We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Dr. Matthew C. Whitaker a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Dr. Whitaker, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Let’s start with a story that highlights an important way in which your brand diverges from the industry standard.
We are particularly skilled at communicating comfortably and effectively with people from many walks of life. We are deeply authentic, and dedicated to leveraging difference–ideological, leadership and learning styles, region, race, class, gender, faith, sexual orientation, and national origin–to forge and advance cohesion cultures of belonging and excellence. Unlike the stewards of most justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) firms, I am a professional historian and social scientist. Since history is the foundation of all knowledge, I, as a social historian, am uniquely empowered to help harness information, develop knowledge, assess JEDI in various environs, facilitate masterplanning, and facilitate experiential learning opportunities by providing the necessary context for the challenges we face. “All history is a current event,” and my knowledge of our social past and present, helps me bridge the gaps in ways that others cannot. Diamond Strategies boasts a unique convergence of historical, sociological, therapeutic, and clinical expertise. I founded Diamond Strategies, L.L.C. to operationalize what I had long done in my writings, classrooms, speeches and service to the business, non-profit, and municipal worlds: using my unique sociological and historical training, and the educational and clinical expertise of my family and friends, who are now my team members, to help organizations and individuals learn and leverage our diverse past and present to promote healing, social cohesion, productivity, and profitability.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I am the Founder and CEO of Diamond Strategies, LLC., a Better Business Bureau A+ rated, NSDMC certified minority business enterprise (MBE), and trend-setting justice, equity, diversity, inclusion JEDI) and community relations firm, that has partnered with Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, faith-based institutions, and government. Diamond Strategies won the 2022 Best of Tempe Consultant Award (City of Tempe, Arizona). I am also an award-winning educator, author, community engagement specialist, motivational speaker, and founder of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, winner of the 2014 Arizona Diversity Leadership Alliance (DLA) Inclusive Workplace Award, at Arizona State University, where I was a professor of history for 15 years. I earned a Ph.D. in History, with honors, at Michigan State University, and recently completed an Executive Certification Program in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Cornell University. I was given DLA’s 2016 Diversity and Inclusion Leader Award, and the Arizona Collectors 2020 Frederick Douglass Social Justice Award. I specializes in U.S. history, African American history and life, civil rights, race relations, social movements, diversity, equity, and inclusion. I have edited three books, including Hurricane Katrina: America’s Unnatural Disaster, and I am the author of Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West. I have also authored award-winning articles, penned over 40 opinion pieces, and am currently completing a memoir entitled The Undisputed Truth: A Revolutionary Journey to Black Manhood. I have consulted, spoken, and lectured in Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, England, Ghana, and Ireland. Has been featured on CNN, NPR, PBS, WVON, KEMET, and was given ASU’s 2015 Pioneer Award for working to improve African American life, community and culture. I am also a co-founder of the Healing Racism Public Dialogue Series, winner of the 2008 National League of Cities Promoting Inclusive Award, and he was given the City of Phoenix 2006 Martin Luther King, Jr. Living the Dream Award. I am a trustee of the New Life Center of Arizona, and a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Community Advisory Board.
How did you put together the initial capital you needed to start your business?
My wife and seeded our enterprise with our own savings, and in my case, retirement funds. Many people cautioned me against doing the latter, but I firmly believed that if I was not prepared to sacrifice and take on substantial risk in creating Diamond Strategies, I could not expect potential funders and partners to believe in and support us in the future. Frederick Douglass told us “there is no progress without struggle.” I have always preached this and I believed that I needed to practice this too. We also wanted complete and utter control of Diamond Strategies’ mission, purpose, values, and strategic direction. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone, especially in the business world, so we wanted to “go all in,” and fail or succeed based upon our vision and work. We remain pleased with our choice and the result.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
When the Coronavirus pandemic overtook the U.S. in the beginning of 2020, almost all of our clients cut their procurement and consulting budgets drastically. Our revenue came to a screeching halt and we quickly found ourselves in financial trouble. We briefly considered shuttering the business and pursuing other opportunities. We quickly gathered and humbled ourselves, and sought help from trusted friends and associates. Those lenders helped us survived the storm. We paid them back and have emerged stronger than ever. We made the decision that giving up was not an option. We were forced to find a way, and that way included asking and receiving help. No one makes it on their own. Being “self-made” is a fallacy generated by ego.
- Website: https://www.dstrategiesllc.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dstrategiesllc/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dstrategiesllc/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/diamond-strategies-llc-diversity-&-inclusion-consultants/?viewAsMember=true
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/dstrategiesllc
- Other: https://vimeo.com/254145469
Intrinsic Photography Luis Colon Photography Matthew C. Whitaker, Ph.D.