DIFFvelopment was born during a monumental period of underemployment and aggressive student loan repayment, directly following the founders’ graduations from some of the world’s top institutions.
“Frustrated with feeling completely unprepared for all of the financial strain we were experiencing post-college, we began to research what we were experiencing and came to find that our situation was representative of a larger endemic issue. This motivated us to begin exploring possible solutions.”
– Esi Kagale Agyeman Gillo, CEO & Co-Founder
As young Black graduates, we started DIFFvelopment because we could not believe that after earning undergraduate and masters’ degrees from some of the top academic institutions in the world, we faced so many unforeseen employment and economic challenges. As perfectionists who pride ourselves on excelling, it was devastating to feel so behind in the race to attain commensurate employment, achieve financial security and simply do what we wanted to do without having to sacrifice so much every step of the way. It became clear to us that even with education, the legacies of slavery and colonialism that ensnare the Black race still play a major role in dictating our quality of life and ultimately what we are able to accomplish.
Our shared experiences of underemployment and unemployment, motivated us to explore the core causes of the issues we faced and develop programming that would prepare Black college students for Black life after college in a way that has the potential to shift the trajectory of Black economics and cycles of Black powerlessness for generations to come.
We envision a world where Black people know their history and view themselves as part of a collective global community that is empowered and responsible for identifying, defining and solving its own socioeconomic issues through visionary entrepreneurship, wealth building and philanthropy.
Esi Kagale Agyeman Gillo
CEO & Co-Founder
Esi Kagale Agyeman Gillo is committed to re-empowering the global Black community by holistically empowering aspiring Black visionaries to disrupt negative patterns of history through personal development and entrepreneurship. If she had to describe herself in one sentence, she would say that she “is passionate about all things authentic and puts nothing above her freedom.” Esi holds an MSc in African Studies from the University of Oxford, UK, a BA in Afro-American Studies and Psychology from Smith College, and a certificate in African Studies from the Five College Consortium. She has also studied in Uganda, Rwanda and Ghana.
Peter Markeeo Gillo
CEO & Co-Founder
Leveraging his passion for the use of creativity in all aspects of life, Peter Markeeo Gillo finds great joy in supporting aspiring Black visionaries as they dig deep to develop their own unique spheres of meaning within the global Black community. He holds an MA in Social, Policy and Community Development, Regional Planning from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a BA in Political Science and Sociology from Clark Atlanta University, and a certificate in International Political Systems and Development from Nanjing, China. He is also a life member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Alexandra is a 2018 Consultrepreneurship alum and veteran DIFFvelopment volunteer. She joined the team as the Executive Assistant over the summer and we couldn’t be more thrilled to entrust our most sensitive processes and responsibilities to someone who has firsthand experience with our flagship program.
Alice Wanjiku Gitau
Director of Programs
Alice initially came to DIFFvelopment as a volunteer who was looking to put her passion for the empowerment of African people around the world to good use. Leveraging her expertise in hospitality and dynamic project management to build much-needed technical programmatic systems and outreach strategies, Alice quickly became a crucial member of our team. As the Director of Programs, she oversees all of DIFFvelopment’s partnerships, programs and data management, supports our grants application process, and is responsible for delivering the consulting component of our 10-week summer internship program.
Nneke Lumengo Baye
Lumengo has nearly 20 years of administrative and managerial experience spanning the financial, retail, hospitality and education industries. Within the field of education, Lumengo has supported underserved youth, providing them with supplemental learning opportunities in majority Black-serving public school systems such as Newark, NJ. As DIFFvelopment’s Programs Administrator, Lumengo is responsible for program-related onboarding, delivery and expansion strategy.
Digital Marketing Manager
Anthony is a 2019 Consultrepreneurship alum. He joined the team as an Alumni Relations volunteer and soon transitioned into his current role as our Digital Marketing Manager. His experience with visual design and firsthand experience with the Consultrepreneurship program made him a great fit for the position and we couldn’t be more excited to have him on the team.
Imani is a faithful (filled) daughter, friend, coach, and global and civic servant. She is the Principal Owner of Faith Forward LLC, where she leverages the essence of faith to coach and consult faith-increasing social impact leaders in the areas of personal and professional development, community engagement and diversity, equity and inclusion. She is currently the founding Programs Director for Faith & Prejudice, a movement seeking to unite the Church across races and denominations to confront and dismantle systemic racism in America. She obtained a BA in Social Psychology from Smith College, MS in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from The New School, graduate certificate in Social Entrepreneurship from SUNY Empire State and certificates in Women’s Entrepreneurship & Financial Management through Cornell University. She is an ICF certified ACC with training in Personal Development and Executive Coaching from the Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute™️.
- Programs Director, Faith & Prejudice
- Principal, Faith Forward LLC
- Former Knowledge Management Program Officer, LISC
DuWayne D. Harrison
DuWayne is a leader in PwC’s Cloud and Digital practice with over 27 years of int’l technology and cross functional leadership experience that spans management, IT, and operations for financial services, healthcare, enterprise solutions, pharmaceutical, government, nonprofit, and education clients. He has played a key role in helping senior business and technology executives understand the best ways to use existing and emerging technologies to run their enterprises, accelerate growth, and ultimately deliver greater business value to their customers. DuWayne has been a frequent speaker at industry conferences & world forums and won numerous awards.
