The embattled Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization behind the Golden Globe Awards that came under fire earlier this year following a Los Angeles Times exposé about its demographics and ethics, has retained a chief diversity officer as it seeks to reform itself and quell an industry boycott.

Neil Phillips, a Florida-based speaker and entrepreneur with a degree from Harvard University, will become the first person to hold the post. He is an Aspen Institute Education Entrepreneurship Fellow and a member of the inaugural Echoing Green/Open Society Foundation Black Male Achievement Fellowship who, through The Nantucket Project, has conducted on-stage conversations with the likes of Norman Lear and former president George W. Bush.

“Neil brings a powerful voice for inclusion and diversity not just to the HFPA, but also to the Hollywood community and media industry,” the HFPA’s president Helen Hoehne said in a statement. “Through our reform process, we believe it is not sufficient to just make progress internally, but also necessary to provide a platform for greater diversity and inclusion in our industry and the entertainment community our members cover. His willingness to talk openly about uncomfortable subjects and lead by example makes him an exceptional voice for change and we look forward to supporting his work.”

Phillips stated: “The HFPA has welcomed me and given me the opportunity to work not only with them, but the broader Hollywood and media industries that have struggled to discuss these issues of race openly and candidly without fear. I have always believed love is the answer to just about everything and if that makes people uncomfortable, that’s okay because discomfort signals an opportunity for growth and discussion. I’ve spent my entire career managing my own discomfort and diving deeply into the realm of breaking the bonds of systemic racism and having the uncomfortable, yet productive, conversations that can radically change organizations and individual lives.”

Hoehne also thanked Leadership Lab International (LLI) for the work they’ve done since June as the HFPA’s diversity, equity and inclusion consultants: “We are so appreciative of the work that LLI has done, and grateful for Neil’s willingness to collaborate with them, to ensure a seamless transition as we evolve our organization to make this a permanent role at the HFPA. LLI has helped us to change the way we think and communicate as an organization, and we are grateful for them.”

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