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2022 Black Footwear Forum Announces Agenda, Speakers and New Sponsors

The Black Footwear Forum (BFF) has announced its featured speakers and panels for next month’s event (Sept. 16-18) at the Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design (PLC) in Detroit in partnership with the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA).

“Since its first year, the Black Footwear Forum has evolved into a major industry gathering to celebrate, inspire and acknowledge Black creatives globally who are responsible for the culture of our industry,” states PLC Founder and President D’Wayne Edwards. “This year it’s happening in the only city in the U.S. designated a UNESCO City of Design—Detroit, Michigan.”

At the 2022 BFF, attendees, executives, industry leaders and the community of Detroit will gather for three-day free event of celebrations, conversations and networking as BFF continues to highlight, strengthen and support Black professionals globally in the footwear industry.

“I can’t think of a better city than Detroit, a better place than the Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design and a better time than now for the BFF to reconvene in-person after a multi-year hiatus,” says Matt Priest, president & CEO, FDRA. “Excitement for this event has been off-the-charts as registrations and corporate support continue to roll in. BFF Detroit will be the highlight of our year.”

Sept. 15 officially kicks off BFF with the first of many community activations for Detroit residents. A collaborative partnership between MERIT’s FATE Program and PENSOLE alumni, who are designers for some of the top brands in the industry, will conduct a PLC footwear design workshop at the PLC | FDRA | BFF Lounge by StockX in downtown Detroit. This workshop will also be open to the public, who can meet with other Black design leaders from the top brands.

Sept. 16 will start at University Prep Elementary School for a session called “Kids Are Ready For Design” by A Kids Company About and will feature College of Creative Studies graduate and award-winning designer, entrepreneur and educator Jason Mayden ( Following will be the BFF VIP dinner for staff, speakers and sponsors at the Detroit Pistons Performance Center, overlooking the Pistons’ practice facilities. And the evening will close with a mixer for all attendees at the PLC|FDRA|BFF Lounge by StockX in downtown Detroit.

Sept. 17, BFF will begin with opening remarks from Edwards and Terrence Floyd, activist founder of We Are Floyd and brother of George Floyd, followed by a variety of talks and panel discussions.

A schedule of featured panels and speakers, with more to be added in the weeks leading up to the event, is as follows:

Tappedin: Speaking about the new roads that have been paved for women in the footwear
● Jazerai Allen-Lord, award-winning and internationally acclaimed sneaker strategist and designer
Additional speakers TBA

Blacklight: Role Models / Hometown Hero
● Cheresse Thornhill-Goldson, Design Director, Adidas S.E.E.D.
Additional speakers TBA

Black Genius: The importance of role models
● Kevin Carroll, author, speaker, performance coach, founder of Katalyst

Storytellers: Speakers share personal projects, or projects of which they are most proud 
● Tyrel Kirkham ,Vice President, Brand & Marketing Strategy for the Detroit Pistons
Additional speakers TBA

Tappedin: Career Pathways + storytelling
● Garry Thaniel, General Manager, Sneakers, eBay
Additional speakers TBA

Blacklight the Industry: A Conversation about protecting your IP
● Jason Mayden, designer, educator, and entrepreneur author of “A Kids Book About Design”
Additional speakers TBA

Free Game Topic TBD
● Hosted by James Whitner, American fashion entrepreneur; owner of streetwear boutiques Social Status, A Ma Maniere, and A.P.B.
Additional speakers TBA

Dinner and Mixer
● Downtown at the PLC|FDRA|BBF Lounge by StockX

Sunday, September 18th the forum will close with the BFF Black Women’s Brunch and Adidas S.E.E.D Creator camp downtown at the PLC|FDRA|BBF Lounge by StockX, downtown Detroit.

All downtown events are free and open to the public all four days. Register to attend at: or follow us on Instagram @pensolelewis for updates and event coverage.

Other guests scheduled are:
● Matt Priest, President & CEO, FDRA
● April Walker, fashion icon, creator, author, educator
● Jeffrey Henderson, footwear designer and founder of AndThem
● Portia Blount, VP of Apparel, Reebok
● Scoop Jackson, author, and award-winning journalist, for ESPN
● Sydney James, interdisciplinary artist
● Jessica Smith, Director of Strategy, Adidas
● Alexander John, International footwear designer
● Lauren Guthrie, VP Global Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action, VF Corporation
● E. Scott Morris, Chair of Footwear, Pensole Lewis College
● Ashley Comeaux, VP of Product Design, Allbirds
● Damien Hooper-Campbell, Chief Impact Officer, StockX
● Liz Connelly, Sr Manager, Design Education & Growth, Adidas
● Che Pope, Grammy-winning producer, WRKSHP
Additional speakers TBA

The 2022 Annual BFF’s corporate partners include The Athlete’s Foot, Caleres, Carhartt, College for Creative Studies, Detroit Pistons, Designer Brands, Foot Locker, Gilbert Family Foundation, Logitech, MillerKnoll, Nike, Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse, Rack Room Shoes, RG Barry Brands, Target, Steve Madden, Bedrock, Wolverine Worldwide, GM, Adidas, VF Corp, StockX, Ford, PEPSICO.

The March 2024 Issue

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