Maurice A. Stinnett

Maurice A. Stinnett, vice president of diversity and inclusion for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, stands near a photo of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Indiana Tech.

Religion has served as a great influence in the life of Maurice A. Stinnett, the first African-American man named vice president of diversity and inclusion for an NBA team.

Raised in poverty by a teenage mother in Ohio, “I had a church family and community leaders. They instilled in me self-worth,” said Stinnett after speaking Jan. 23 at Indiana Tech’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration breakfast.

Stinnett went on to earn a bachelor of arts in business from Central State University, a master of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and a master of education and doctor of education and organizational leadership from Columbia University.

The divinity degree opened his understanding of how different religions impacted communities.

Stinnett now works for BSE Global, which owns and operates venues such as the Barclays Center, and sports franchises including the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

What is diversity to Stinnett?

“Ensuring equal access, opportunities and support for everybody to realize their highest potential,” he said.

His job is to serve as a sounding board, he said, for how the teams engage the community. The times he’s given direct advice to players “it’s more understanding where their interest lies.”

Stinnett would like to say that society’s views of African-American youth and men have changed since he was growing up, but unarmed men of color have repeatedly been killed by police and are disproportionately incarcerated, he said.

In today’s multicultural world, Stinnett advises that everyone “Pause and practice curiosity. It causes you to face your own biases. Override your natural assumptions.”

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