PODCAST: S4:EP34– Diahann Billings-Burford, RISE

Join us for S4:EP34 of the Sports Philanthropy Podcast as Diahann Billings-Burford, Chief Executive Officer of RISE (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality), sits down with our host Roy Kessel to discuss Diahann’s background and the work being done at RISE.

Diahann Billings-Burford has spent her career working in and lifting up diverse communities. During the past decade, Billings-Burford has held senior positions in New York City government and subsequently at Time Warner, serving some five years in each post and handling a challenging mix of responsibilities.

At various stages of her career, Billings-Burford’s experiences have been in deeply diverse communities and in executive offices; with government agencies and education initiatives; with youth, elderly and the disadvantaged; in innovative startups; and in both publicly funded nonprofits and privately sponsored for-profits.

She serves on the National Board of Directors for buildOn, an international organization working to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service learning programs in America’s under-served high schools and by building classrooms in some of the world’s economically poorest countries. She also serves on the boards of Philanthropy New York, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and Success Academy. In 2021, she was recognized on Crain’s Notable Nonprofits and Philanthropy list and in 2019 was named one of Crain’s Notable Women in Sports.

Billings-Burford earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Yale University and a law degree from Columbia University School of Law and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

RISE is a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations. Through partnerships and programs, they inspire leaders in sports to create positive change on matters of race and equality.

Diahann Billings-Burford joins our host Roy Kessel on S4:EP34 of the Sports Philanthropy Podcast


  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 01:00 Diahann’s Sports Background
  • 04:50 Education and Work Experiences
  • 11:35 Solving Complex Problems
  • 13:45 Coming to RISE
  • 21:30 Favorite Moments at RISE
  • 27:30 RISE Curriculum
  • 30:00 Equality vs Equity
  • 36:00 Additional Challenges
  • 38:55 Connecting with RISE
  • 41:30 Diahann as Commissioner
  • 45:00 Goodbyes


Andrew Garver

Andrew Garver

Sports Philanthropy Network

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