Seattle’s Most Influential People 2018: Diversity Leaders

Steven Matly, Ijeoma Oluo and Robin DiAngelo are our city's leading thinkers on the subject of race

By Naomi Ishisaka October 18, 2018


This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Seattle Magazine.

This article appears in print in the November 2018 issue, as part of the Most Influential People of the Year feature. Click here to subscribe.

Seattle might be country’s fifth-whitest big city, but it is home to some of the nation’s leading thinkers on the subject of race.

If you have ever heard the term “white fragility,” that’s likely because of Robin DiAngelo, a white anti-racism trainer and consultant who literally wrote the book on White Fragility in 2018. She defines the concept as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves” by white people. She believes that by engaging white people in thinking of themselves as active participants in the system of white supremacy, then they might be better able to work toward racial justice.

Since Ijeoma Oluo last appeared on this list in 2015, she has been named to The Root 100 list of most influential African-Americans in 2017, increased her Twitter following to nearly 150,000 and in January published The New York Times best-selling book So You Want to Talk About Race, a handbook for anyone interested in improving their understanding of racial systems of oppression. Salon called the book “generous and empathetic, yet usefully blunt…it’s for anyone who wants to be smarter and more empathetic about matters of race and engage in more productive anti-racist action.”

Steven Matly knows about being underestimated. After dropping out of high school, he became an entrepreneur who twice turned $5,000 into businesses generating six-figure revenues. In 2014, Matly launched his own diversity and inclusion firm, SM Diversity, a boutique staffing and consulting company that helps organizations hire diverse talent and better understand how, “if we don’t consciously include, we will unconsciously exclude” through Hack Diversity and Inclusion events and workshops.

Join The Must List

Sign up and get Seattle's best events delivered to your inbox every week.

Follow Us

Cream of the Crop

Cream of the Crop

Nutpods founder Madeline Haydon named to INC's Female Founders list

Madeline Haydon founded nutpods out of frustration. Ten years later, she finds herself on Inc.’s prestigious Female Founders list. Haydon was pregnant and on vacation at Lake Tahoe when she couldn’t find any dairy-free creamer options at a diner. She decided then and there that she wanted to launch a company. She spent the next…

Most Influential, Arts: Tariqa Waters

Most Influential, Arts: Tariqa Waters

Fighting the establishment while uplifting other creatives

Tariqa Waters is one of Seattle’s 25 most influential people reshaping our region. #mostinfluential   Most people in Seattle know Tariqa Waters as the owner and curator of two art spaces in Pioneer Square: Martyr Sauce gallery, a creative hub she opened in 2012, and its little sister space, Martyr Sauce Pop Art Museum (MS PAM),…

Most Influential, Media: Tom Mara

Most Influential, Media: Tom Mara

Retirement didn’t last long for the Seattle radio legend

Tom Mara is one of Seattle’s 25 most influential people reshaping our region. #mostinfluential   Media and entertainment executive Tom Mara vowed to retire when he left Seattle-based nonprofit radio station KEXP last June 30 after two stints, a name change and 34 years altogether. Retirement didn’t last long.  After months serving as a consultant to…

Most Influential, Food & Drink: Donna Moodie

Most Influential, Food & Drink: Donna Moodie

Restaurateur and activist Donna Moodie is all about community

Donna Moodie is one of Seattle’s 25 most influential people reshaping our region. #mostinfluential   “If music be the food of love, play on,” wrote William Shakespeare in “Twelfth Night.” At Donna Moodie’s intimate Capitol Hill restaurant, Marjorie, music, food and love collide to create an alchemy of community as organic as the ingredients Chef Cheyenne…