Executive Chair, Former Chairman NBC News
Andrew Lack served as Former Chairman of NBC News. He oversaw editorial and business operations for the network’s award-winning television and digital news properties. He is a member of the NBCU Executive Committee and reports to Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal.
Lack, an NBC veteran, returned to the company in April 2015. He first joined in 1993 as President of NBC News. Under his leadership, the network transformed into America’s most-watched news organization, with NBC Nightly News, Meet the Press, TODAY and Dateline NBC all leading their respective categories. He was also responsible for expanding the TODAY show to three hours, and for creating the program’s street-side studio at Rockefeller Center in New York City in 1994.
In 2001, Lack was promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer of NBC. In that role, he oversaw entertainment, news (including MSNBC and CNBC), NBC stations, sales, and broadcast and network operations.
Most recently, Lack held the position of the first-ever Chief Executive Officer of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the independent federal agency that oversees all U.S. civilian international media.
Lack previously served as Chairman of the Bloomberg Media Group. He joined Bloomberg in October 2008 as CEO of its Global Media Group, where he led the expansion of its television, radio, magazine, conference and digital businesses. During Lack’s tenure, Bloomberg LP enhanced the quality of its media portfolio, expanded internationally with seven channels across Asia, Africa, India and the Middle East; and built out services to connect people with information in more places and across more platforms than ever before.
Prior to Bloomberg, Lack was Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment, where he oversaw management of the company’s prominent international artists and vast catalog of recorded music from around the world.
Lack spent much of his early television career at CBS News. After joining in 1976, within a year, he became a prominent producer for 60 Minutes and subsequently senior executive producer of CBS Reports. Lack’s broadcasts at CBS earned numerous honors, including 16 Emmy Awards and four Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Journalism Awards.
Donna K. Barksdale
Philanthropist and President of Mississippi River Trading Company
Consistently throughout her life, Donna Kennedy Barksdale has provided leadership in education activities, private business, public philanthropy, church and civic engagement.
She is currently on the board of the Aspen Institute, a global nonprofit committed to realizing a free, just and equitable society; a member of the International Women’s Forum, whose mission is to support the women leaders of today and tomorrow; a board member of the Foundation for Mississippi History; and a board member of the Mississippi Women’s Foundation. She served on the executive committee of America’s Promise Alliance, committed to creating the conditions of success for all children and youth, and, among many other activities, she has served as a board member of Habitat for Humanity, a board member of the Mississippi Arts Commission, as a founder and chair of Leadership Jackson, on the board of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, a past president of the Junior League of Jackson, past chair of Mistletoe Marketplace and a deacon of her church.
As well as being chair of the board of MississippiToday.org, she is chair of the board of Nunoerin, a creative data economy company. Since 1991, she has served as president of Mississippi River Trading Company, and she manufactured in China and Mongolia for over 10 years. She previously served as a consultant to Viking Corporation.
Barksdale was deeply involved in the Youth Employment Project (YEP) in Jackson, which provided students at Lanier High School an opportunity to work in real-world professional settings during the summer and helped prepare and mentor them for college and for professional careers. Their college completion rate was 93-100%.
CEO, Hope Enterprises
Bill Bynum is CEO of HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation, Hope Credit Union and Hope Policy Institute), a family of organizations that provides financial services and engages in advocacy to combat the extent to which factors such as race, gender, birthplace and wealth limit one’s ability to prosper. Since 1994, HOPE has generated over $3 billion in financing that has benefited nearly 2 million people in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Bill began his career in North Carolina building groundbreaking programs at Self-Help and the NC Rural Center.
