Joelle Hayes, second vice president, diversity, at Travelers, had at one point aspired to become U.S. secretary of education. A
public-policy and educational-studies major at Brown University,
Hayes wrote her thesis on the impact desegregation had on the
“How I ended up in the diversity space [is] not that much of a depar-
ture,” says the senior diversity executive. “My entire career has been
focused on being a voice and advocating for individuals who may not have a
In 1996, Hayes got her start at Wesleyan University as director of multicultural pro-
grams. “At that time, the campus did not have an affirmative-action program … so I had the opportunity to actually
craft the diversity strategy,” she says. Hayes then moved to INROADS, helping to develop and place talented
students from underrepresented groups in jobs, where she built a tremendous network of recruiting colleagues.
Since starting at Travelers nearly three years ago, Hayes continues to draw on those relationships for best practices
and “to build a pipeline of diverse talent.”
As part of Travelers’ educational-access initiative, for instance, Hayes serves as an executive mentor to a student
in Capital Community College. Internally, Hayes has also piloted a diversity educational program, which will be
rolled out to all 33,000 employees over three years “to help them explore their own attitudes toward difference,
engage with everyone and experience and learn to become diversity change agents.”
Hayes was given Brown University’s Young Alumni Service Award for being a
positive role model to students.
Joelle Hayes Travelers
A Passion for Equality, Educating
BY GAIL ZOPPO
Changing What’s Wrong
BY SAM ALI
Diego Sanchez is used to being labeled “the first transgender,” and he doesn’t mind. He’s happy to pave the way.
“If no one is first, then there can’t be a second,” jokes Sanchez, 52, who—yes—is
the first transgender person hired for a senior congressional position on Capitol
Hill and is busy tackling healthcare reform and employment-discrimination
issues as an aide to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.
Sanchez’s extensive résumé boasts 30 years of award-winning experience in
global public relations and diversity management at leading companies such as
Starwood Hotels, No. 39 on The 2009 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity® list, as well as decades of social
justice and civil-rights advocacy.
Sanchez was the luncheon keynote speaker at DiversityInc’s November leadership conference in New York. For
more information, go to www.DiversityInc.com/events.
Sanchez was born a girl in 1957 and knew from a very early age that he should have been born a boy. When
Sanchez was five, he told his parents that he felt he was born wrong—then braced himself for the punishment he
expected would surely follow. It never did. Instead, his mother left the room and returned with a copy of Life
Magazine, featuring a story on Christine Jorgensen—the first transsexual in the United States to publicly announce
her change of sexual identity.
“If it’s OK for her to do this in the 1950s,” his mother told him, “then by the time you grow up and decide to do
this, you will be OK.”
“My parents’ acceptance of me was their way of giving me something they didn’t always get from the world,” he says.
Diego Sanchez Aide to Rep. Barney Frank
© 2010 DiversityInc
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