Bringing an intentional mindset to the boardroom

How are boards of directors of major companies coping in 2021 with the increasing expectations from so many stakeholders? How are boards equipping themselves to meet the challenge of overseeing large global organizations? In this episode of the Principled Podcast, Marsha Ershaghi Hames, Partner at Tapestry Networks, guest hosts a conversation about the critical role boards play in shaping ethical corporate culture with Don Cornwell, an accomplished corporate leader who currently sits on the boards of AIG, Natura & Company, and Viatris. Listen in as Marsha and Don talk about the importance of intention when making decisions at the board level—especially as it relates to diversity, mentor sponsorship, and professional guidance.

[1:28] Guest Don Cornwell’s diverse background and pioneering career journey.

[3:25] Where are we now in terms of diversity on Wall Street?

[9:22] Where is the U.S. going wrong in terms of maximizing capital and production?

[13:12] How can boards and corporate leaders take the first steps to open doors and drive intentional sponsorships while navigating DEI?

[21:08] How can boards begin to transform their own culture?

[26:09] How boards can take action to cultivate ethical culture given the context of these times.

 

Additional Resources:

Article:  Father and Son Investment Bankers Describe Wall Street Regrets [Note: Subscription required]

Intro: Welcome to the Principal podcast brought to you by LRN. The principal podcast brings together the collective wisdom on ethics, business and compliance, transformative stories of leadership, and inspiring workplace culture. Listen in to discover valuable strategies from our community of business leaders and workplace change makers.

Marsha Ershaghi Hames: How are boards of directors of major companies coping in 2021 with the increasing expectations from so many stakeholders? How are boards equipping themselves to meet the challenge of overseeing large global organizations? Hello, and welcome to another special episode of the Principled podcast, where we continue our conversations about the critical role boards in shaping ethical corporate culture. I'm your guest host, Marsha Ershaghi Hames, a partner at Tapestry Networks. And today, I'm pleased to be joined by Don Cornwell, an accomplished corporate leader who currently sits on the boards of AIG, Natura & Company, and Viatris. Don, thank you for coming on the Principled podcast.

Don Cornwell: Marsha, thanks for the invitation. I look forward to our conversation.

Marsha Ershaghi Hames: Excellent. So Don, let's share with listeners a little bit. You've had a very unique background from your early career at Goldman Sachs to founding and leading Granite Broadcasting, which at its peak, was the largest African American-controlled television broadcasting con in America. You've continued to lead a distinguished career of service on both corporate and nonprofit boards. Could you tell our listeners just a little bit more about your amazing journey?

Don Cornwell: Well, I've done a lot of moving around for a kid who was born in segregated Oklahoma in 1948. My family moved to the Pacific Northwest when I was five, so they could frankly continue their careers as educators. And so I lived in Tacoma, Washington, until I graduated high school in 1965, then left to attend Occidental College in Los Angeles, followed immediately by a move to Boston to attend Harvard Business School. And from there, often New York to join a considerably smaller Goldman Sachs. As you know, I left Goldman Sachs in 1988 after 17 years. I started a business, you've referenced it, Granite Broadcasting Corporation, and we built that for 20 years. And then I left the company and essentially went into so-called retirement, which I've failed at miserably and have continued to serve on corporate boards. You didn't mention, I have to mention, Pfizer and Avon and CVS. I've been very proud of my association with all three of those companies. So I wouldn't want to pass that.

Marsha Ershaghi Hames: Well, you mentioned your journey with Goldman Sachs. You had joined their investment banking department in the early '70s. And I actually was reflecting on that fantastic interview with Bloomberg, the profile with you and your son last year. Your story is very pioneering for African Americans working on Wall Street. As you look back on that experience, what are some of your observations on diversity on Wall Street, and essentially the being the only one in the room? Has there really been progress?

Don Cornwell: So I did the interview, the Bloomberg interview with my son, because I thought it provided a context of experience by African American professionals over a significant period of time. I started at Goldman Sachs in 1971 and he joined, I should say, after I graduated from Harvard Business School. And he joined Morgan Stanley in 1998 after he graduated from Stanford Business School.

I am shameless about promoting the article. So if any of your listeners have an interest, they should check it out. On your question, so I would say the industry is making what I call directionally correct movement. That's a good thing, but I guess I'm at an age in life where I can say that I think the progress is too slow and I think it's not deep enough. And so in making that comment, I can point to some really terrific success stories at various financial firms. And by financial firms, I'm incorporating everything from banks and insurance companies to the typical Wall Street firms that you think about.

