Blog Photos (1)-1Like many companies, our journey in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion has been a centerpiece in our company objectives over the last few years. You may recall us setting and sharing intentions back in 2021 through our rally cry and defining objectives for the year. We emphasized a focus on three key areas, and those areas have evolved to become our three pillars:

  • People
  • Partners
  • Purpose

We believe that our DE&I impact is about more than just what we do within the walls of our own company. As a Hispanic and Veteran-owned and operated company, we take our responsibility to create diverse, equitable, and inclusive spaces across our whole community quite seriously. Our community extends to include our customers, contract employees, strategic partners, and the communities where we live and work.

As we do every year, we’ve slowed down to reflect on our DE&I journey to date and what we’ve accomplished, and we’ve also spent time looking ahead to what we still want and need to do.

It’s been a minute since our last update, so come along as I share some of our exciting milestones and introduce you to our current DE&I Council members.


Taniesha Thomas 3A Leader in DE&I

In 2022, one of the key commitments we made to advancing our DE&I goals was to add a necessary role to our community – Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Taniesha Thomas. Taniesha is responsible for creating and driving our DE&I strategy and working in partnership with internal stakeholders like the council, executive team, ERG leaders, and our employees as well as aligning with our customers and partners.




Employee Well-Being

We’ve added new ERGs that create space for learning and conversations that support the needs and well-being of our employees. Our ERGs include:

  • PG Parents
  • Pride Alliance
  • VALOR (Veterans and Allies Linking Our Resources)
  • Health & Wellness
  • Cultures Connected
  • Black Network
  • PG Christians
  • Leading Ladies

NMSDC-Logo-CorporatePlus_squareNMSDC Corporate Plus Member

We continue to lean into participation with the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) as a Corporate Plus member by attending the national conference each year in addition to joining events with regional affiliates across the country. These events bring together PG stakeholders with partners, customers, and other diverse-owned businesses to influence equity and inclusion in the corporate business community.


diversity in business 2023Diversity in Business Awards

We're thrilled to announce that Populus Group has been named a 2023 recipient of the Daily Herald Business Ledger's Diversity in Business Awards. This prestigious accolade honors businesses that are champions of diversity and inclusion within the workplace. Populus Group has been recognized as a top diversity business for the 3rd year running by the Daily Herald in Chicago. Read more about this award on the PG blog!


Increasing our Impact (sneak peek alert! 👀)

As the corporate landscape continues to demand more of organizations by way of DE&I, it’s more important than ever to make sure intentions turn to impact through action. Very soon, we’ll be sharing our first-ever impact report – a comprehensive collection of who we are and the impact of our business. This will be a collection of exciting data and stories and help us set our impact aspirations for the future.


Our Current DE&I Council

Get to know the people responsible for raising the voices of our community and driving action toward our DE&I goals.

taniesha thomas

Taniesha Thomas, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

  • DE&I passions/interests: I’m most passionate about building strong, valuable partnerships to advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within business. It’s a joy to serve as a liaison between underserved communities and the business to connect the dots and push forward strategies to help the business thrive.
  • Resource recommendation: Austin Channing Books - Check out some good reads 😊
  • DE&I focus/goals for the year: Increasing PG’s DEI impact in the marketplace by building strong relationships with Supplier Diversity and other internal DEI leaders within our clients.
  • My favorite way to spend time when I’m not working is: I’m a self-care junkie and spend much of my free time loving on myself. I enjoy exploring different restaurants, finding new books, girls' nights, spa dates, and more.
  • You may be surprised to learn that: I am the owner of 22Glow Body Naturals. I produce and sell natural skin care products!


