In a global economy, having a competitive edge in customized, diverse solutions matters. Yardstick Management helps clients develop a plan that delivers a quantifiable impact on their target market.
Dr. Ebbie Parsons, III, is the Founder of Yardstick Management. A seasoned business executive with a passion for intentional impact, he has been applauded for his strategic thinking, engaging leadership, and results-oriented mindset throughout his successful career. After working at Fortune 500 companies, including Intel, Medtronic, and American Express, Dr. Parsons III decided to transition from a promising career in business in 2007 to join the prestigious Broad Residency Program in Educational Leadership. The Broad Residency was his first introduction to the inner-workings of America’s public education system, where he served as the Chief Operating Officer of Hartford Public Schools.
Championing the overhaul of the district’s school funding methodology, he negotiated the state’s first pay-for-performance teacher union contract. He led the redistricting of the city to an “All-Choice” system of schools. Following his time in Hartford, Dr. Parsons, III, was on the founding team of the groundbreaking Relay Graduate School of Education, where he led the organization’s Human Capital function. Following Relay, he took on a new challenge to serve as the Chief Operating Officer of the third-largest Charter Management Organization in the U.S., Mosaica Education, Inc. At Mosaica, Dr. Parsons, III, managed over 80 schools across eight states, Washington, D.C., the Middle East, and Asia. He led Mosaica to its two consecutive most profitable years in its 14-year history while simultaneously leading the company to its highest academic performance results in years.
Leveraging his wealth of experience and expertise in business and education, he launched Yardstick Management with a vision to become a leader in transforming and impacting the global landscape of the management consulting industry. Less than a decade later, Yardstick has become a world thought leader and powerhouse in providing specialized Management, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Talent consulting services to renowned mission-driven brands and organizations worldwide. Yardstick is committed to building its clients’ internal capacity to enhance its ability to deliver extraordinary results to its constituents.
He holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Florida A&M University, an MBA from the University of Minnesota, and a Doctorate in Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. He has also served as a Faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. Dr. Parsons, III, has extensive board leadership experience, including serving on the boards of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Lighthouse Academies, Children’s Orchestra Society, the Georgia Symphony Orchestra, Urban Ministries, Inc., the Atlanta Music Project (an El Sistema Program), The Winans Group and the Finance Corps. Dr. Parsons, III, is a Fellow with the Pahara Institute and the Aspen Institute and is a Member of the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Dr. Parsons, III, resides in Atlanta, GA, with his wife, Ayana, and their adorable daughters, Ebbie Noelle, aka “Noey,” and Noohra Celeste. In his spare time, he enjoys cycling, kayaking, and, most of all, rooting for his favorite hometown team, the Michigan Wolverines. Go BLUE!
Los Angeles, CA
Reena Patel serves as the Global Managing Partner of Yardstick Management / Diversified Search Group to offer unmatched strategic consulting services to global clients. Reena is a seasoned expert in International Business, armed with a B.Sc from the University of Toronto, an MBA in Finance and Marketing from Plymouth State University, and a Ph.D. from ISM, Paris. Her expertise spans digital strategy, gaming, and consumer products, uniquely blending technology, media, and products for progressive organizational growth.
At Playboy Enterprises Inc (NASDAQ: PLBY), as President of International and Digital, Reena was instrumental in the brand’s global expansion and digital transformation. She was involved in all aspects of its pre- and post-IPO stages and driving projects including those which involved strategic acquisitions, digital transformation, and entry into new global markets. Her experience with Private Equity ownership further solidified her capability to navigate complex business terrains.
In her prior work with International Game Technology (NYSE: IGT), Reena held the executive position of VP of global Licensing. There she was an integral member of the Product team and the senior management committee, driving strategic initiatives and product innovations. She also had additional experience in various roles with Merrill Lynch and Sun Life Investments.