But in thinking about those success stories, I'm hard pressed to find what I would call an adequate pipeline of aspiring and qualified young professionals available for the succession planning of the future. I've found, in my career, that when you build a pipeline, and that's something that Pfizer talks about a lot, but when you build a pipeline of talent, the issues that we're discussing become somewhat moot. However, when you don't have a pool of talent, you then find yourself scrambling to, and I put quotes around the word "improve," from a very unimpressive baseline.

And frankly, in this day and age, that does not go unnoticed by shareholders, and stakeholders, and society. So I guess I would give the industry a mixed grade. I think it's getting better. I think that there's some great success stories that I read about and know about, but much more work to be done.

Marsha Ershaghi Hames: Speaking of that, I actually read another article or a derivative article. And I read a quote here that said "Wall Street has a problem with black excellence." And most super successful people on Wall Street are just excellent at what they do and how they got there. However, when someone is excellent as an African American, it is not embraced. How does that sort of land with you or resonate with you?

Don Cornwell: Well, it's an interesting observation. I don't know where it comes from. I think I would sort of turn it just a little bit to say that I felt, in my time, that the process of growing in a career, no matter who you are, requires an effect. What I would describe as someone who intentionally wants to see success. So the observation, to be candid that I've made about the financial community, I think, is a problem across industry and the country. I think we simply have not done enough to hire, encourage and retain young people of color, or women, in general industry. 

I think that we leave a lot of talent behind. We're getting better, but we leave a lot of talent behind. So when I talk about, I have a theme of being intentional about a success experience, I can certainly say that each and every one of the success stories that get spoken about a lot, people like Ken Chenault that Ken Frazier, just to name a few, and I can name many, many others, that they can point to those moments in their careers where they were given a helping nudge along the way.

And so I'm sort of simple minded about it, which is that if people in power want to see success in that regard, they have to be intentional about it. It has to be something that's on their mind. They have to insist on it. And quite frankly, when decisions, tough decisions. Have to be made as to whether somebody's performing or not, they have to be willing and not afraid to call it. Because as I said, everybody isn't going to make the cut, but it's great if people can feel comfortable that they have that opportunity.

In the Bloomberg interview, and I hope you don't mind my going on at lengthy here a little bit, but this is one of my favorite topics. I spoke about intentional sponsorship. That's my theme. And I spoke about it in context of senior managers. I read, referenced a fellow that I called my very best boss ever. He has unfortunately passed away. His widow read the interview and called me and was quite amazed at how I felt about this. And I think she understood things that I had said to her over the years about how important he had been to my life and my family's life in terms of my own success.

So I always say that during that eight year period, when I had his sponsorship within Goldman Sachs, and by the way, he wasn't necessarily a great guy. I've had people contact me after the interview and say, "Well, he wasn't very nice to me." And so I get that, but I do know that once he asked me to join his team, then I became part of the team and he became my advocate. And that was the best period of my career at Goldman Sachs.

And quite frankly, my worst periods were when I didn't have that guidance. I think, and I hope you'll let me go on just a little bit longer, but I think that as a country, we're not maximizing our human capital. We see that every day as we work our way through the pandemic. I mean, think about it. Human capital, with a bit of help from our global partners, came up with multiple ways to stop the coronavirus. Okay. I mean, that's amazing if you think about it. I mean, we're all somewhat concerned these days about the continuation of variants and issues about whether you get a boost, et cetera. But the facts are is that we found a way, in a very, very short period of time, to bring a halt to this really vicious virus. And so that's the wonder.

On the other hand, we are also picking up the newspaper and learning that we are short of people to do the most basic jobs, as well as, quite frankly, many of those requiring much more in the way of skills. As a country, I think we've given up on our public education system. It used to be an advantage for us. We spend a lot of time bashing teachers and so forth, and fighting about the curriculum and so forth.

We're resisting efforts to train people. We need the labor, but we don't want the cheap labor coming across the border, even though we don't necessarily have the labor to fill many of those jobs. And I'm going to be a little controversial in my next comment, and you guys can edit this out if you want. But I have long said that the country long benefited from structural inequity/ if you think about the quality of teachers we had many, many years ago, when one of the best jobs available to a bright woman or a person of color was as a teacher. And I used my mom as an example, she finished first in her class in college in 1942. There were no corporations or financial institutions on her campus aggressively recruiting, particularly at an HBCU.

