In 2018, Ryann Richardson made history, becoming the 50th Anniversary Miss Black America and taking up the mantle of the country’s first pageant and nationally televised celebration of women of color. Before that, the tech marketer-turned-founder and Diversity & Inclusion leader spent 10 years building brands and shaping internal culture for companies spanning from early-stage startups to billion-dollar "unicorns" to the Fortune 500. Her work earned her a spot as the youngest honoree on Savoy Magazine’s list of Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America and set her on the path of discovering her unique purpose as a champion for underrepresented voices.
Now in her second act as a founder, her company, Ellington Lafayette Co. is building a new type of tech incubator, focusing exclusively on startups that drive social equity for women, people of color, and other marginalized communities.
Ryann led East Coast regional marketing and partnerships at Uber. She’s credited with directing the company’s marketing presence at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and later developed Uber’s first comprehensive multicultural marketing strategy. Ryann also co-founded Uber’s employee-led Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.
Ryann was previously Vice President and Head of North American Marketing for UK-based private aviation marketplace app, Victor, and early in her career, worked on the national expansion of the MetroPCS wireless brand after T-Mobile’s acquisition of the then-regional company.
On her national Great Black America Tour since Summer 2019, Ryann travels the US as a keynote speaker at events, conferences, and in corporate and academic settings, leading conversations for women, people of color, and allies about equity, access, representation, and power. She's featured as an expert in the upcoming feature documentary, Subjects of Desire, exploring the evolution of American beauty standards and the appropriation of Black cultural aesthetics. Her TEDx Talk on The Politics on Beauty and Power takes place in December 2019 at TEDxCitrusParkWomen in Orange County, CA.
Ryann now collaborates with brands to build culturally relevant content, product lines, and social impact campaigns geared towards diverse consumer groups. In Fall 2019, she launched the #TakeUpSpace collection and social movement with sustainable jewelry company, ARTICLE 22.
MISS BLACK AMERICA
Founded in 1968, Miss Black America is the oldest pageant organization in the United States for
women of color. Originally conceived as a political protest against the exclusion of black women from
American institutions and cultural celebrations of
beauty, it was the first American pageant to feature black women and went on to become a nationally televised annual event. Over the years Miss Black America became a black culture phenomenon, showcasing future icons like Oprah Winfrey and Toni Braxton as contestants, and inspiring generations of black girls and women.
Today the program serves to spotlight the talent, intellect, and exceptional accomplishments of black women while enriching communities of color through service, mentorship, and advocacy.