This CEO Is RISE-ing Up To Improve Equality In Sports And Society
In the piping hot climate of social change, Diahann Billings-Burford is trying to make a difference. As the CEO of RISE (Ross Initiative In Sports For Equality), Billings-Burford focuses on being part of the solution.
RISE is a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice, and improve race relations. Through partnership and programs, we inspire leaders in sports to create positive change on matters of race and equality.
“With RISE, we have this ability to galvanize people across all races and classes,” she told The Undefeated. “In particular, people across tons of sports league in the United States to address racism, to address social justice and improve race relations. We’re going to be a vehicle to do that, and to amplify that, to help give athletes a platform.”
The world saw many athletes use their platform to speak out on the murder of George Floyd, for example, and showed up to participate in local and national protests that followed. While the national conversation on racial and social justice was encouraging, Billings-Burford knows there is still a lot of work to be done.
“The fight against racism is an uphill battle,” she said in a statement. “Racism is an insidious enemy that oftentimes is overlooked, but one that can manifest itself in the ugliest and most heartbreaking of ways. Its acts against humanity have been burned into the collective memory of an entire community.”
Billings-Burford came to RISE with impressive credentials, earning a degree in psychology from Yale University and a law degree from Columbia University. She was also the chief service officer for New York City and served as executive director of cultural investments at Time Warner.
“I have at times, been the first woman and/or woman of color to hold post or fill a role,” she said in an interview with CRE.com “My optimism and tenacity make others see me as a trailblazer. Just because something hasn’t been done, it does not mean that it cannot be done. If the end is just, then it’s worth working to achieve.”