And so society benefited because you had this class of individuals who were largely directed into a profession that was the best available to them, and we're indebted to them, but that's changing. And without getting into the debate about teachers, and quality, and what have you, that's changing. And that's a debate for another day, but it goes back to my opening comment, which was that we're not spending enough time maximizing human capital. And I think that's a problem. And it ties back to DEI. It ties back to ESG. It ties back to a lot of things that we might talk about. So I'll pause there. I know I'm talking too long.

Marsha Ershaghi Hames: No. Yeah. So first of all, Don, I mean, you are touching on some very, very timely issues that, I mean, companies are exploring ways to essentially future proof talent models that clearly we've got an inequity, as you say, of infrastructure and how organizations go to recruit and build their pipeline. So when I sometimes hear the comments of, "There isn't a pipeline," or "We are not able to build a pipeline." Sometimes, I often think, "Where are you looking?"

And there are some organizations today that are starting to try to build bridge around skill mobility, bridges into minority serving institutions. You mentioned HBCUs. But to go and to build recruitment pipelines to offer opportunities in other types of fields that may not have been historically or traditionally built into that recruitment infrastructure. So you're really touching on an important point that we probably should set up another conversation to unpack acutely.

However, you earlier also mentioned this kind of societal shift that's a lot of pressure from company consumers, and stakeholders, and investors on companies to take more responsibility. And I like how you share your reflection on that intentional sponsorship by this mentor in your life. I am wondering, in the area that you sit today from your vantage point, how can boards, how can corporate leaders take those first steps to, whether it's mentorship programs, or to be more prescriptive or surgical in driving this notion of, "We need to open doors. We need to find ways to design more intentional sponsorship."

Are these conversations happening within the board? Because I know, again, this is unique to your story. And I've heard other similar stories where it was that one mentor or sponsor who took them under their wing and just offered the difficult, often difficult guidance, to chart out the path. But how can we do more of that? Because clearly, the pressure's there for companies to take responsibility, but it's the how part, it's the pragmatic. What are the steps to activate that? What are your thoughts on that and what are you hearing or observing from where you sit today?

Don Cornwell: So I think every board room where I have the honor of residing, the topics on the table, the topic is one of discussion and there's work being done and reporting out on the topic. So I think it's on the agenda. I'm not sure, from my perspective, whether corporate boards today really recognize that these societal forces that we think about, how powerful those items are for the future, that we get very caught up in a variety of other topics, which are also very, very important.

And I'm sure you'll ask me about a few of those at some point here. But I do think that, and to some degree, this kind of gets to one of the notions that I have about the composition of boards, which is the notion that we actually need more people in the room with not only courage to ask tough questions, but also a wider lens in many instances, because I'm not sure that we're really necessarily seeing what's coming at us from a lot of different angles.

If I can go back to the comments I made about diversity and inclusion, and a little bit ESG that you had asked about that, I really think these are societal forces that are starting, whether we want it to or not, to drive the corporate board agenda. So just a couple of thoughts. Can you imagine what the board discussions in Facebook are like these days? Or if you've been following Netflix. Could be a more successful company, quite frankly than either of them. All right.

I mean, Facebook was founded... My daughter is 36 now, and she's a 2007 graduate of college. And I remember when she was a freshman, she and all of her friends were talking about whether or not they would sign up for Facebook, which had only been started maybe two years before they were to be freshmen. And Facebook's the bad people, there's all kinds of negative things being said about Facebook, but just look at the corporate and business success or Netflix. I mean, my God. How many times did I find the little red envelopes around my house that had never been returned? And talk about a success story.

But what are they talking about at those boards? They're talking about all the issues that here on cable television 24/7. At Netflix, you're talking about comedian who has decided to be less than politically correct in the way he talks about things. And so that raises all kinds of challenges about speech and what's appropriate. But then you move from that and you've got, [inaudible 00:16:55] Exxon. My God, what could be more... There it is, Exxon. And you literally have activists find a way with major shareholders to challenge their corporate strategy. And it's front and center around climate and sustainability. What are you doing? And they end up changing out board members.

And then there's one that you may or may not have heard of, but I pay a lot of attention because of my history in the broadcast business. It's a company called Tegna, which is essentially the old Gannett company's television station group, which is quite a large group. And they have been under attack for three years by a very, very sophisticated activist shareholder. And his primary focus, his primary focus has been on the treatment of people and particularly the treatment of people of color within the company. And it's been kind of a fascinating thing to watch. The corporate, the board has succeeded in being reelected each year, but the noise gets louder and louder. And at the current time, that activist has now joined forces with one of the major private equity firms and has made it an offer to who buy the company.

