Our Leadership & Development Team
Chief Executive Officer
Julian "Jay" Walker
Julian Walker is the CEO and founding team member of PushBlack. Upon joining PushBlack in 2015, Julian spearheaded the development of the organization's unique voice and compelling Black history, culture, and news content, attracting more than six million subscribers. Before joining PushBlack, Julian was the digital video producer at Atlanta Black Star, a leading Black digital publisher. With a background in filmmaking, his creative career has been focused on crafting emotionally-driven stories relevant to the issues Black folks face today. Julian hosts Black History Year, PushBlack’s signature podcast, which has received over 3M downloads and was one of the "7 podcasts for history buffs” recommended by the New York Times in 2020.
Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer
Tareq Alani is the co-founder and Chief Product Officer of PushBlack. He is a product leader at the intersection of media, technology, and civic engagement. Tareq leads reader revenue growth, generating more than $5M since 2017. He also developed PushBlack’s groundbreaking voter engagement program, which in 2020 reached 70% of Black Americans online and generated 230M peer-to-peer voting messages, making it the largest relational digital voter turnout program. Before PushBlack, Tareq helped win competitive campaigns at the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Working America AFL-CIO, and Fund for the Public Interest.
Chief Operating Officer
Daonese Johnson-Colón is the Chief Operating Officer at PushBlack. Daonese has 12 years of leadership experience in nonprofit administration and workforce management. She has dedicated her career to building spaces that promote leadership, inclusivity, and equity to foster personal and professional development in education and criminal justice reform. Prior to joining PushBlack, Daonese served as Vice President of Operations/COO for JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA). Daonese is an adjunct lecturer for John Jay College’s Accelerate Complete Engage (ACE) program and faculty mentor for the New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship and Justice Capital Initiative Fellowship.
Chief Content Officer
Lilly Workneh is the Chief Content Officer at PushBlack. As CCO, she oversees the content strategy and creation of compelling stories on Black history, news, and culture. Lilly was previously Editor in Chief of renowned Black news platforms Blavity and Shadow & Act, tripling site-wide traffic through her strategic storytelling expertise. Prior to that, she was the Senior Editor of HuffPost Black Voices where she made a comparable impact. Lilly is a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree and the editor and author of the best-selling young adult book “Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic.”
Chief Of Staff
Richard McDermott is the Chief of Staff at PushBlack. Richard has a wide scope of experience working with and founding startup companies across several industries including health care, information technology (software development, blockchain, AI, etc.), marketing/branding, and architecture, engineering, and construction consulting. Among his roles in the startup sector, Richard has served as chief legal officer, chief financial officer, and business adviser. During his career, Richard also held positions as an investment advisor, obtaining Series 7 (no longer active) and 66 licenses (no longer active) at Morgan Stanley. He then sought work experiences that were more compliance and legal-focused, namely in the banking compliance industry. Richard served as a Senior Compliance Director at NContracts, and most recently, he served as an in-house counsel contracts manager at the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Richard is a licensed attorney in the state of Tennessee, a licensed insurance agent and licensed real estate agent. Richard’s experience extends to the local non-profit sector in Nashville. From 2021 to 2022, he served on the Government Relations Committee for Dismas House, an organization that provides holistic reentry programming that helps to break the cycle of recidivism for formerly incarcerated individuals. His work within his community is furthered through mentorship and becoming a volunteer board member of Dismas House, and coaching athletes to help younger generations attain their goals, and a way to maintain the spirit of youth.
