Board Diversity & Inclusion – An Increasingly Important Issue | Women in the Boardroom

Recorded Webinar

Board Diversity & Inclusion – An Increasingly Important Issue

Board diversity has rapidly advanced from being an aspirational goal, to being a regulatory requirement for many companies, and to being an expectation for all companies where stakeholders outside the board’s inner circle are involved, i.e., shareholders – especially institutional shareholders, employees, customers and communities. And beyond the “optical” considerations there is academic evidence that boardroom diversity is correlated with improved company performance. For these reasons, boards everywhere are taking diversity far more seriously than in the past, and are looking for concrete actions they can take to fulfill this board responsibility.

Our panel of experts will provide valuable information about the changing landscape regarding board diversity, as well as specific steps that boards can take to make improvements.


Howard Brod Brownstein, Mary M. Kleiman, JD, SPHR, SCP, Deb Elam, Pamela G. Marrone, PhD

Date & Time

October 15, 2021
12:00 PM ET


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About the Speakers

Howard Brod Brownstein


Howard Brod Brownstein, CTP, is a nationally-known turnaround and restructuring professional, and regularly provides programs for Women in the Boardroom. He is President of Brownstein Corporation, which provides turnaround management and advisory services, as well as investment banking, fiduciary services, litigation consulting, investigations and valuation services. He regularly serves on the boards of directors of public and private companies, and currently serves on the boards of: P&F Industries (Nasdaq: PFIN) where he chairs the Nominating/Governance and Strategic Planning & Risk Assessment Committees, Renew Financial, where he serves as chair of the Risk Committee, and Merakey, a nonprofit with over 10,000 employees. He is a Certified Turnaround Professional, and also an NACD Board Leadership Fellow and Immediate Past President and Board Chair of the NACD Philadelphia Chapter. He has authored ninety articles and textbook chapters, is a Contributing Editor at two publications, and is a regular guest-lecturer at Harvard Business School, Wharton, NYU and elsewhere. He received JD and MBA degrees at Harvard, and B.S. (Wharton) and B.A. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

Mary M. Kleiman, JD, SPHR, SCP

Principal, MKleiman Corporate Consulting

Mary Kleiman, Principal at MKleiman Corporate Consulting, is a senior executive and corporate lawyer with over 30 years of experience in board governance, regulatory practice, human resources and strategic corporate consulting. Mary has served as SEC Counsel for a Fortune 50 company and as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for a mid-size public company in a highly regulated industry. Mary also spent many years at a mid-size regional law firm, advising both public and private corporate clients across a wide range of industries.

Deb Elam

President & CEO, Corporate Playbook

Deb is the President and CEO of Corporate Playbook™, a company that provides leaders with strategic direction to elevate diversity, inclusion, philanthropy, and culture in the workplace.

Deb was GE’s first-ever black female corporate officer. Her role as Global Chief Diversity Officer placed her in the top 185 of 300,000 employees. In Deb’s decorated thirty-year career at General Electric (GE), she led GE’s philanthropic efforts through the GE Foundation’s $130M budget and GE Volunteers, to tackle some of the world’s most critical challenges across health, education and skill attainment. As a leader and mentor, she oversaw a course for women called Leadership Practices which had an 85% retention rate of participants 5 years later. The course became one of GE’s most highly rated courses. Deb took this a step further with Developing Women Leaders: Synergistic Forces Driving Change. This initiative provided high-potential women with the experience and visibility necessary to become leaders and led to a significant increase in female representation at the leadership level. Deb’s efforts enabled GE to win the prestigious Catalyst award for foremost organizations supporting women’s growth and advancement. 

Deb serves as an independent director at DJE Holdings (Edelman), Lucid and ShotSpotter SSTI (NASDAQ). She is on the board of directors at the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute (NOCHI) and the Louisiana State University Foundation. She was appointed to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment (ACDDE). Deb is also a member of the National Black MBA Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and The Links, Incorporated.

In addition to Corporate Playbook™, Deb created and hosts Dining with Deb™, an innovative dining experience that brings together professional women across racial, religious and political lines to drive meaningful connections and conversations.

Deb has received numerous accolades, including 50 Most Powerful Women in Philanthropy from Inside Philanthropy, Women of Excellence Legacy Award from the National Association for Female Executives, and Women of Power Award from the National Urban League.

Pamela G. Marrone, PhD

Founder and Director, Marrone Bio Innovations Inc.

Dr. Marrone spent her 30+ year career focused on biological products for pest

management and plant health. In August 2020, Dr. Marrone retired as CEO of Marrone

Bio Innovations (NASDAQ: MBII), a company she started in 2006 to discover and develop bio-based products for pest management and plant health and listed on NASDAQ (MBII) in 2013. She remains on the Board of Directors and is an advisor to the company and to its largest shareholder Ospraie Ag Sciences. Under her leadership, the company commercialized 10 products from six EPA-registered active ingredients (microbials and biochemicals) and in 2019 acquired Pro Farm Technologies (biochemicals from wood waste processed into bionutrients to accelerate growth in the multibillion dollar seed treatment market. From 2015 to 2019, the company grew its revenues by 32% CAGR and gross margins from 5% to 56%.

She is the founding Chair of the Bioproducts Industry Alliance, now a trade group of more than 150 companies. Through her Chestnut Bio Advisors and her association with Global BioAg Linkages and Primary BioAg Innovations, she advises several food and agtech companies, five founded and led by women, currently serves on the UC Davis Ag & Environmental Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council, and was an alumni-elected Trustee of Cornell University (2016-20). She is on the Executive Committee and is Treasurer of the Association for Women in Science and is a board member of the Foundation for Food and Ag Research. She also serves on the boards of the pharma life sciences companies Stem Express and 180 Life Sciences (NASDAQ:ATNF) and is a Senior Fellow of the Arizona State University Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems.

Dr. Marrone is a well-recognized leader in the biologicals industry as evidenced by the following awards: “Most Admired CEO, Distinguished Career Award” (Sacramento Business Journal), the “Sustie” award by the Ecological Farming Association, Agrow’s “Best Manager with Strategic Vision”, and the NRDC’s Growing Green Award in “Business Leader” category.

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