mario-1Mario Lambert, Executive Sponsor

  • As an executive sponsor of Populus Group’s DE&I Council, why are our ongoing DE&I efforts important to you? First, I’m passionate about the cause of genuine connection and seeing people realize their potential. DE&I is at the center. Relationships, breaking down silos, and helping people get access are drivers of my own mission. Second, for PG to WIN & GROW, we must leverage the best of our voices and capabilities to match the needs and opportunities in our market. The principles of DE&I will guide us to get there.
  • DE&I passions/interests: Great conversations with people who know their identity and love their culture. I get so excited to hear people tell me about their traditions, customs, and homelands. I’m also curious about how people think and how environments have influenced them. I’m also a champion for people to represent their values and to collaborate with others of like mind while being encouraged to grow with people who think differently. With PG – I consider myself a minority business advocate – often championing the cause to promote authentic, American-based minority-owned & veteran-owned firms.
  • Resource recommendation: The NAACP is the oldest and boldest civil rights organization in the United States. I highly recommend researching its history to understand how and why 8 founding members, 6 of whom were white, created this organization in 1909 and then seek to understand how gaps still exist today. In addition, a great book to read is Political Tribes by Amy Chua. She explores how people are tribal and separated by ideology. Another great book is the Autobiography of Malcolm X His transformational journey to accept and practice brotherhood with people who look different than him is fascinating.
  • DE&I focus/goals for the year: Elevate the influence of our DEI advocates who are focused on helping PG become the healthiest organization possible….therefore positioning the climbers to learn & grow, then taking those lessons home to their communities.
  • My favorite way to spend time when I’m not working is: Laughing with family, working out with my kids, and volunteering with some cool organizations. Oh…and I binge-watch YouTube comedians!
  • You may be surprised to learn that: We own an RV and have done some interesting travels recently! One of the cool places was to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore.


Karen Philbrick-2Karen Philbrick, Executive Sponsor

  • As an executive sponsor of Populus Group’s DE&I Council, why are our ongoing DE&I efforts important to you? We are a minority- and veteran-owned company that is built on the belief that “Everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed.” It is important to me that we are creating an environment for both our internal and external populations where this is a possibility. 
  • DE&I passions/interests:  Building workplaces where everyone has the opportunity to achieve their career aspirations while creating an environment that creates safety and encourages individuals to bring their full selves to work.
  • Resource recommendation: Two books that have been impactful for me: for the HR professional looking to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces - "Inclusify" by Stefanie K. Johnson; for the individual looking to grow their awareness - "How to be an AntiRacist" by Ibram X. Kendi. Also for senior leadership teams, there is a significant benefit to bringing in a 3rd-party to give you an honest, unbiased review of the work you are doing.  I cannot encourage this enough.
  • DE&I focus/goals for the year: This year it is about expanding our work outside of the walls of our community more by leaning into outside mentoring and community impact.
  • My favorite way to spend time when I’m not working is: Thanks to my bookworm partners at PG, I have gotten a lot more into reading for fun over this past year. I also have two teenagers in travel sports which keeps me very busy.
  • You may be surprised to learn that:  I am an avid runner.  I’ve run over a dozen half-marathons and one full marathon.  I think 2024 could be the year of the full marathon again. (insert grimacing emoji here.. 😊)