Samaya Abdus-Salaam is the Development Manager at PushBlack. Samaya came to PushBlack with five years of experience in individual giving, supporting grassroots organizations and NGOs, and building relationships with donors in New York City. Prior to joining PushBlack, Samaya was the Development Operations Coordinator at Physicians for Human Rights, an organization that works at the intersection of medicine, science, and law to secure human rights and justice for all. She served as the first-ever Membership Organizer at Riders Alliance, a grassroots organization of subway and bus riders fighting for more affordable, reliable, and sustainable public transit in New York City. Samaya is a 2019 cohort member of the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders In Public Service program at NYU. She received a B.A. in English and double-minor in Cultural Anthropology and African American Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Board of directors
With experiences across four continents, Yordanos Eyoel is an Ethiopian-American democracy entrepreneur who is the Founder and CEO of Keseb. Keseb is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization building an ecosystem for cross-country learning, collaboration and innovation to counter authoritarianism and advance inclusive and resilient democracies. For launching Keseb in 2022, Yordanos was recognized with the “Extraordinary Leader Transforming a Field” award by Unorthodox Philanthropy. Previously, Yordanos was a Managing Partner at New Profit, where she was the first person in the organization’s 22-year history to grow from Portfolio Analyst to Managing Partner. As Managing Partner, she expanded New Profit’s early-stage portfolio by 3x in 4 years, supporting ~100 early-stage organizations, 80% led by people of color. In 2019, Yordanos founded New Profit's Civic Lab, the first nonpartisan venture philanthropy initiative in the U.S. to invest in innovative solutions building civic trust and a strong civic culture in America. Yordanos is a Civil Society Fellow of the ADL & the Aspen Institute and a former Visiting Fellow at the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University. In 2017, Yordanos co-founded and served as the International Spokesperson of the Sister March Network that mobilized over 4 million people for the 2017 Women’s March. Yordanos serves as the Board Chair of PushBlack, the largest nonprofit media organization for Black Americans. Yordanos’ work and writing has been featured in Fast Company, Stanford Social Innovation Review, WBUR/NPR, and We the Possibility by Harvard Business Review, among others. In 2019, Yordanos delivered the TEDx talk "Why Voting isn't Enough" to inspire expansive and on-going civic engagement. Yordanos holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science, Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Florida, where she was inducted into the University Hall of Fame. She also holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School. Yordanos is the 2020 recipient of the City of Boston Spark Impact Award for Activism and Issue Advocacy.
Fran Scarlett is a business strategist, consultant and coach who is passionate about building sustainable entrepreneurial organizations. She is the founder of Scarlett Ink & Associates, a strategy consultancy focused on media. Scarlett has worked with companies of all sizes and has started and operated two publications targeted to women and other underrepresented audiences. She also has worked with entrepreneurial and established companies across multiple industries. Recently she served as chief knowledge officer at the Institute for Nonprofit News, a network of 400+ nonprofit, mostly digital newsrooms where she oversaw the network’s capacity-building programs in revenue generation, business strategy, leadership development and organizational equity. Scarlett is an alum, a coach and faculty member of the Media Transformation Challenge housed at Poynter Institute. She also coached in the Knight-Lenfest Table Stakes program at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Scarlett is also a member of Blue Engine Collaborative, a consortium of consultants and advisors to media companies, startups, foundations, academia, and others, on revenue and audience growth, product development, consumer user experience and digital strategy. Scarlett coaches in the Meta Accelerator program, the Google News Initiative Sponsorship Lab, the Center for Public Broadcasting Digital Transformation Program and Borealis Philanthropy Racial Equity in Journalism program. Scarlett serves on the boards of DREAMS of Wilmington- a youth development through the arts program and the NC Local News Workshop. She is also on the advisory boards of the Pivot Fund and the GNI Global Sustainability Study. She has served on multiple nonprofit boards and is a presenter at industry conferences and workshops across the globe. Scarlett has a B.S. in Mass Communications from Boston University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She is an avid gardener and traveler and has achieved her goal of visiting all seven continents.
Rachel E. Winston is an archivist, curator, and Black memory worker based out of Austin, TX. She is the founding Black Diaspora Archivist at The University of Texas at Austin, and leads the university’s effort to build a special collection documenting the Black experience across the Americas and Caribbean. Rachel is currently a Council Member for the Society of American Archivists, and a Mellon Cultural Heritage Fellow at the Rare Book School. Her recent curatorial work and publications have been featured by the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Complex, the City of Austin, Knowledge Justice: Disrupting Library and Information Studies through Critical Race Theory (2021), and Change is Required: Preparing for the Post-Pandemic Museum (2022). She is an alumna of Davidson College, the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, and The University of Texas at Austin.