The Black Footwear Forum Returns This Fall In Detroit

The Black Footwear Forum (BFF) will convene once again this year at the Pensole Lewis College in Detroit.

The forum, which addresses and analyzes diversity issues in the footwear field, will feature a gathering of industry leaders and executives between September 15 and 17, 2023. The annual event was created in partnership with the Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design (Michigan’s first and only HBCU focused on design) and the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA).

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This year, the event will include a DEI Summit on September 14 for footwear CEOs and executives to discuss topics related to diversity in the industry.

“The BFF is on the move as we work to ensure that Black employees in the footwear industry are well-served and empowered to make substantial gains in our industry,” said Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design president Dr. D’Wayne Edwards.

This year, the BFF is also launching a new podcast, “Blacklights,” which discusses diversity and the accomplishments of Black leaders in the industry. The podcast launches in March and will be hosted by Dion Walcott, Pensole’s director of partnerships and engagement and LaShae Boone-McCray, director of strategic accounts for footwear manufacturer RG Barry.

The Black Footwear Forum first convened in February 2019. Since then, the forum has held an annual meeting, where industry leaders and supporters hold open conversations about the Black experience in the context of the footwear industry and work together to find solutions.

In February, the forum announced the formation of an advisory board that will guide strategies for community engagement, education, networking, events, and regional BFF chapters. The board recently added Darius Billings, VP of marketing and outreach for The Athlete’s Foot and April Dinwoodie, DEIB lead at Steve Madden to a roster that also includes executives from Converse, Reebok, Puma, FDRA and Target.

“After the amazing and empowering event in Detroit last year it was a no-brainer to have the BFF return to the Motor City in 2023” said FDRA President and CEO Matt Priest. “Couple the national event with a new podcast, an active Advisory Board, and dynamic and engaging regional chapters, and the future of the BFF and our employees has never been brighter.”

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