Ed-1Ed Herrera, Executive Sponsor

  • As an executive sponsor of Populus Group’s DE&I Council, why are our ongoing DE&I efforts important to you?  The importance of DE&I for me goes back to my childhood. I grew up as the 12th kid of Mexican immigrant parents in southeastern New Mexico.  So many teachers and coaches impacted my life growing up which has carried through my lifetime. I had people who impacted me so much as a kid and young man that I wanted to honor them by impacting others as they impacted me. That is something that I will continue as long as I can. 
  • DE&I passions/interests: In my personal life, I love giving back to underprivileged youth who have challenges that many youth don’t experience day in and day out. In my professional life, I spend a great deal of time mentoring future leaders. The biggest cornerstone for me is allowing my leaders and climbers to be authentic.  I ask everyone to be “you” so they can realize their potential. 
  • Resource recommendation: My dad never wrote a book, but if he did that would be my ultimate recommendation. From growing up riding horses to seeing my mom to being a police officer in Mexico to bringing his family to the US - that would be the resource recommendation I would give. I was able to see it and live it and will never forget it. He was the biggest resource for me throughout my entire life. 
  • DE&I focus/goals for the year: I strongly believe that Populus Group is becoming better and better every year in how we partner with our customers. I truly feel that 2024 will be the year that we turn the corner in how we partner with our customers and how we enable them to hit their goals in the DE&I space. 
  • My favorite way to spend time when I’m not working is: My absolute favorite way to spend time is with my wife and three boys. We have so much fun together as a family. We have started a tradition where we have the boys pick a night to be the chef of the night with carte blanche on the menu. This has taught our boys the lesson of preparation and execution of the dinner for the night. We have had so much fun with many different dinner options. 
  • You may be surprised to learn that: I brew beer 3 to 4 times a year with my 3 best friends out here in Chicago.  We have a lot of fun doing it and we make it a point to name and label every batch.  The labels have been very creative over the years so if you want to see them, give me a call!


chelsie rimpsonChelsie Rimpson

  • DE&I passions/interests: Representation and Equality
  • Resource recommendation: "So You Want to Talk About Race" book by Ijeoma Oluo. This book offers a frank and compassionate discussion of racial realities in the modern U.S., providing a user-friendly guide to understanding and navigating issues of race, power, and identity. Also, The Diversity Gap Podcast focuses on bridging the gap between good intentions and meaningful change, featuring conversations with experts and practitioners in the field of diversity and inclusion.
  • DE&I focus/goals for the year: Driving engagement within our Black Network ERG!
  • My favorite way to spend time when I’m not working is: Reading, working out, and spending time with my kids and husband.
  • You may be surprised to learn that: I just recently started playing tennis, I have lessons every week!


tarryn hemmerTarryn Hemmer

  • DE&I passions/interests: Creating and nurturing a diverse and inclusive workplace. I am passionate about representation in all areas of an organization and love to fill any gaps there may be.
  • Resource recommendation: Inclusion, Equity & Diversity by SHRM. This webpage offers a lot of varying resources and blog posts surrounding DE&I. It’s a great resource if you don’t know where to start when wanting to know more about DE&I.
  • DE&I focus/goals for the year: As a remote employee not local to our offices, my main goal is researching and finding more volunteer opportunities for our remote workforce so that they feel included in Populus Project activities.
  • My favorite way to spend time when I’m not working is: Hanging out with my wife and our two dogs, Doug and Russell, or going to hockey games. 
  • You may be surprised to learn that: Me and my wife “compete” to see who can obtain more college degrees while pursuing our dream careers – it keeps us focused and determined to reach our goals. We’re both on degree number 3!


Kristiana BozinovskiKristiana Bozinovski

  • DE&I passions/interests: Allyship, Inclusion, & Unconscious Bias
  • Resource recommendation: Webinars! I attend webinars on topics ranging from LGBTQIA+ allyship, racism, diversity (and more) regularly to actively continue learning and growing in all areas of DEI.
  • DE&I focus/goals for the year: Align the philanthropic efforts of the Populus Project with those of our ERGs.
  • My favorite way to spend time when I’m not working is: Indulging in my favorite wellness activities - walks in nature, barre/pilates, and watching The Great British Bake Off.
  • You may be surprised to learn that: I'm a member of the Philanthropy Committee of Oakland University's Young Alumni Chapter of the Alumni Association. GO GRIZZLIES!


