Esther Silver-Parker is President and CEO of The SilverParker Group, a consultancy specializing in diversity, corporate social responsibility, reputation, strategic philanthropy, stakeholder relationships and leadership development.
Before opening her firm in 2010, Silver-Parker served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., where she was charged with the strategic planning and execution of the company’s corporate responsibility, reputation, and relationships among key national and international stakeholders. She also focused on issues that impact emerging markets and small businesses. Prior to this position, she served as Senior Vice President of Diversity Relations for Wal-Mart and was responsible for the strategic planning and execution of the company’s diversity strategy. She was a leader in establishing Wal-Mart’s Office of Diversity. She developed the company’s first diversity and inclusion strategy, grew supplier diversity procurement by $3 billion dollars, established a corporate external advisory council, developed Wal-Mart’s first stakeholder summit and developed a focus on the multicultural customer. She is recognized for her work in transforming Wal-Mart’s reputation. She received Wal-Mart’s Trailblazer Award. Upon her retirement, Wal-Mart established a scholarship in her name at Wake Forest University School of Business to support multicultural business students.
Prior to joining Wal-Mart, Silver-Parker served 28 years in various public relations functions for AT&T, including Vice President of Corporate Affairs and President of the AT&T Foundation. She also directed AT&T’s National Constituency Relations and Issues Management Departments and led the company’s award-winning Corporate Social Responsibility programs, including programs that grew the number of women and diverse people in such disciplines as engineering, business, arts production and small business development. Silver-Parker led AT&T’s public relations field offices in the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic and the Southeast. She designed and implemented the plan to increase AT&T’s presence in local communities in the U.S., and developed the design for AT&T’s field public relations organizations worldwide. She established AT&T’s first corporate affairs operation in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, developed the company’s first stakeholder relations organization and consumer panel. Other functions she led at AT&T include regional media relations, employee communications, consumer affairs, and executive communications to associates. She also worked for New York Telephone, where she implemented a strategy to cut customer complaints by 85 percent. She was the recipient of the Catherine Cleary Award, the highest leadership honor AT&T gives to an employee.
Silver-Parker also worked as an assistant and associate editor for Essence Magazine and served as managing editor of the Review of Black Political Economy.
A corporate leader of noted impact, she has served in leadership and volunteer positions for over 50 national and international nonprofit organizations. She developed a next generation women’s leadership organization in South Africa and has directly supported programs to assist women of color in completing their college education. She developed and secured funding for a national leadership program for women and minorities called America’s Leaders of Change, which is managed by the National Urban Fellows organization. She currently serves on the boards of the Bentonville Film Festival, Champions for Kids, Spelman College, The NAACP Special Contributions Committee, The United States Tennis Association Diversity Board and the Southern Tennis Association Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Leadership Institute at Bennett College and the International Women’s Forum Foundation. She also serves as the global ambassador for the International Women’s Forum. She served for two years as president of the International Women’s Forum, a global women’s leadership organization with 6,000 members and chapters in 30 countries and led the organization into a new era of global expansion. She grew the organization’s presence in Europe and North Africa. Additionally, she grew IWF’s Executive Development Roundtable Series across four continents, in North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa. She also raised the single most individually-driven funding support for the organization in its 28 year history.
As president of the National AIDS Fund, she successfully led the organization out of bankruptcy to sustainability; and, she wrote the first diversity and inclusion strategy for the United States Tennis Association.
She also serves on the Women’s External Advisory Council for Deloitte, The Diversity Council for AARP, The Advisory Council for Honda North America and Deloitte. She previously served on the Wal-Mart,Inc. Advisory Council. Her past boards include the High Museum, The Global Foodbanking Network, Theatre in the Square and Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta. She also served as the Chair of the Georgia Council for the Arts. She was instrumental in helping establish the National Black Arts Festival and the Atlanta Business Council for the Arts. She has also served on the boards of the Dance Theater of Harlem and the Education Committee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She speaks on arts as a convener of diverse perspectives and arts as an economic lever.
Silver-Parker has traveled in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America to study, write and speak about the health conditions and quality of life of women and children. She is a frequent speaker on issues pertaining to women, education, empowerment, diversity and inclusion, corporate social responsibility, strategic philanthropy and public relations operations. She has been featured in books on leadership, including “Yes, I Can Do That”, “Do Your Giving While Living,” and “Organizational Champions.”
Silver-Parker received a Masters in Journalism from Columbia University School of Journalism and a Bachelors of Arts, Magna Cum Laude, in Political Science from North Carolina Central University. She is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University’s Executive Management Program and holds an Honorary Doctor’s in Humane Letters from Benedict College.
Silver-Parker has received more than 80 awards for community service and leadership, including Ebony Magazine’ Outstanding Women in Corporate Marketing, The Congressional Black Caucus Unsung Hero Award, The Georgia DECA Award for Outstanding Businesswoman, The Harlem YMCA Black Achievers in Industry Award, New York City Gus D’Amato Community Service Award, The Atlanta Business League’s Outstanding Corporate Person Award, The100 Black Men of America Corporate Excellence Award, The 100 Black Men Lifetime Achievement Award, The National AIDS Fund’s Leadership Award, The Asian Pacific Islanders Women’s Leadership Starfish Award, The Latino Community Development Award, two Native American Blankets, Alpha Kappa Alpha President’s Spirit of Business Award, Just Communities Humanitarian of the Year Award, The Links Spirit Award, The National Coalition of 100 Black Women Torchbearer Award, The Diversity Advocate of the Year Award, The Martin Luther King Lifetime Achievement Award, The National Action Network Corporate Excellence Award, the National Urban League Gammon Award for Corporate Citizen, Women In Entertainment Corporate Citizen Award, and the International Women’s Forum Leading Light Award.
She is married to Attorney Ronald I. Parker and they have one son, Jamal O. Parker. She is a member of Saint James Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.