- Director, PricewaterhouseCooper LLP
Courtney Stewart St. James Grant
Courtney is a London-born technology leader, entrepreneur and investor. He has a variety of perspectives, from raising over $25m from Silicon Valley’s leading investors to helping the largest financial services and insurance companies raise more than $10bn in public debt and equity. In the early stage of his finance career, Courtney founded Route2Finance, a platform aimed at helping students find their way into investment banking. He has always inherently wanted to help those who are coming after him. Courtney looks forward to sharing the experiences, lessons and best practices he has received over the last 10+ years with the next generation of entrepreneurs. He is currently the Finance and Ops Lead at Polywork, a technology company based out of New York, helping to shape the future of work.
- Chief Financial Officer, Kalo
- Finance and Ops Lead, Polywork
Theresa Adeliyi, M.D.
Theresa is a mother, daughter, physician, sister, and friend. All of her lived experiences and the milestones she has accomplished are a testament to her strong belief in the collective power of education, opportunity and community. She stands on the shoulders of her “village,” knowing that without them, she couldn’t be a mother while becoming a physician. Theresa also prides herself in being a learner, a teacher, and an advocate. She describes education as the “thread through which [her] successes in life and relationships have prospered” and believes strongly that education, especially in relation to the youth, is an integral part of what will enable Black people to achieve the goal of health, social and economic equality. This sentiment is what makes her so passionate about participating in any, and all, opportunities that seek to advance her community’s human condition.
- Medical Director, Virtua Voorhees Hospital
Jovan considers himself to be somewhat of a renaissance man. As an entrepreneur with many talents, he believes one must have a varied skill set in order to be successful. Jovan has been fortunate to have great role models throughout his career and is excited to add DIFFvelopment to the list of dynamic community arenas through which he pays it forward.
- Owner & Head Trainer, Olympia Strength
- Owner & CEO, Esculent Solutions
- Creator & Owner, CHiFit
- Certified Endurance Instructor, Pioneer Valley CrossFit
- Former Executive Sous Chef, Blue Heron Restaurant
- Former Owner, UNITE Footwear and Apparel
Jacqueline is a senior communications professional who prides herself on advocating for unheard voices. She has worked in progressive comms spaces for 15 years and was a contributing writer for Adobe’s 99U, Adobe Create Magazine, i-D Magazine, and OkayAfrica, covering the intersection of arts and social justice. A few highlights include interviewing former-president Barack Obama’s Chief White House photographer, Pete Souza, and home décor small business owner, Nasozi Kakembo. Jacqueline’s distinctive approach has resulted in broadcast and print coverage that includes op-eds and interviews in The New York Times, ABC’s Nightline News, CBS Sunday Morning, CNN.com International, PBS NewsHour, Newsweek, NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Code Switch,” ESSENCE Magazine, HOW Magazine, and Advocate.com.
She has spoken about communications, storytelling, and the intersection of arts and business at the World Bank, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Creative Colony, Adobe MAX, Maryland Women’s Business Center, and the U.S. Small Business Administration. Jacqueline has provided strategic media support to She the People, Living Cities, Abigail E. Disney, and National Black Justice Coalition. She is a proud graduate of University of Maryland and is a 2017 alumna of THREAD at Yale: Storytelling in Modern Media. She also serves as a NAACP Parents’ Council Representative at her sons’ elementary school.
- Founder, Mpact PR, LLC
Arinze Onugha, Esq.
Arinze N. Onugha serves as special counsel at Fried Frank, resident in its New York office. As a member of Fried Frank’s Corporate Department, Arinze’s practice focuses on asset management, assisting sponsors in the structure and formation of private equity funds and other alternative investment vehicles. His experience also includes representing regulated fund-of-funds, family offices and other institutional investors in connection with their primary and secondary investments in domestic and offshore buyout, real estate, venture capital, structured equity and other private investment funds.
Arinze has been recognized by the Jackie Robinson Foundation as one of its 42 Under 40 Distinguished Jackie Robinson Scholar Alumni and was selected by the National Bar Association’s “Top 40 Under 40 – Nation’s Best Advocates” (2021-2022 class). Through charitable organizations, Arinze assists students from underrepresented communities in learning business law concepts. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in entrepreneurial management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, followed by a Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law.
- Special Counsel, Fried Frank
- Former Partner, Sullivan & Worcester
- Real Estate Investor
Adetokunbo Oludaré Thompson
A sales professional, entrepreneur and leader, Adetokunbo Oludaré Thompson, also known as Daré, is headstrong and focused on making a difference in urban communities. Daré aims to educate others on their unique gifts that they have yet to discover. With his life experiences and triumphant anecdotes, Daré aspires to ignite the flame of success within all individuals.
- Account Executive: Researcher Solutions, Cayuse
- Former Account Executive, PatientPop
- Former COO & Brand Manager, Covered By God Clothing