Bynum’s board and advisory service includes the Aspen Institute, Bank of America, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Prosperity Now, William Winter Institute, E Pluribus Unum, Mississippi Today, Churchill Capital IV and Churchill Capital V. A recipient of the University of North Carolina Distinguished Alumnus Award, Bynum is a Henry Crown Fellow, Emerson Collective Dial Fellow, Salzburg Global Fellow. He previously chaired the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Advisory Board and Treasury Department’s Community Development Advisory Board, served on the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, and as a Towsley Policymaker in Residence at the University of Michigan Gerald Ford School of Public Policy
Senior Vice President of Operations, Walmart
Ivy serves as the Senior Vice President of Store Operations for Walmart’s East Business Unit. Prior to assuming her current role, she served in roles of Regional Vice President for neighborhood markets in the Southwest US, and Complex Market Manager in Southeast Florida. She joined Walmart in 2011 in Store Operations, serving as Divisional Merchandise Director and then Director of Innovations, responsible for merchandise and operational support for a division of stores. Ivy then joined the Walmart U.S Supply Chain as a Senior Director, leading teams responsible for supplier quality, inbound optimization, and warehouse administration functions. Ivy is also a former chair of Walmart’s Black and African American Associate Resource Group.
Prior to joining Walmart, Ivy spent 11 years in Technology Consulting with Accenture, delivering enterprise technology solutions for Fortune 500 companies in the Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment industries. She earned an MBA from the Tulane University Freeman School of Business and a BS in Computer Science from Hampton University. Ivy and her husband Shawn have two girls, Lucille and Marin.
Partner, Butler Snow
Tray Hairston is an attorney at Butler Snow LLP and is a member of the firm’s public finance and incentives practice group. Hairston focuses on bond transactions and economic development projects. He has served as bond counsel for various cities and counties throughout the state of Mississippi.
Hairston is former counsel and policy advisor to Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and was the governor’s liaison to the Mississippi Development Authority, which is the state’s economic development arm, the State Bond Commission, the Mississippi Home Corporation, where affordable housing tax credits are allocated, and minority contracting.
As counsel to the governor, he helped assist the state in 2012 before Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard & Poor’s in New York pursuant to the state’s $300 million variable rate demand obligation restructuring and advance refunding of approximately $240 million in debt and in 2013 when the rating agencies toured the state visiting various existing industries such as Nissan, Toyota, and General Atomics. As a member of the governor’s staff, he also helped draft the Mississippi Health Care Industry Zone Act of 2012 in addition to drafting sections of the Mississippi Home Corporation’s allocation plan for administering affordable housing tax credits for health care industry zone developments for workforce housing. Since leaving the governor’s office, he has continued to assist the state in its rating agency preparations both in 2014 and 2015.
Prior to joining the office of the governor, Tray was an attorney at Balch & Bingham LLP where he practiced in the firm’s corporate, public finance and economic development incentives sections. Before Balch, Tray also served as a year-long federal law clerk to the Honorable Henry T. Wingate, District Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi from 2009-2010.
Prior to beginning his legal career, Hairston was a member of the Global Business Division at the Mississippi Development Authority, where he provided project management assistance to companies and consultants looking to locate new businesses in Mississippi. In this capacity, Hairston helped companies obtain economic development incentives. He was also a legal extern to MDA’s legal counsel during his third year of law school.
Tray received dual degrees from Tougaloo College in English and Humanities with an emphasis in Philosophy (magna cum laude). He also spent an extra year as a student at Tougaloo (i.e., one year as an exchange student) attending Brown University in Providence, R.I. during the fall semester and New York University in New York City during the spring semester. Tray received his MBA in 2006 from Belhaven College in Jackson and is a 2009 graduate of Mississippi College School of Law, where he received American Jurisprudence awards for Corporate Finance and Counseling and Negotiations.
Hairston regularly publishes scholarly legal articles and is an adjunct law professor at Mississippi College School of Law. He is a member of the Mississippi Economic Development Council and the National Association of Bond Lawyers. Tray was recognized as “Young Lawyer of the Year” by Mississippi College School of Law in 2012 and “Top 40 under 40” by the Mississippi Business Journal 2012-2013. He most recently gave a TEDx Talk on “How to Make Health Care an Economic Driver” at Jackson’s first ever TED Talk forum.