Reena advises two AI tech startups as well as the digital team at Las Vegas Sands Group. She is also co-founder of a membership media company focused on the business of technology, On_Discourse. Reena sits on the Lycee International School of Los Angeles board and volunteers as a Crisis Counselor with The Trevor Project. Reena lives in Los Angeles with her partner, two boys, and three pups where she enjoys beach days, reading, and boxing.
Ayana Parsons is an extraordinary entrepreneur, visionary executive, and charismatic speaker on an unwavering mission to drive global change through inclusive leadership and economic freedom. Her mission in life is to empower generations to reach their full potential, both professionally and personally. She envisions a world where there is a level playing field for all, a world where historically disadvantaged, underrepresented, and marginalized people can rightly take their places in the leadership ranks of business and have equal access to the best quality of life.
She has over two decades of experience as a venture capitalist, organizational consultant, corporate executive, and entrepreneur. Ayana leverages her deep expertise in consumer markets, business strategy, general management, enterprise leadership, board and top team effectiveness, and diversity, equity, and inclusion to help catalyze and drive peak performance in leaders, boards, and enterprises.
She is Co-Founder and General Partner at the Fearless Fund, the first venture capital fund created for women of color by women of color. The fund was formed in 2019 to eradicate the racial and gender disparities that exist in venture capital. Today, the fund has a diverse and dedicated team of committed professionals who have invested $30 million in more than 40 companies, driving substantial economic impact.
Ayana’s expertise paved the way for a remarkable career in leadership consulting. She held influential roles at firms like Heidrick and Struggles and as Senior Partner, Board & CEO Inclusion at Korn Ferry, where she spearheaded the firm’s global commitment to diversifying the ranks of leadership at the highest levels.
Prior to Fearless Fund and Korn Ferry, Ayana co-founded Yardstick Management alongside her husband, Dr. Ebbie Parsons. Yardstick eventually became the nation’s leading Blacked-owned management consulting firm, providing organizational strategy, DEI support as well as talent management expertise to hundreds of distinguished clients. In 2022, Yardstick was named Best in Business in Management Consulting by Inc. Magazine.
As a testament to her commitment to diversity and inclusion at the highest levels, Ayana served as a cabinet member of Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research where she provided invaluable thought leadership on closing the gender gap in corporate boardrooms and in the executive suite. She also served as the Global Head of Retail, Consumer Goods, and Lifestyle Industries at the World Economic Forum where she led the preeminent global discussions in Davos, Switzerland on all topics related to her respective industries.
A seasoned corporate executive, Ayana’s industry career spans sales, marketing, strategy, and general management roles at several of the world’s most admired companies including Philips, Pfizer, Kimberly-Clark, and Procter & Gamble.
Born and raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Ayana attended Oral Roberts University on a Division I basketball scholarship and completed her studies at Florida A&M University, where she earned an MBA in Marketing. Ayana resides between St Maarten, Atlanta and coastal Georgia with her husband, Dr. Parsons, and two young daughters.
Slma Shelbayah is a Marketing, Communications, and Diversity Leader, Consultant, Adjunct Professor, and award-winning former CNN Broadcast Journalist. In 2015, she won the CNN Diversity Ovation Award for her commitment to inclusion in news coverage. She is passionate about diversity, human uniqueness, and unraveling taboo traditions and is dedicated to promoting the voices of under-represented individuals. Her background includes more than 17 years of experience as a journalist, communication, and public relations expert in the media industry, including roles as a reporter, show host, editor, writer, voice-over artist, and producer.
Serving as the Chief Communications Officer at Yardstick Management, Slma oversees the internal and external communications, strategy alignment, marketing, public relations, branding, and communication project management solutions for clients. She spearheaded a communications department leading a creative team responsible for rebranding the company both internally and externally.
Slma is also an Adjunct Professor of Business, Media, and Communications for Clayton State University and has previously taught at Brenau University, Herzing University, and Georgia State University. She teaches courses on public speaking, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, speech, and business communication.
