Diane Bell-McKoy

Meet the CEO

Diane Bell-McKoy is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Associated Black Charities (ABC), a non-profit which focuses on education, policy design and innovative transactional and transformative strategies to eliminate the impact of structural racism and its adverse economic outcomes on the African American community. She came to this role as a well-respected leader and civil servant focusing on equity and inclusion as the key tools for building a strong, vibrant economy for all citizens regardless of race. She is known as a passionate and inspired advocate for moving beyond diversity in an ongoing battle to make equity and inclusion the central tools for achieving economic equality for all.

From the CEO's Desk

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“PNC is dedicated to enriching the lives of people we meet every day and we are happy to continue our partnership with Associated Black Charities to create a more inclusive economy,” said Laura Gamble, PNC Regional President for Greater Maryland. “Diane’s and ABC’s work on understanding and educating our community on the underlying and institutional challenges that perpetuate and further marginalize communities of color, is invaluable now as we see firsthand the disparate impact this crisis has had on communities of color.”


Bell-McKoy launched her public service career in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. region. She then [1] moved to Mayor Marion Barry’s public policy office as a team member for “Changing the Odds,” an early partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and The District of Columbia Government. Following that she served in a number of other roles in D.C. Government prior to joining Baltimore City Government, under Mayor Kurt Schmoke’s leadership.


In Baltimore she led the 1994 launch of the country’s most successful Empowerment Zone, a federal $100 million ten-year investment to develop sustained economic and community development opportunities for residents and businesses in a targeted group of communities in Baltimore City. Under her leadership the program achieved a return on investment of $15 million dollars. It was in this role, she achieved greater clarity about the role of structural racism versus the limitation of success “for a few” as a result of a sustained dollar investment. Former Baltimore and current President of the University of Baltimore, Mayor Kurt Schmoke calls her “a respected leader in Baltimore who is helping to drive the conversation about racial equity and to improve the quality of life for Marylanders.”


In addition to leading ABC, Bell-McKoy is active in the broader community locally and nationally through extensive board engagement and leadership. She was one of the initial co-leaders for the Baltimore Aspen Workgroup for Dismantling Structural Racism, a former Trustee for the Baltimore Community Foundation and the former chair for Humanim.


Ms. Bell-McKoy also served on the National Policy Council for AARP.  She currently serves on the boards of the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC), Baltimore’s Promise, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Maryland Hospital Association (MHA). 

Bell-McKoy was honored by the Baltimore Sun as a 2018 Civic and Business Hall of Fame honoree, and was also named one of the Baltimore Sun’s 25 Women to Watch in 2016.  The Maryland Daily Record has twice recognized her as one of the region’s Most Influential Persons, and she is a member of its Top 100 Women’s Circle of Excellence, signifying an honor for those women who have been recognized at least three different years.


Bell-McKoy was also named one of the Daily Record’s 2017 ICON Award recipients.  This award recognizes Maryland business leaders for their years of notable success and demonstration of strong leadership both within and outside of their chosen field.

She and her team have developed a number of tools for addressing the impact of structural racism and fostering equity and inclusion to create economic strength for all communities. Through their work at ABC, Bell-McKoy’s team has authored, led the research on, and/or collaborated on a number of well-regarded research reports and policy papers or recommendations.  ABC’s most recent research was released in May 2018:  Patterns of Employment by Race in the Baltimore Metro Region and Baltimore City (2016 data).


Recent pieces include a new series of Ten Essential Questions. Available now are The Policy Application for a Racial Equity Lens: Ten Essential Questions for Policy Development Review and Evaluation; 10 Essential Questions for Employers, Business Owners, HR Professionals & Hiring Managers; and Ten Essential Questions for Employers for Racial Equity, Philanthropy: Ten Essential Questions for Racial Equity in grantmaking, policies and practices.


UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski values her bringing a unique combination of research and data driven focus to the fight against structural racism. “We all trust Diane and appreciate her authenticity and passion for social justice.  She has a consistent message in working with all sectors in our community, whether focusing on structural racism or inequality at all levels.”

Ms. Bell-McKoy is a graduate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) for her undergraduate degree and the University of Maryland at Baltimore for her masters, and she has obtained other post graduate training.


Regardless of these accomplishments, she is most proud of her role as wife, stepmother and grandmother.