And so that board is very much under siege. And so I see these forces from society demanding a seat at the table. And quite frankly, these are not the topics that are ever at all candor on the agenda in most instances. You get me started on this, so I apologize, but you think about the tensions that corporations are having to navigate as between national and global interest. Anybody that's doing business in China, those of us who deal with compliance, and risk, and what have you, we spend all of our time thinking about China as a compliance issue. But you've got geopolitical stuff there. I mean, don't go to China and start talking about your great relations in Taiwan. And they've got their views about data privacy. And quite frankly, beyond China, just across the globe, there are views about that.

And so that's my way of saying that boards are being forced by the outside world to think about stuff, including the issues... DEI is not just a, "Oh, we got to check that box." Okay. In my opinion, it's part and parcel of so much that's going on out there that boards are having to deal with. Then, of course, we've got to deal with cyber. I mean cyber's going to destroy us if we're not careful. Compliance and ethics is an amazingly significant issue. If you saw yesterday that the whistleblower in the LIBOR scandal is getting a $200 million payout. That's going to motivate a few people.

And then I always finally point out, and by the way, we're hopefully coming out of a pandemic and we're going to be worrying about organizational culture, given that most of us have spent two years working remotely, and we got to figure out how to get back together again. So longwinded answer to your question and hopefully a little bit helpful.

Marsha Ershaghi Hames: Yeah, no, no, very helpful. And I'm glad you've touched upon what we're witnessing in terms of this societal shift and the increased pressure from investors, regulators, employees, other stakeholders, just the demands on companies to show progress. Business resiliency, environmental climate transaction plans. And then, of course, there's no question in terms of not only human capital. And I don't really like the phrase human capital. Or natural capital sometimes is also on the climate stuff, but it's really our people, our talent and the innovations and the diversity of how they bring ideas to the table, can really transform and create a certain agility to business progressing. And as this is continuing to capture the board and corporate leaders' attention, I like the phrase when you said boards really are starting to get forced to think differently.

And I want to unpack that a little bit. So you touched on culture. I want to start with this notion of transforming board culture. And you mentioned earlier having the courage on the agenda to maybe ask more difficult questions. But how can boards, or you have had such a distinguished career, both as an executive and on serving boards. How can boards really start to begin to transform their own culture? Before boards can take the step for oversight of culture within the organization, how do they turn the mirror back and reflect on themselves and take the steps to really help cultivate a transformation within their own board culture?

Don Cornwell: Yeah. I'm probably more of a pessimist in all these things than many. And I don't know if that's helpful or unhelpful. My experience has been that crisis tends to drive focus, and we all get very comfortable doing what we do. We do it every meeting, whether it's four meetings a year or 10 meetings a year, whatever the case may be. And then it's when all of a sudden, we get something that comes in, sort of a curve ball that we're forced to try to get smarter. And so my best board experiences have been in situations where there is what I would describe as intentional diversity of voice around the table. And diversity has always thought about it from the context of gender, and ethnicity, and what have you. And I think those are very much part of it, but I also think that diversity of voice in terms of experiences and worldview is just so important.

I have found that when you have that... So you have to start with the notion that you are not going to figure it all out, okay? That bad stuff will happen. And so you want to be prepared to react, but then you should spend time, not only trying to figure out the root cause... But I guess I think it was Andrew Grove, the guy who founded Intel. He had a book called Only the Paranoid Survive. And I've always found that to be, at least that my business experience, just so true. That there's a need to constantly scan the horizon, looking for what's coming over the hill, that you could just not imagine. And so I think that best boards are trying to find ways to empower the management teams, to scan the horizon, to think about risk, think about the unimaginable, think about what you do when the unimaginable happens.

That's, I guess, my belief about it. I know a lot of people think that a lot of it has to do with the books and records and the control and so forth. And it certainly does, but I will tell you that I can go back and look at scandal after of scandal and crisis after crisis. And you discover that all that stuff that I just described, the books and records and stuff all seemed totally fine until you discovered that something else was going on that was much more difficult.