Her prior positions include serving as Director of Corporate Public Relations for Savannah College of Art and Design and a 7-year tenure at CNN serving in the capacity of Producer, Assignment Editor, and Writer working across different departments including, CNN International, CNN Digital Newsource, and CNN Homepage.
Slma was inducted and graduated from LEAD Atlanta’s distinguished and highly selective leadership program, LEAD Atlanta, for the class of 2018. She holds a B.A. in Journalism with a minor in Sociology and an M.A. in Linguistics with a focus on cross-cultural linguistics of Spanish and Arabic, both degrees from Georgia State University. She also obtained a certificate from Oxford University, U.K., during which students were selected from 30 countries across the world to pursue a seminar on global media policy: technology and new themes in media regulations.
Dedicating her time to community service that focuses on media, diversity, and inclusion, Slma previously sat on the Advisory Board for the Harvard Debate Diversity Project inaugural class, an initiative that provides selected high school students with debate training and an opportunity to spend a summer at Harvard College developing their speaking skills. Her life-long involvement with youth is also witnessed through mentoring as she is a board member of UBeyond Mentorship, a non-profit mentoring organization for young youth and professionals. Shelbayah also enjoys giving back to the media industry to further the impact on diversity, culture, and faith, and was previously on the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters.
Dr. Monica Miller-Smith serves as the Director of Research and Impact at Yardstick Management, where she oversees training and development. For nearly fifteen years, she instructed courses in Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Connecticut, University of Bridgeport, and Central Michigan University. She has expertise in diversity, equity, inclusion, low-income populations, civic engagement, and distance education. Some of her most notable academic and education-related experiences are developing a mentoring program that provided service-learning experiences for thousands of elementary students and hundreds of college students in Connecticut, presenting at national and international conferences on civic engagement, economic inequality, and experiential learning, and creating early childhood, socioemotional teacher training and developmental screening assessments to connect families in Nevis, West Indies with speech language and behavior therapy resources.
Her textbook, Families and Children Living in Poverty, was published in March 2020. It explores the factors that contribute to the existence of poverty, as well as the social, developmental, and environmental ramifications of poverty. Through scholarly studies, case studies, historical events, and contemporary happenings, readers examine the connections between poverty and family-related challenges, including adverse childhood experiences, lack of a living wage, health disparities, social exclusion, and homelessness. Monica is currently working on the second edition of her textbook.
Monica earned her Doctorate in Education from the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. She is an avid traveler and has lived in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Puerto Rico, and Nevis, West Indies. She currently lives in St. Simons Island, Georgia with her husband and two daughters.
Dr. Bernard Ashby serves as a Principal Consultant for Yardstick Management. He was born and raised in South Florida by Caribbean parents who were able to instill in him strong qualities such as family values, a strong work ethic, and a love of serving others.
Mays serves as a Diversity Sourcer for Yardstick Management. She brings years of experience recruiting across a variety of industries including Technology and HR with a range of companies based in Palestine, the United States, and several global overseas startups, all whilst actively ensuring diversity and inclusion in their recruitment processes.
Mays holds a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics from Birzeit University, Palestine, and is currently finishing her MA. in Humanitarian Assistance and Crisis Management from SIT Graduate Institution in Vermont, U.S. She currently resides in Amman, Jordan.
In her spare time, she volunteers with several humanitarian agencies working with refugees on issues around human rights and food security. Outside of her professional life, she enjoys going on hikes and traveling as well as spending time with her family and friends.
Reyonia Whipple serves as a Senior Researcher supporting Yardstick’s Executive Search practice. She graduated in 2018 from Lander University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications. Additionally, she served as a Captain of the Lander Volleyball Team, holds her school’s collegiate record for the most number of blocks by a player in a single season, and was named Lander Women’s Volleyball 2017 MVP. Ms. Whipple is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and has served as Vice President of her University’s Chapter. She also graduated cum laude from Lander with her 2018 class. Before joining Yardstick, Reyonia served as a contractor for Delta Airlines, working as a Lead Ground Security Coordinator. She brings the same passionate leadership qualities that made her successful in the classroom, within her sorority, and on the volleyball court to Yardstick and looks forward to even more success.
