Tolonda Tolbert
Co-Founder and Chief Strategy & Culture Officer at ESKALERA

Tolonda Tolbert is a diversity, inclusion, and equity expert with over a decade of in-the-field experience translating and operationalizing theory and research into the practice of fostering inclusive cultures. She has held a variety of leadership roles, which have focused on designing large-scale change initiatives for complex organizations ranging from corporations to higher education institutions. Tolonda is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy & Culture Officer at ESKALERA, a human capital management platform. ESKALERA’S goal is to provide scalable, skills-based learning, with integrated sensing mechanisms to provide durable analysis and ongoing actionable insights that inform a larger suite of tools for human capital management. 

Prior to founding ESKALERA, she was a Senior Director of the Inclusive Leadership Initiative and Consultant for Catalyst’s Consulting Services. She headed a leadership development learning platform that trains emerging leaders in inclusive management of diverse teams. She also co-led the Employee Resource Leadership Initiative (ERLI). As a strategy consultant, Tolonda partnered with global organizations to build their capacity to create and sustain inclusive workplace environments. She specializes in learning and development, cultural competency, ERGs, visible minorities and LGBTQ+ issues. 

Previously, Tolonda worked as an independent diversity and inclusion consultant for education and nonprofit institutions, as the founder of Diversity Speaks NYC. She operated as a national trainer for The Anti-Defamation League’s A World of Difference Institute, Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). Tolonda was an adjunct professor at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work teaching classes for graduate students on diversity, racism, oppression and privilege (D.R.O.P), and she taught professional development courses for faculty on Inclusive Pedagogy. She also maintains an active role on the Anti-Defamation League’s Education Board. Tolonda received her PhD at Rutgers University, where she also received her Master’s with distinction; she is also a CU alum (BA, English). Tolonda is a published writer, independent scholar and community activist on social justice issues.