And so I'm a big believer in trying to inject a bit of imagination, creativity, energy, new ideas, new perspectives in the boards. I'm a believer in having boards that have some longevity and some experience. I enjoyed, in my long career on the Pfizer board, ultimately being the one that the new directors would turn to and say, "Don, why did we do that?" Okay. And there was great value to that, but it was also time for me to go. And that I'm pleased to say that one of the people that was recruited in the context, not to replace me, but in the context of my leaving, Scott Gottlieb. Scott and I had gotten each other in a year of overlap, and anybody who's watched television, he's a very, very bright young person.

And I just think that people who come to the party with different sorts of experiences can just bring so much to a board. And I urge boards to do that. I think some are trying hard. I think some are still, in my honest opinion, still checking boxes that satisfy the New York Stock Exchange, or some perceived notion of best practices, and not necessarily bringing enough wisdom and perspective to the boardroom table that can hopefully help management as they try to navigate their way through increasingly difficult times. So I'm talking too long. I'm going to stop there.

Marsha Ershaghi Hames: No, then you're actually spot on, Don. I mean, when you say "Crisis tends to drive focus," I mean, and clearly you're drawing from, you've served on boards of so many highly regulated industries. You mentioned Pfizer, you've got pharma, you've got finance services and so forth. Tell me, when there is crisis, when there are ethical lapses, what role can boards do, especially in these times with these shifts that we're discussing in society? How can they really take action to cultivate ethical culture in the organization? What are the steps they can take there?

Don Cornwell: So I don't want to get too specific, but I lived through one with one of my former boards, where the company ended up making a settlement with the government and writing a very, very large check to compensate for all sorts of perceived and admitted sins. I think that out of that, both management and the company clearly recognized that this had been an issue and that we needed to figure out how to do better. But the focus, which I greatly appreciated, and I had a little bit to do with leading, though lots of others were leading the charge, the focus had to do more with root cause, and how do we get there? What could we do to change? How could we make sure that the organization knew that that certain behavior was not part of what that company wanted to convey to the outside world?

So that really became a major investment of time and resources on the part of the company and with regular reporting to the right committees, audit, and regulatory and compliance, and then ultimately, to the board, about just what was being done, not only to prevent a repeat of what had happened, but also to what was being done to make sure that, within the culture, everybody sort of knew what was expected? And to be candid, it was made a lot easier because the CEO was not, in any way, either conflicted or hesitant. Very strong views on the issue. And quite frankly, personally, very embarrassed by what had happened. So that's what I call, what do you do afterwards? And so you deal with it. I mean, we did the usual stuff of figuring out who needed to be appropriately treated, fired, terminated, remediated, what have you. We went through all that.

But I think that the bigger learning, I think, for this company, and very much into it as I was leaving the board and I'm very much hoping that that will continue to be the case, was really what I would describe as, "So let's scan the horizon. Let's figure out how to identify the next issues and see if we can get ahead of it." And I mean, they literally formed a... I guess I hate to call it a committee, but I guess it's a committee, that on a regular basis, was effectively reviewing, within this particular part of their business, sales practices and new developments, et cetera, and looking at where there might be issues, my contribution, which I think they followed, was to find the person in their organization that nobody tended to like, who was not afraid to say, "But, sounds good, but..."

And to empower them to find ways to reward the person for bringing an independent and a challenging viewpoint. That's hard in organizations. I don't know how well they did with that. I think they did some of it, but the point is that you're trying to be ahead of it. You're trying to recognize that bad stuff happens. That you can talk to the cows come home, but bad stuff happens and it will happen. And people for either evil reasons or innocent reasons sometimes go over the line, go where they shouldn't go. You just have to recognize that that's going to be the case.

From a board perspective, I always took the position you have to recognize that. You have to make sure managers know that bad news can be delivered safely, that you're not going to all of a sudden have the hanging party go out because someone came in and told the audit committee that there had been an issue, but that what you really wanted was, "So how do we find this out? What are we doing about it? What do we think the causes were? What can we do better?" And then you go through the checklist.

So again, not sure if I responded to your question, but I do think that boards are having to organize themselves around these challenges. And in my opinion, there are no right answers. There's no exact answer to any of it, which is why I always argue that you got to talk about it a lot. You got to recognize that sometimes the agenda of that's laid out isn't necessarily the agenda that you really need to be focusing on, and at least have some discussion about that, so that the person who might have a different idea can feel empowered to bring that idea up. Anyway, I'm going to stop there.

Marsha Ershaghi Hames: You're hitting really excellent points. I feel like we could continue this for

a good another hour because culture in and of itself, it's so elusive. And to your point, there's the agenda. And then there's the fuzzy noise. And how do we extract that clear focus? And while, so glad you said this, bad stuff happens, it'll continue to happen and crisis continues to unfold.

