President of the Center for Community Change (CCC). He is also a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and Co-Chair of the Economic Security Project. A progressive scholar, organizer, and media personality, Warren has worked to advance racial, economic and social justice for over two decades. He previously taught for over a decade at the University of Chicago and Columbia University, where he was Co-Director of the Columbia University Program on Labor Law and Policy. Warren also worked at MSNBC where he was a Contributor, fill-in host for Melissa Harris Perry and Now with Alex Wagner, and Host and Executive Producer of Nerding Out on MSNBC’s digital platform. He currently serves on several boards, including Working Partnerships USA, the Workers Lab, the National Employment Law Project, Capital & Main, and The Nation Magazine Editorial Board. As a commentator on public affairs, Warren has appeared regularly on television and radio including NBC Nightly News, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, BET, BBC, NPR, Bloomberg, and NY1, among other outlets. He has also written for The Nation, Huffington Post, Newsweek, Salon, Washington Post, New York Times, Medium, Ebony, and Boston Review. Warren is co-author of The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy (Cambridge University Press) and co-editor of Race and American Political Development (Routledge). In 2013, he was included on the list of NBC’s theGrio’s 100 people making history today. After growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Warren received his B.A. from the University of Illinois and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Yale University.


Related Resource

Background information: Race, Work, and Opportunity in America


About this series

This event is part of the Working in America series, an ongoing discussion series hosted by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program that highlights an array of critical issues affecting low- and moderate-income workers in the United States and ideas for improving and expanding economic opportunities for working people. For more information, visit


#talkgoodjobs with us

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @AspenWorkforce and @AspenFCS and tweeting with the hashtag #talkgoodjobs.


Photo credit: Los Angeles Black Worker Center


Event information
Wed Oct 25, 2017
12:00pm - 1:30pm EDT
The Aspen Institute
One Dupont Circle, NW Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036