Outside of her professional interests and accomplishments, Reyonia enjoys spending time with her family and finding new adventures with her many friends, including traveling and playing volleyball whenever she gets the chance.
New York, NY
Gilberto Orozco is a proud University of Michigan and Entrepreneurship alum, currently working as a Consultant and Lead in Data and Consulting Operations. Before joining, Gilberto was involved in the entrepreneurship space — being a part of a team that founded an educational non-profit dedicated to teaching entrepreneurship to kids — for over six years and worked in a lab as a coordinator for the Institute of Social Research, where he analyzed global market trends. Gilberto’s passions lie in global human development and bipartisan policies that improve the longevity of everyone. He enjoys traveling, trains for marathons, and creates elaborate meals for his friends and family in his free time.
Currently at Yardstick, Gilberto has worked on a plethora of projects that involve data visualization and analytics, process enhancement, operations, and research, that results in strategies for NGOs, governmental agencies, and businesses at different stages. Gilberto has managed multiple engagements and worked with global companies like LinkedIn, Panasonic, Coursera, GroupNine Media, Shutterstock, Orange Theory, Medtronic Foundation, and Klaviyo. His support to organizations includes areas in tech, education, non-profits, philanthropy, fitness & health, biotech, food, private equity, and entertainment, providing research and support.
Gilberto is a natural manager, working with C-suite leaders to derive results, having created investing strategies of $50 million with an audience of over 100 million stakeholders. His work in human capital has resulted in the creation of ERG groups, and c-suite-facing frameworks for performance management, system enhancement, and external communications. His data analytics skills include creating pay equity assessments in conjunction with HR business partners, using Excel and Tableau, from the audit to the report stage, resulting in pay adjustments and level-setting roles of employees from companies with +1,000 employees.
Tunbridge Wells, UK
Hazel serves as a Senior Consultant for Yardstick Management.
Hazel has over 15 years of experience representing renowned global brands such as Playboy, McLaren, and World Wrestling Entertainment, in addition to a Silicon Valley technology start-up. Her expertise includes managing strategic partnerships, digital and product licensing, market communications, and key account management.
Prior to joining Yardstick Management, Hazel managed Playboy Enterprises’ strategic partnerships and licensing business for the UK and EMEA across consumer products, international publishing, mobile, and gaming, where she led high-profile brand collaborations including YSL, Coco de Mer, and Missguided.
Hazel holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from The University of Manchester. She resides in Tunbridge Wells in the UK and is passionate about fitness and travel.
Candice Howard serves as a Senior Leadership Executive Assistant for Yardstick Management. As a Senior Leadership Executive Assistant, Candice ensures the smooth operation of the company and is responsible for providing administrative support to the Founder, while managing up and across the organization.
Prior to joining Yardstick, Candice worked as an Executive Assistant for several logistics companies in the greater Atlanta area and the Middle East. Candice was most recently an Executive Assistant for The Panther Group, a cannabis investment company. In addition, Candice had the opportunity to live in Doha, Qatar, and Erbil, Iraq, while serving as a Senior Director of Administration. Candice spent her time there overseeing the completion of missions and serving as a military sub-contractor. This experience introduced her to many cultures and heightened her passion for travel.
Candice was born and raised in East St. Louis, but now she considers Atlanta her home. Candice’s personal interests include strength training, international travel, and reading. In addition to her leisure activities, Candice has a passion for serving her community. She participates in marathons and fundraisers to support autism research. In addition, for the last decade, Candice has hosted her own annual charity events: “Operation Give Thanks” and “Stuff the Stockings.”
