Kevin E. Hooks – Author, Producer, And Inclusion Strategist


Why is Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) so important?
DEI is important because it produces better decision making – full stop. When the decision-making process includes diverse teams, they can consider a broader range of perspectives and insights. This helps to mitigate biases, reduce blind spots, and it provides the room necessary to make more informed and fair decisions. Diversity at its core challenges groupthink and encourages critical evaluation of ideas, and that leads to better outcomes. Better outcomes will inspire others to do the same.  When that happens we just might achieve that elusive American dream that we have coveted for so long.

How do we ensure that corporations honor their commitment to their efforts with DEI?
Ensuring that corporations honor their commitment requires our grace and our willingness to recognize and even celebrate the smallest improvements. While I don’t deny that wreaks of defeatism, I have enough experience leading DEI initiatives across industries and continents to know that taking that first step is extremely important. I prefer to embrace the motto that President Obama popularized, “do not let perfection be the enemy of good”.

On the other hand, we need to “strike down with furious vengeance” (to quote Sam Jackson) those corporations that ignore, dismiss, or pretend that things like diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, accessibility and justice actually matter to them. We need to wage an intentional war against companies that attempt to get away with performative non sense. When Corporate America learns that there is a penalty for ignoring the demands of equity, they will respond — of that I am certain

What does success look like for you?
When I was young I defined success as an accumulation of the coolest toys and the best experiences. Race from Los Angeles to Miami in a private jet…check. Hang out with a president or two…Check. Pay cash for that “coupe” and add all the extra bells and whistles…check. I thought I was the embodiment of success.

One day I was listening to a speech by Dr. Cornel West. He was talking about the importance of love and doing things that really mattered. He then he said, “the unexamined life is not worth living” ( a quote by Socrates)…That quote had a profound impact on me. I found myself being introspective and looking for answers through self reflection.

Afterwards I defined success very differently. Success is measured by the number of people I help. Its measured by the number of times that I can make my son proud and inspire him to greatness. It’s measured by quality of life rather than quantity of things. Finally, success is being the best me possible.

What does it mean to you to be a father?
Being a father means being more afraid than you ever thought possible. I have been burned out of a home, shot at by a rival gang, beaten by the police. I have shared the stage with President Clinton and President Bush (at the same time) with nary a nerve. I have been interviewed on C-SPAN, CNN and BET and I was absolutely fine. I even met Muhammad Ali once — my childhood hero, and he called me pretty. I certainly blushed but I had no nerves, no fears, not even a butterfly.

The day my son was born, I finally understood fear. The confidence and comfort of being in total control of a self centered existence was replaced with a debilitating realization that I had no idea what happens next and It was completely and utterly out of my control.

Being a father is also the manifestation of joy and happiness. The type of joy that overwhelmed me when my son opened his eyes is indescribable. I knew at that moment nothing else mattered. Every single movement was new and exciting. The little tiny fingers and toes were each a priceless jewel that shined brighter than the brightest diamonds. His eyes were a hypnotist’s watch and the word “NO” ceased to exist.

Being a father is being afraid. Being a father is being joyful.

Being a father is everything.


Tell us about the most difficult thing you had to overcome and how you did it?

The most difficult thing that I have had to overcome is my child hood trauma. I experienced a lot of violence and death during my young life. As I was climbing the corporate ladder, I began to hear about self-care and mental health and wellness.

I learned that help was available and that remaining traumatized was optional. I chose to “work the problem”. I got help and began to do the work of healing.

My decision making improved. My satisfaction with myself improved. I learned that I was enough. My confidence returned and began to thrive again.

Where would you like to see your career in the next five years?

I was recently listening to President Obama talk during his last days in office talk about running through the tape. I want to do the same thing with my career of service. I will continue passionately advocate for the underrepresented and marginalized.


An author, producer, and inclusion strategist, Kevin has a track record of sustained success. He serves as the principal point of inflection for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) for his consulting firm CEOLIFE Unplugged.

Kevin built one of the largest Urban League Affiliates in the history of the movement with revenues in excess of $50 million and service offerings to more than 300,000 people. He is a successful culture curator who has consistently delivered outsized results for his clients. He has influenced public opinion as the host of “A Seat at the Table”, a popular podcast, on the Rolling Out Network. He has shaped public policy as the Chairman of the Nevada Equal Rights Commission and was the leading voice for social justice as the CEO of the Las Vegas Urban League and a champion of the poor as the CEO of the Las Vegas Clark County Community Action Agency.

He is the creator of The Ten Commandments of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion©, Project RE-DO (a story-based DEIB training module) and DEIB Toolkits Unplugged (a guide to building your own diversity toolkit).

He is a graduate of the inaugural Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a leadership institute created by President George W. Bush, President George H.W. Bush, President Clinton and the LBJ Foundation and was awarded the outstanding alumnus from Missouri Southern State University — his alma mater.

He currently serves as a champion of Diversity, Equity and inclusion as Founder and CEO of CEOLIFE Unplugged — a consultancy that helps brands build communities based on diversity, fueled by equity, and sustained by inclusion.