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Aiko Bethea      

Founder of RARE Coaching & Consulting; Anti-Racism, Diversity & Inclusion Educator & Consultant

Aiko Bethea is a builder, learner, and thought partner. She thrives while working in new spaces, creating novel frameworks. As a thought partner and learner, she enjoys working in partnership alongside her collaborators on a journey towards creating new understandings, learnings, and creative processes.

For Bethea, working in the community has been a way to serve her internal values. She began her career as a grassroots community organizer working in underserved areas similar to the neighborhoods where she was raised. The next natural step in her pursuit of justice was the law. Bethea gained experience as a litigator and then as an attorney for the City of Atlanta. She served on the Government Counsel team, led by Stacy Abrams. As part of Shirley Franklin’s administration, she led the Legislative Counsel legal team, then served as the compliance director for the city where she oversaw federal, state, and local grants.

Bethea was then recruited by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she served for over 7 years as Deputy Director of a compliance team, Grants & Contracts Management. During her tenure, she created the first employee resource groups and led some of the first organization-wide conversations about race, not as part of her job description, but as part of living the core values that she demonstrates in her life and work. Knowing that a critical amount of the foundations’ resources impact black and brown communities, Bethea saw the need to create a space in the void and develop the discourse around issues of race within the organization. This was particularly important to Bethea as this was in 2016, a time of rising public reports of police brutality in the Black community.

Due to a need to remain aligned with her values and anchor into her passion, she made the decision to dive into equity work full-time. She’s consulted for various companies and organizations across the country, including Bristol Myers Squibb, Intuit, Wieden + Kennedy, City of Seattle, PATH, Satterberg Foundation, Starbucks, Theatres for Young Audiences, Uber, and Gap. As a trusted and credible thought partner, Bethea created and implemented the first organization-wide DEI strategy and developed the first diversity and inclusion department at Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center.

Currently, Bethea leads diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for the Brené Brown Education and Research Group. She serves as Sr. Director for Frontline Solutions, a Black-owned and led consulting firm. Bethea is also a faculty member of Hudson Institute of Coaching.

Speech Topics

Transactional vs Transformational DEO

So, You Say You Wanna Be An Ally

Surviving and Thriving as "The Only"


If You Really Care About Equity And Inclusion, Stop Cutting Your ...
In a 2020 Harvard Business Review article written by Aiko Bethea, Bethea writes, “It's time that organizations compensate [employee resource group] leaders for ...

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