The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has named speaker and entrepreneur Neil Phillips as its first chief diversity officer, as part of the Golden Globes group’s ongoing reforms.
The HFPA had previously promised to appoint a chief diversity officer as a permanent leadership position. In the role, Phillips will be tasked with promoting greater diversity, equity and inclusion within the HFPA and more broadly in Hollywood and journalism.
Phillips is an Aspen Institute Education Entrepreneurship fellow and a member of the inaugural Echoing Green/Open Society Foundation Black Male Achievement Fellowship. He has won the Nantucket Project Audience Award multiple times for his talk on race in America called “Race to Truth,” and he’s known for his recent on-stage conversations with Norman Lear and former President George W. Bush. Phillips is currently working on a documentary film with The Nantucket Project that focuses on race and Black male achievement.
“Neil brings a powerful voice for inclusion and diversity not just to the HFPA, but also to the Hollywood community and media industry. 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,” Helen Hoehne, HFPA president, said in a statement. “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.”
“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,” Phillips said. “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.”
Since June, Leadership Lap International (LLI) has served 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,” Hoehne added.
A Harvard University graduate and former professional basketball player, Phillips’ early career was spent in youth sports and character development at One On One Basketball and Positive Coaching Alliance. He returned to his alma mater, Landon School, in 2002 and served in administrative leadership roles for 10 years. While at Landon, Phillips focused on character, culture and creating a more diverse and inclusive school community.
Phillips, who lives in Sarasota, Fla., transitioned from Landon in 2012 and co-founded Visible Men Academy (VMA), an “A” rated public charter school located in Bradenton, Fla. Prior to retiring in 2021, he served as the co-founder, founding principal and CEO of VMA.
Phillips continues to work with educators, leaders and media partners who are committed to elevating Black male achievement, fulfillment and societal contribution.
The Golden Globes plan to hand out awards on Jan. 9, 2022, which is the same day the Critics’ Choice Awards had scheduled its own awards show, after it became clear that the 2022 Globes would not have a telecast partner in NBC.
Last month, the HFPA partnered with the NAACP on future reforms. The organization also added 21 new members to its roster — including 29% who are Black and nearly 50% who are women — who will immediately get to vote on the Golden Globes. It also named three external members to its board of directors, and appointed billionaire Todd Boehly of Eldridge as its interim CEO.