Michelle serves as a Brand Strategist for Yardstick Management. Prior to joining Yardstick, Michelle was in the fashion industry for more than 10 years, in roles ranging from design to communications, marketing, and brand management. Her expertise lies in successfully communicating a brand’s essence through design and creative strategies. In the past few years, she started branching out into other industries, creating branding and marketing strategies for restaurants, real estate companies, and bars among others.
Michelle holds a BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons, and a MA in Fashion Communications, Promotion, and Media from Istituto Marangoni London. She also has a diploma in Strategic Branding, Identity, and Brand Experience from Central Saint Martins.
Michelle resides between Quito, Ecuador and Miami, Florida with her family. Outside of professional interests, she enjoys yoga, painting, scuba diving, and traveling as often as she can as her ultimate source of inspiration.
Naima Greenwood serves as Strategic Advisor at Yardstick Management, responsible for managing client projects and providing ongoing thought leadership and consultative support to Yardstick and its partners. Naima served as Yardstick’s Chief Operating Officer previously and was instrumental in Yardstick’s growth and transition into the Diversified Search Group family.
Before joining Yardstick, Naima served as a Senior Manager on a government contract with the Office of Foreign Labor Certification. Naima has a diverse background in Sales and Marketing, Operations, and Retail. Naima is an advisory board member for the College of Business and Information Science at Tuskegee University.
Naima holds a Bachelor of Science degree cum laude in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Florida A&M University and an Executive MBA in Global Business from Georgia Institute of Technology. Naima started her career at Target Corporation as a Business Analyst in their entertainment division. There she collaborated with major movie studios and record labels in managing their releases. She later relocated to Atlanta, GA where she managed a $1 billion domestic landscape business for over 2,200 retail stores for The Home Depot. After completing her Executive MBA, Naima was recruited by Bank of America where she served as an Assistant Vice-President. She oversaw efforts to convert California accounts to a single platform for improved efficiency and reliability and managed a multi-million-dollar project to develop global consumer risk assessment plans for call centers.
Naima resides in Atlanta with her husband Andre, and their daughters, Ava and Aubree. In her spare time, she actively volunteers in a variety of civic and cultural organizations including Habitat for Humanity, and the Andrew & Walter Young YMCA. Outside of professional interests, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.
Jenny Sade is a compassionate, collaborative and intentional people-first leader who harnesses her innate ability to see the power and potential in people to scale and optimize today’s most innovative companies and brands. With 20+ years of experience in operational leadership and talent acquisition and development, Jenny is a highly sought after c-suite advisor and coach to forward-thinking, growth-oriented, values-driven businesses and executives.
Jenny has spent her career building People Operations teams and processes for both public and private companies, focusing on how to attract and retain the right talent, and setting them up for optimal success. Her roles have included supporting and coaching executive teams (collectively and individually) to guide business decisions, including moderating and leading vision setting and planning sessions. In her role as Chief People Officer and Chief of Staff at PLBY Group (the holding company that owns Playboy), she oversaw their growth from 130 to 1400 people, including 6 acquisitions, and taking the company public. Prior to PLBY Group, Jenny spent nearly a decade at RED (a successful digital agency acquired by William Morris Endeavor), helping to create a vibrant creative culture, tripling an employee base that worked with some of the most iconic brands in the world – ESPN, Under Armour, Disney, Samsung and many others.
Jenny thrives when working with high-growth organizations, merging companies, and within complex ecosystems to help make business challenges simple and actionable. Specializing in leadership training, talent management, succession planning, rapid hiring and sequencing, M&A integration, organizational design, DEI programming, inclusive benefit creation, talent attraction and retention strategies, employee lifecycle development, policy creation, and learning and development programs, Jenny approaches all talent challenges with grace, partnership and modernity.
Based in Los Angeles, when Jenny isn’t working or spending time with her husband, she can be found on her Peloton bike, binging reality TV, or listening to true crime podcasts.