Meet Our TeaM. see Our Work.

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Robert Simpson

President & Chief Executive Officer

Rob's reflections 

Communities across the country, including Central New York, are being confronted anew by their own histories of racial injustice and facing increased pressure to tackle these glaring social and economic issues head-on. As an organization with a guiding vision for our region as a place where business thrives and all people prosper, our strategy to drive social and economic equity requires acting intentionally within our corporate and civic leadership. It requires collective, thoughtful engagement and a commitment to continuous improvement, including examining and enhancing our own organizational structures that support the business community and advance greater opportunity for all.

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JuHanna Rogers PH.D (Dr. J)

Vice President of Racial Equity & Social Impact

Dr. J's reflectionS
Stepping up to the moment

You’ve read the Pledge. Now, you’re wondering what’s next? Or maybe you are not yet feeling truly engaged in this movement, or fully understanding the role it plays in the workplace. Maybe you have more questions than answers and are confused about where to begin.


Take a deep breath.


The role of race in our society and workplace isn’t something we have spoken about often. You may not know what questions to ask as we were taught not to ask questions or engage in conversations about race. Maybe you remember as a child wanting to talk about someone of another race and you were told to be quiet. Your desire to discuss the topic was suppressed. It was taboo. Therefore, we have gone through much of our lives only having surface-level conversations about skin color. You were curious but didn’t have a chance to practice or enhance your skills enough to feel competent in talking about racial differences. Maybe that was a relief, until now.


Our country has rarely engaged in deep discussions about racial differences and how our history doesn’t account for what happened after Emancipation, during Reconstruction, and the Civil Rights Movement. It doesn’t help us process how Blacks were denied the right to vote until 1965, which instilled fear and denied Blacks from full engagement in our community.


Dominic Robinson

Vice President of Economic Inclusion; Director, Work Train

Dominic's reflections
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Have the courage to address systemic racism head on

The Syracuse and Central New York economies have been rebounding in recent years, but profound economic disparities still remain. If we are ever going to solve these problems, we must focus on the conditions that have helped create them. For decades, Black Syracuse residents, and other communities of color, were denied the opportunity to fully participate in economic systems. Historical discrimination in the realms of housing, hiring, and capital access made it virtually impossible for communities of color to get ahead. Meanwhile, government policies, such as redlining, Urban Renewal and the Federal Highway Act, literally decimated predominantly minority neighborhoods...

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Aimee Durfee

Director of Workforce Innovation

AImEE's reflections
Adopting a Long-term Workforce Development Strategy

When companies decide they want to diversify their teams or find a pipeline of more diverse talent, there are several important steps to consider. In this piece, we will challenge you to go beyond a short-term, tactical HR approach and to adopt a longer-term framework that emphasizes relationships and investment in talent and culture-building. 


We use the term “diverse” to refer to individuals who are underrepresented in a particular company or occupation. This term could refer to Black people; Indigenous people; people of color; women of all races and ethnicities; people with disabilities; LGBTQ people; or other groups...  

Laiza Semidey

Syracuse Surge Workforce Manager

Laiza's reflections

"There is a momentum to diversify and bEING intentional about racial equity..."

Laiza shares why she is involved in advancing equity work through her role at CenterState CEO.

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Marcus Webb

Economic Inclusion Fellow

Marcus' reflections

Generation Next

Generation Next is a CenterState CEO initiative focused on attracting and retaining diverse young professionals in Central New York, fostering opportunities for career advancement, and connecting diverse talent through social engagement and networking. Marcus Webb shares his reflections on his work with Generation Next, and how it is driving economic opportunities for young leaders in the region.

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Jared Shepard

Research and Policy Analyst

JarEd's reflections
The Data on Diversity

The world, and the workplace, are changing. The demographic shift that has been underway since the baby boomer generation is leading to the most diverse workplace in history. While 72% of the baby boomers generation are white, that percentage has dropped to only 56% of the 87 million millennials in the U.S. Today’s babies are the first generation in history that is less than 50% white. The post-millennial generation will be the most diverse generation yet, with more pursuing college than their parents as they become the driving force behind the workplace and the U.S. economy. 

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Kevin Schwab

Vice President of Government Relations

Kevin's reflections
CNY: A Historic Leader for Equity and Human Rights 

What do we do now? How can we do better? How can I affect meaningful change? Central New York has prepared for this moment for generations. While it may not be widely appreciated, this region has deep roots in the struggle for America’s democratic ideals, the abolitionist movement, the fight for women’s rights, welcoming refugees from the world’s worst conflicts and as a home to the immigrants who write each succeeding chapter in the continually unfolding story of America and our quest to create a more perfect union.