Skip To Content
Spelman College Campus

Fireside Chats at Spelman College

The Spelman community is invited to embark upon on an enlightening journey and attend the College’s unique Fireside Chats — thought-provoking conversations with Spelman President Helene Gayle, M.D., MPH that delve into the minds of the nation’s most influential leaders. Attendees will gain insight into the unique experiences, insightful perspectives and the transformative power of their stories. These engaging dialogues are crafted to broaden horizons and offer a glimpse into the remarkable journeys of individuals shaping our world.

Tune in and be a part of these enriching conversations that celebrate wisdom, diversity and leadership.


View on Livestream: Fireside Chat and Roundtable With Federal Reserve Board Chair

Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 | 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.


Fireside Chat at Spelman With Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell On Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, at 11 a.m.,  friends and supporters of the College are asked to tune in via Livestream as Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell and Spelman College President Helene Gayle engage in a Fireside Chat highlighting the challenges of our post-COVID economy.

Learn More About Board Chair Powell

Award--winning economist and Spelman alumna Lisa D. Cook, Ph.D., C'86, who was recently confirmed for a full 14-year term on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, will also be present.

Learn More About Governor Cook

Roundtable Discussion at Spelman With Federal Governor Board Chair Jerome Powell

Later on in the afternoon from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., viewers may watch via Livestream, a Roundtable Discussion with Mr. Powell and leading voices from Spelman


Past Chats 


ESSENCE Fireside Chat With President Helene Gayle and Caroline Wanga

Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023 | 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

  • Sisters Chapel, Spelman College and via Zoom

On Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023, Spelman College hosted an empowering convocation with Spelman President Helene Gayle and ESSENCE Ventures President and CEO Caroline Wanga. The Convocation brought together two cultural iconic brands for Black women for a fireside chat that challenged perspectives on failure, authenticity, purpose and staying true to yourself.  ESSENCE Ventures includes ESSENCE, Afropunk, Girls United, Naturally Curly, ESSENCE Studios and BeautyCon.

About Caroline Wanga

Fireside Chat With Spelman President Helene Gayle and ESSENCE Ventures CEO Caroline WangaCaroline A. Wanga is the president and chief executive officer of Essence Ventures – a portfolio of brands that aims to activate a boundary-less and frictionless global Black economic ecosystem. Acknowledged by Fast Company as a “Brands That Matter” 2023 Honoree, Essence Ventures brands include ESSENCE, the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women and communities; Afropunk, the multi-medium platform that uplifts and unleashes Black expression and individuality now and in the future; BeautyCon, the experiential and content focused platform that aims to transcend the aesthetic of attraction and enable an individualized empowered existence and experience on what beauty is; and Essence Studios, a production studio and original content hub focused on authentic Black storytelling, story-making, story-sharing, and story-doing.

Wanga joined Essence Ventures as chief growth officer in 2020 from the Target Corporation, where she served as chief culture, diversity and inclusion officer. She began her 15-year Target career in supply chain, serving in a variety of transformational leadership roles, including modernizing supply chain, business Intelligence, and Digital and Strategy capabilities. Prior to Target, she held several roles in the non-profit sector. A self-proclaimed cultural architect with a passion for constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing organizational culture, she champions and inspires authenticity and thrives in innovative environments.

With a background in corporate and community leadership, her career expands over several disciplines and capabilities including youth development, grant-writing, community organizing, supply chain, human resources, equity, culture and media. Wanga has worked her way up from entry-level positions to the highest of senior leadership roles and is passionate about modeling what she teaches. Her “real-talk” delivery, witty thought leadership and unmitigated perspective on authenticity as a differentiator for individuals and organizations, make her a highly sought-after keynote speaker, equity strategist, thought leader, and community influencer.

She unapologetically believes that who each person is, is nonnegotiable and is often quoted saying, “Who you are is who you are. If you cannot be who you are where you are, you change where you are not who you are.”

In 2020, she co-founded WangaWoman LLC., whose mission is to “Democratize Authenticity.” Among other accolades, Wanga has been awarded the “Anthem Award” for Business Leader of The Year – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Steve and Majorie Harvey Foundation “Helping Hands” Award, and the For(bes) The Culture AfroFuture Award. She has two honorary doctorate degrees from her alma mater Texas College and Dillard University, respectively. She has been previously named Top Executive in Corporate Diversity by Black Enterprise and recognized by Savoy as one of the Most Powerful Women in Corporate America.

She is a member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC,) the American Airlines Community Council, and the McDonalds MultiCultural Marketing Advisory Council. She is a former member of the Talladega College Board of Trustees, previously served on the Intersectionality, Culture, and Diversity Advisory Board for Twitter and served as co-chair of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Diversity & Inclusion Initiative. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas College, a Historically Black College/ University (HBCU,) is a Kenyan citizen, and her life’s greatest accomplishment is her daughter, Cadence