The Columbus Urban League’s Empowerment Day is the signature annual event for Central Ohio’s oldest and most successful urban family advocate. The event recognizes and celebrates noteworthy corporations, businesses and individuals who champion the principles of equal opportunity, civil rights and social justice.

Join us for the 42nd Annual Empowerment Day, as we learn and explore ideas on achieving economic mobility with these distinguished guests.


J.D. Vance, Featured Guest

J.D. Vance is an investor, commentator, and author of the #1 NYT Bestselling Hillbilly Elegy, described by the National Review as a “brilliant book” and by the Economist as “one of the most important” reads of 2016.

Raised by his working class grandparents in Middletown, Ohio, J.D. graduated from Middletown High School in 2003 and then immediately enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. During his time in the Marines, he deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

When he finished his four-year enlistment, J.D. moved back to Ohio and enrolled at The Ohio State University, where he studied Political Science and Philosophy, and helped coordinate the university’s bipartisan voter education drive in 2008. After graduating from college, he studied at Yale Law School, where he worked at Yale’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic, providing free legal counsel to veterans of our nation’s wars in Vietnam and Iraq. J.D. earned his law degree in 2013.

After a stint at a large corporate law firm, J.D. moved to San Francisco to work in the technology industry. He serves as a principal at the leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm Mithril Capital, cofounded by Peter Thiel and Ajay Royan. As an investor, JD has taken a special interest in the biotechnology industry and other transformative sectors of the economy. Recently, he joined Revolution LLC as an investment partner, where he will work with Steve Case and the Revolution team on the Rise of the Rest Initiative—a national effort to raise awareness and attract venture capital to undeserved regions of the country.

J.D. continues to lecture and write on topics of public interest. In early 2017, he returned home to Ohio to found “Our Ohio Renewal,” a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the state’s opioid crisis and bringing high-quality employment and educational opportunities to Ohioans.

He regularly discusses politics and public policy on national networks, and has appeared on ABC, CBS, and Fox News. He currently serves as a contributor on CNN. J.D. lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and two dogs, where he works on his nonprofit and investment activities.

Joyce Beatty, Video Feature (Narrator)

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty is serving her second term representing the 3rd Congressional District of Ohio that is wholly contained within Franklin County and represents 29 municipalities including Columbus, Bexley, Whitehall, Reynoldsburg and Gahanna.

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Cara Dingus Brook, Video Feature (Narrator)

Cara Dingus Brook is President & CEO of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio and, in her 10 years at the helm has helped to generate more than $10 million in funding to advance entrepreneurial and educational developments in the region.

Before joining the Foundation, she was the Southeast Ohio District Representative for United States Senator George V. Voinovich and manager of Appalachian Ohio Giving, a multi-sector partnership promoting philanthropy as a community and economic development tool.
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Kevin Boyce, Video Feature (Interview)

Kevin L. Boyce was elected by the voters of Franklin County to serve as commissioner in 2016. Boyce brings experience as a State Representative, State Treasurer for Ohio and Columbus City Councilmember to the board of commissioners. Boyce served as a State Representative for the 25th Ohio House District from May 2012 through 2016.

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Jeff Chaddock, Video Feature (Interview)

Jeff Chaddock is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and head of The Chaddock Group, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services. He and his partner, Mark Morrow, have pledged to leave 97 percent of their estate to an endowment at the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.

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Yolanda Harris, Interviewer

Yolanda Harris is the co-anchor of 10TV’s 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts, having joined the station in July 2017. She has 23 years of broadcasting experience and was most recently the early and late evening anchor at WSYX/WTTE. Harris graduated from Gahanna-Lincoln High School. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism from nearby Bowling Green State University.

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