Lindsey wingotLindsey Wignot

  • DE&I passions/interests: Accessibility and inclusion! Making space for everyone to bring their full selves to work. 
  • Resource recommendation: The book, "Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice" by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha was a really important read for me! Leah really highlights why it’s so important to create sustainable, inclusive communities so no one gets left behind.
  • DE&I focus/goals for the year: Coming in as a new member, I hope to bring new energy to some cool existing projects and do my part to make sure my fellow West Coast climbers stay informed and engaged with the work of the DEI Council!
  • My favorite way to spend time when I’m not working is: Spending way too much time on Pinterest, playing volleyball, or trying to think of new things to cook in my crock pot.
  • You may be surprised to learn that: I took accordion lessons in high school but only ever learned to play “When the Saints Go Marching In”. It was harder than I expected! Like playing the piano sideways. It probably would have been easier if I’d learned the piano first!


molly thorton (1)Molly Thornton

  • DE&I passions/interests: Neudiversity & allyship
  • Resource recommendation: HR University, Udemy, and Intersectional Justice
  • DE&I focus/goals for the year: To spread DE&I knowledge and information to all climbers!
  • My favorite way to spend time when I’m not working is: I spend the summer months camping with my husband and our dog, Rocky. During winter months we cheer on the Detroit Lions and like to go skiing.
  • You may be surprised to learn that: I have around 100 houseplant babies.


taraTara O’Connor

  • DE&I passions/interests: I have a passion for justice and equality. I believe that everyone should be afforded the same opportunities for success
  • Resource recommendation: Fair 360 - This is the website for the rebranded Diversity, Inc.
  • DE&I focus/goals for the year: helping to resurrect the ERG for African Americans
  • My favorite way to spend time when I’m not working: hiking, bird watching and reading
  • You may be surprised to learn that: I am the 5th generation and my nieces are the 6th generation of my family to be college-educated, on both sides.


stephanie kurtzStephanie Kurtz

  • DE&I passions/interests: Inclusion and ensuring that there is space for multiple voices to be heard and highlighting those who have not been listened to. 
  • Resource recommendation: Udemy is an accessible tool that has various free/affordable DEI courses. The courses help to provide a foundation for those looking to learn more and hopefully teach their peers what they’ve learned. 
  • DE&I focus/goals for the year: Highlight individuals and ERGs within PG on our Podcast to provide a platform for them to educate on a larger scale that will reach more of the organization. 
  • My favorite way to spend time when I’m not working is: Going to comedy shows and traveling. 
  • You may be surprised to learn that: My dream job as a child was to be a school bus driver because I thought it would be fun. As an adult, I value my sanity!


jen pasquierJen Pasquier

  • DE&I Passions/interests: Approaching life and work with an open heart and mind so that I can get better on my own journey and help others grow in theirs, Inclusive leadership, and creating inclusive teams
  • Resource recommendation: Anti-Racist Daily (ARD) newsletter and the "I’m Still Here" book by Austin Channing Brown. We also have amazing Employee Resource Groups that create spaces to learn and participate in conversations that center on different lived experiences within our community.
  • DE&I focus/goals for the year: help to communicate impactful stories from within our community and grow our DE&I impact with our customers and partners.
  • My favorite way to spend time when I’m not working is: I love spending time with my family (husband, daughter, and twin boys). To recharge, I love to be active and outside, going for walks or bike rides, hiking, snowboarding, paddleboarding/kayaking, you name it. I’ve also gotten back into reading for fun and love to cozy up with my Kindle.
  • You may be surprised to learn that: I love to dance! I grew up in ballet, danced in the Nutcracker, was a junior company dancer, and as an adult got really into Zumba (I was even a certified instructor for a hot sec). I have a hard time containing my moves when I hear a good song. 💃

As we continue to navigate our DE&I journey, it’s essential to recognize the strides we’ve made while acknowledging the work that still lies ahead. The commitment and passion of our DE&I Council, along with the support of our entire community, position us to make even more meaningful impacts. Together, we’ll keep pushing boundaries, fostering an inclusive culture, and ensuring that every voice within our community is heard and valued.

We're excited to keep the momentum going, embracing our three pillars of People, Partners, and Purpose, as we strive for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive tomorrow!