Heather McGhee designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America. Her new book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, a New York Times bestseller, offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone—not just for people of color.
For nearly two decades, McGhee helped build the non-partisan “think and do” tank Demos, serving four years as president. Under McGhee’s leadership, Demos moved their original idea for “debt-free college” into the center of the 2016 presidential debate, argued before the Supreme Court to protect voting rights in January 2018, helped win pro-voter reforms in five states over two years, provided expert testimony to Congressional committees, including a
Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 2017, and led the research campaigns behind successful wage increases for low paid workers on federal contracts, as well as at McDonalds, Walmart, and other chain retailers.
An influential voice in the media and an NBC contributor, McGhee has shared her opinions, writing and research in numerous outlets including NBC’s Meet the Press, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Politico and National Public Radio. She was a featured speaker at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit in October 2017.
McGhee has deep political experience, having served as an architect of the agenda-setting domestic policy platform for Senator John Edwards’ 2008 primary campaign focused on bold solutions to inequality. She also played a leadership role in steering the historic Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and was one of the key advocates credited for the adoption of the Volcker Rule.
McGhee holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of California Berkeley School of Law. McGhee is the chair of the board of Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, and also serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Open Society Foundations’ US Programs.
Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola is the Founder of Wecyclers, a for-profit social enterprise that promotes environmental sustainability, social welfare, and community health by utilizing low-cost cargo bicycles called “wecycles” to provide convenient recycling services to households in densely populated, low-income neighborhoods. Wecyclers motivates families to recycle through an SMS-based incentive program that rewards them with points for consistent recycling that can be converted to cash. Under her leadership, Wecyclers has established partnerships with Lagos State Government and the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), and since 2012 has registered over 23,00 households and diverted over 8,000 metric tons of recyclable materials from landfills into productive reuse in Lagos, Nigeria.
Bilikiss earned an MBA at the Sloan of School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was a Legatum Fellow at MIT’s Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship and Vice President of the MIT Sloan Africa Business Club. Additionally, she holds an MSc. in Computer Science from Vanderbilt University, and a BSc. in Computer Science from Fisk University. She is a Carroll Wilson Fellow, an Echoing Green Fellow and a 2013 recipient of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. She published a patent during her time as a Software Engineer with IBM.
Bilikiss is an active public speaker, reaching audiences in Nigeria and beyond at events such as the World Economic Forum’s Davos Conference in 2021. She was recognized as one of the 2016 Quartz Africa Innovators, identified as one of Africa’s Top 5 Entrepreneurs in the Waste Recycling Business by Smallstarter, named as one of the 2016 Ventures Africa 42 African Innovators to Watch, and honored as one of 20 African Women with Powerful and Inspiring Voices by Applause Africa.
Olwale Adebiyi is the Chief Executive Officer of Wecyclers, a leading for-profit recycling social enterprise operating in Lagos, Nigeria that has been able to pioneer incentive-based recycling and significantly develop the waste management supply chain. In 2019, Wecyclers collected over 2000 tons of recyclables and incentivized over 20,000 subscribers to recycle regularly.
Between 2006 and 2016, Mr. Adebiyi worked for the largest steel maker in the United States, Nucor Steel. During his time at Nucor Steel, Mr. Adebiyi worked on several projects such as a green field blast furnace construction project, where Mr. Adebiyi was selected to lead the efforts of coal supplier selection and coal blend testing for the $3 billion greenfield project. Mr. Adebiyi also worked as the production supervisor for the company’s $700 million greenfield Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) project, which is the largest of its kind in the world. While working on the DRI project, Mr. Adebiyi was involved in every aspect, ranging from raw material (iron ore and natural gas) acquisition, construction engineering, talent recruitment, plant commissioning, operations and maintenance.
Mr. Adebiyi holds an MBA from Indiana University, Kelly School of Business, and holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology. While pursuing his master’s degree, he was able to work on groundbreaking research on Hydrogen Production utilizing solar energy, and co-authored several patents and publications in the renewable energy field. Mr. Adebiyi was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria.