Leading With Empathy & Allyship Show

Expanding Anti-Racist Allyship With Sonja Gittens Ottley

Sonja Gittens Ottley

In this episode, Melinda Briana Epler, Founder & CEO of Change Catalyst, and Sonja Gittens Ottley, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Asana, talk about “Expanding Anti-Racist Allyship.” You’ll learn about anti-racism, strategies to expand our anti-racist allyship to address intersectionality and many forms of racism, and how this can help you can level up DEI efforts in your workplace.

Additional Resources

The live show is made accessible thanks to Interpreter-Now and White Coat Captioning.



  • “It is often easy to start to think about in terms of the communities you are most adjacent to. For me, it was around immigrants – but then it started to expand…. I would step back and say you always have to be learning, to be challenging yourself on what are you missing, what are you assuming that you’re aware of, right? And how is that showing up?
  • And I think particularly for professionals in this space, you have to approach it in a way that allows you both to prioritize – or to center the groups that are under most harm at a particular moment – but also with the lens of centering, as well as, how can I expand this, or even scale it, if we want to use a business-y term? How can we scale it and take action in support of a particular group that will allow you to impact other groups?”
  • “Expanding the work of anti-racism is the thing that shifts the needle and has the impact around what we are all trying to do when we talk about diversity and inclusion. Understanding these are the systems we exist in, and we need to collectively counteract these behaviors – but it literally requires everyone to do it. I talk a lot about Asana, and a “team of everyone” approach. This D&I work is not work that can be done by one person. Everyone needs to understand it and everyone has a role to play so it can have impact.”


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Guest Speaker
Sonja Gittens Ottley

Sonja Gittens Ottley
Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Asana

Sonja Gittens Ottley is the Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Asana, where she’s responsible for crafting the company’s strategies for recruiting employees from underrepresented groups and creating an inclusive environment that allows people to thrive. Prior to her roles in diversity and inclusion at Asana and at Facebook, Sonja was global policy counsel for Yahoo’s Business & Human Rights Program. She is a native of Trinidad & Tobago.


Transcript coming soon.

About the Host

Host: Melinda Briana Epler

Melinda Briana Epler has over 25 years of experience developing business innovation and inclusion strategies for startups, Fortune 500 companies, and global NGOs.

As CEO of Change Catalyst, Melinda currently works with the tech industry to solve diversity and inclusion together. Using her background in storytelling and large-scale culture change, she is a strategic advisor for tech companies, tech hubs, and governments around the world. She co-leads a series of global solutions-focused conferences called Tech Inclusion, where she has partnered with over 450 tech companies and community organizations and hosted 43 solutions-focused diversity and inclusion events around the world.

Previously, Melinda was a Marketing and Culture Executive and award-winning documentary filmmaker – her film and television work includes projects that exposed the AIDS crisis in South Africa, explored women’s rights in Turkey, and prepared communities for the effects of climate change. She has worked on several television shows, including NBC’s The West Wing.

Melinda is a TED speaker. She speaks, mentors and writes about diversity and inclusion in tech, allyship, social entrepreneurship, underrepresented entrepreneurs and investing. She has spoken on hundreds of stages around the world, including SXSW, Grace Hopper, Wisdom 2.0, the World Bank, Obama White House, Clinton Foundation, Black Enterprise, Google, Indeed, Capital One and McKinsey.

In The Press

Watch Melinda’s TED Talk

Speaking Engagements

Change Catalyst Co-Founder Melinda Briana Epler has spoken across the globe in hundreds of venues and virtual events. Empathy, Allyship, Advocacy, Microaggressions, Inclusive Leadership, and Building Inclusive Teams are just some of the topics Melinda has spoken on. Let us know about your next speaking engagement needs! Melinda has also spoken on how to build organizational capacity to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as how to lead behavior change or how to build allies and advocates.


This show has given me clear opportunities to learn in the midst of 2020’s numerous social and personal challenges, including engaging remote content. I’ve learned new terms, heard new voices, diversified my interests and internalized personal narratives that have inspired me to get more active.

The show shaped my scope of reasoning on the dynamics in the corporate world, brand building, harmony across board with team mates. Your series has helped me feel less alone and less daunted by the challenges I face as a leader at a company that is used to moving fast with decisions and making swift progress across the board. I so earnestly want to grow and deepen my perspective when it comes to diversity and allyship; it’s not always clear how to do it. This series has felt like a path I can follow and revisit and draw strength and insight from. Thank you.

I watched many of your live shows in 2020, and I learned something from every discussion. They were inspiring on many levels. Early on during the pandemic (especially), the show also provided me with a sense of community that I was sorely needing. Thank you.

Virtual Training, Consulting & Coaching Solutions
If you’re looking for a way for remote teams to continue their learning and professional development, we’re now offering virtual allyship, inclusion and leadership trainings. We’ve also continued our consulting practice virtually. AND we now offer hourly coaching. Let us know if you’re interested in learning more!
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