The Monarchs Collective

Changing the Complexion of Boards and Leadership

With a mission to break old systems and networks, The Monarchs Collective was established to identify and onboard diverse talent.

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Former Chairman and CEO of BET Networks, Debra L. Lee, has co-founded a consulting firm to find, grow, and elevate qualified women and people of color for boards and leadership roles. 

What is the mission of The Monarchs Collective?

We're in business to increase representation in board rooms and corporate leadership.  We marry the principles of DEI with the purpose of each organization.  Now that the business case and value of diverse leadership is clearly embraced, we partner with companies and executives to make it easier to discover, develop, and promote exceptional women and BIPOC executives. 


What inspired the launch of this business now?

After the killing of George Floyd, many companies responded by quickly producing PSAs and donating money to social justice causes, but consumers saw that these same companies were decidedly not diverse at the board and senior leadership levels.  When asked, companies often reply, “We can’t find any women or BIPOC -- or, if we do, they’re not board-ready."  My co-founder, Rabia de Lande Long, and I are both businesspeople and we thought we could be helpful.  We were both frustrated by this perceived lack of qualified candidates because we know so many extraordinary professionals.  We launched The Monarchs Collective to break these old referral systems and networks.  


What differentiates The Monarchs Collective from other organizations in this space?

I’m a lawyer by training and bring a career of operational experience in a complex media environment along with 20-years of board service and leadership.  Rabia is an MBA whose experience has been in the boardroom and C-suite as a management consultant, executive coach, and a board member.  Together, we can design and deliver customized solutions that reflect a company’s unique culture, corporate strategies, and business complexities to ensure that they are prepared for the implications of greater diversity, and that diverse talent is enabled to make a meaningful impact and flourish.  


How does partnering with the Monarchs Collective help companies grow their business?

We are solving the challenge for both companies and prospective board members.  For companies, we help accelerate and amplify the impact of extraordinarily talented women and BIPOC executives on boards and in leadership.  And we help companies create measurable and sustainable systems for engaging, retaining, and optimizing diverse talent and teams.  For executives seeking board seats or C-suite positions, we help build their capabilities, confidence, and peer community, and match them with opportunities.  It’s a win all around as companies will get a greater return on their diversity and belonging efforts while also elevating the community.


Research has proven diversity drives better business outcomes. What about this narrative isn't widely shared?

Changing the complexion of leadership creates incredible value and businesses with diverse boards and leadership teams perform better.  We know it takes vision and discipline to work in new ways, and it starts at the top.  We want to help companies change their culture and work with boards to make diverse candidates more comfortable.  We have the expertise to design and support these efforts.


What surprises people about board recruitment?

Most people think you have to be a sitting or retired CEO to join a corporate board.  Times are changing and companies now recognize the value of candidates with expertise across a range of domains such as cybersecurity or international operations.


What are the next steps for companies or candidates who want to start a conversation?

We invite you to join our community at and to contact us at  Tell us what your challenges are, and we’ll be in touch to accelerate your efforts. 

Co-Founder DEBRA L. LEE

I've learned from my experience on boards over the years that first of all, having one or two diverse board members changes the culture of the boardroom.
Co-Founder DEBRA L. LEE

With 20 years of public board service across various companies among the Fortune 100 and after 13 years as Chairman & CEO of BET Networks, the Wall Street Journal recognized Debra as "show[ing] women how to run the world.” One of only three recipients, alongside Janet Jackson and Tyler Perry, of the BET Ultimate Icon Award, The Monarchs Collective reflects Debra’s pioneering commitment to accelerating the representation of people of color and to achieving board and C-suite gender parity.