However, I think it's, how do organizations take a step back and try to see, what are the lessons that we can learn? How can we be a little bit more acutely aware to try to identify these signals early? And how do we really foster a culture where management is also comfortable coming in and escalating, or bringing these to our attention sooner? Or what are the challenging questions we can ask of management to try to uncover these issues sooner?

So it's sort of a mutual dialogue here, but clearly, Don, this is a conversation we could probably continue to have, but we're reaching the end of our time. And I have learned so much from you. I feel like I was intentionally sponsored today. So many new ideas are sparked in my head. So thank you so much for sharing your time and for joining us on this episode today. And I want to say to our listeners, this was a real special treat. We're just so thrilled to have Don share his reflections and experiences here. And I'm Marsha Ershaghi Hames. With gratitude for tuning in to the Principled podcast from LRN, and I'm going to sign off. Thank you.

Outro: We hope you enjoyed this episode. The Principled podcast is brought to you by LRN. At LRN, our mission is to who inspire principled performance in global organizations, by helping them foster winning, ethical cultures rooted in sustainable values. Please visit us at lrn.com to learn more. And if you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And don't forget to leave us a review.

Episode Card - Don 1

 

W. Don Cornwell

Don Cornwell retired as chair and CEO of Granite Broadcasting Corporation in 2009, a company he founded in 1988. Granite developed from an entrepreneurial idea into a diverse company operating 23 channels in nine television markets and became one of the nation’s 25 largest television station groups.

Previously, Don was employed for 17 years in the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs. While at Goldman Sachs, he was engaged in public and private financing and merger and acquisition transactions for publicly traded and privately-owned companies, with a primary focus on consumer product and media companies. In addition to transaction responsibility, he served as the chief operating officer of the Corporate Finance Department from 1980-1988.

Currently, Don serves on the board of directors of AIG, Inc., Natura Holdings, Viatris Inc. and Blue Meridian Partners, Inc. Don is also a trustee of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of NY. At AIG, he is Chair of the Compensation and Management Resources Committee and a member of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee.

Don served on the boards of Pfizer from 1997 to 2020, Avon from 2002 to 2020, and CVS Caremark Corporation from 1994 until 2007. At Pfizer, he was Chair of the Audit and Regulatory and Compliance Committees and a member of the Nominating and Corporate Governance and Science and Technology Committees. Viatris was created as a public company as a result of a strategic merger of Pfizer’s Upjohn business with Mylan Inc. At Avon, he was Lead Director of the board, Chair of the Finance and Strategic Planning Committee and a member of the Nominating and Governance and Audit Committees. Avon was acquired by Natura in 2020.

Don previously served on the board of Occidental College, the Advisory Council of Harvard Business School, the MS Hershey School and Trust, the Wallace Foundation, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and as Chair of the Board of the Telecommunications Development Fund appointed by the Chairman of the FCC. Don received his BA from Occidental College in 1969 and MBA from Harvard Business School in 1971 and has been honored as Alumnus of the Year by both institutions.

Episode Card - Marsha 1

 

Host

Marsha is a partner with Tapestry Networks and a leader of our corporate governance practice. She advises non-executive directors, C-suite executives, and in-house counsel on issues related to governance, culture transformation, board leadership, and stakeholder engagement.

Prior to joining Tapestry, Marsha was a managing director of strategy and development at LRN, Inc. a global governance, risk and compliance firm. She specialized in the alignment of leaders and organizations for effective corporate governance and organizational culture transformation. Her view is that compliance is no longer merely a legal matter but a strategic and reputational priority. 

Marsha has been interviewed and cited by the media including CNBC, CNN, Ethisphere, HR Magazine, Compliance Week, The FCPA Report, Entrepreneur.com, Chief Learning Officer, ATD Talent & Development, Corporate Counsel Magazine, the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics and more. She hosted the “PRINCIPLED” Podcast, profiling the stories of some of the top transformational leaders in business.

Marsha serves as an expert fellow on USC’s Neely Center for Ethical Leadership and Decision Making and on the advisory boards of LMH Strategies, Inc. an integrative supply chain advisory firm and Compliance.ai, a regulatory change management firm.

Marsha holds an Ed.D. and MA from Pepperdine University. Her research was on the role of ethical leadership as an enabler of organizational culture change. Her BA is from the University of Southern California. She is a certified compliance and ethics professional.

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