President, Liberty Bank
Todd McDonald is the President of Liberty Bank and Trust Company and is a member of the Board of Directors. He has a degree in Business Management from Morehouse College, and an MBA in Business Administration from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, as well as a Graduate School of Banking Degree from Louisiana State University. Todd is responsible for developing business plans and leading high impact initiatives and is involved in the company’s corporate strategy decisions. Todd is also active in various civic organizations, including the National CDFI Fund Board, the New Orleans Board of Liquidation, the National Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America, the Cowen Institute, the Bureau of Government Research, and the Louisiana Workforce Investment Council. Liberty Bank and Trust is a designated MDI (Minority Depository Institution) providing personal, business, mortgage, automobile, home equity and freedom fast loans to customers. It is the largest black-owned bank in the United States. Founded in 1972 in New Orleans, Liberty has since grown its assets to more than one billion dollars and has expanded into eleven states, while maintaining a dedication to community and business development. The bank’s mission is to provide cost-effective delivery of high quality, innovative, customer driven financial products and services to diverse markets, with a focus on communities of color who have traditionally been underserved. More information about Liberty Bank and Trust Company is available at www.libertybank.net
Founding President and CEO, Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi
Tom Pittman was co-incorporator of the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi in 2002 and served as its first chairman before becoming its first full-time president and CEO in 2004. He oversaw its development of $20 million in endowments while granting $25 million to more than 200 nonprofits in its 11-county region before becoming president emeritus in 2020.
He previously was publisher and editor of the DeSoto Times newspaper, which received first place awards for general excellence in Mississippi. Prior to that he served as general manager and editor of the Daily Journal in Tupelo, the state’s third-largest newspaper, for 18 years. He became interested in electronic delivery of news in 1981 after reading about Knight-Ridder’s videotext experiment in Miami.
Pittman has served as president of both the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers and the Mississippi Press Association. He currently serves on the boards for Entergy Mississippi and Southern Bancorp Community Partners. He has previously served on the boards of the Mississippi Economic Council, North Mississippi Health Foundation, Mississippi’s Kids Count and Excel By 5. Pittman was a charter board member for the DeSoto Arts Council and the DeSoto Health and Wellness Center.
A native Mississippian, he earned degrees from the University of Mississippi in sociology and Emory University in theology.
Dr. Ivy Taylor
A native of Queens, New York, Ivy R. Taylor spent twenty years in San Antonio, Texas as an affordable housing advocate, educator, and elected official before beginning her role as president of Rust College, where she served from 2020-2023.
Ivy’s career began as a City of San Antonio employee. She then served as Vice President of Merced Housing Texas where she worked to improve family stability for apartment community residents. She spent six years as a lecturer at the University of Texas at San Antonio in the Public Administration Department. Ivy also served on the San Antonio Planning Commission and was previously a Commissioner for the San Antonio Urban Renewal Agency.
During her time as councilmember, Ivy led a significant community revitalization effort. Through her leadership, the Eastside, a distressed area of San Antonio, was awarded over $50 million in grants. In the summer of 2014, she was appointed as mayor of San Antonio, per the charter’s requirements following a vacancy of the mayor’s office. In 2015, she was elected by the citizens of San Antonio. The 2014 appointment singled her out as the first African American to serve as mayor of San Antonio and made San Antonio the largest city in the United States to have a Black woman serving as mayor at that time. During her three years as mayor, accomplishments included adoption of a comprehensive plan for the city, a new contract with the police union that saved millions in healthcare costs, and approval of a key water supply project.
While serving as mayor, Ivy joined the Board of Trustees of a historically Black college in Austin, Texas and this sparked an interest in using her leadership skills at an HBCU. After leaving the mayor’s office, she enrolled in a doctoral program in higher education management at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2020, she completed the program, obtaining a Doctor of Education degree. Ivy also obtained a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1998. In 1992, she received a Bachelor’s Degree from Yale University.
In May of 2020, the Board of Trustees at Rust College selected Ivy to serve as 12th president of Rust College, a United Methodist affiliated HBCU located in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Ivy was the first woman president of the institution which was founded in 1866 to educate freed slaves.
Ivy shares her adventures with her husband of over 20 years, Rodney, and daughter, Morgan, who is a college student.