Inaugural Awards to be Presented at Alliance Conference on November 2

Washington, DC (October 6, 2023) – The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance has announced that Maja D. Hazell, Managing Director of D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P. and Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the D. E. Shaw group, and Yusuf Z. Zakir, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, will receive their inaugural 2023 Culture Catalyst Awards.

Created this year, the Culture Catalyst Awards are presented to Talent, Diversity, or Human Resources professionals who have led significant efforts to transform their organizational culture and embrace innovation, inclusion, and/or flexibility. The Awards will be presented on Thursday, November 2 during the Alliance’s annual conference in Washington, DC, Humanizing the Workplace: Thriving Beyond the Global Reset. Registration is open to non-members and is available here.

“Unsung heroes are often at the heart of cultural change in organizations,” said Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. “We created this award to honor the exceptional professionals who are tackling the tough topics, building consensus, and transforming organizational cultures behind the scenes,” said Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance.  “Maja Hazell and Yusuf Zakir are extraordinary leaders who have shown the skills, resilience, and passion necessary to successfully drive cultural change in their organizations.”

Maja Hazell

Since 2021, Maja Hazell has served as Managing Director and Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the D. E. Shaw group, a global investment and technology development firm. Previously she was global head of diversity and inclusion at White & Case LLP, director of diversity and inclusion at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, and an assistant dean for career development at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.

As the first Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the D. E. Shaw group, Maja draws on years of experience to strengthen existing talent practices at the firm, and develop new ones, as both the workplace and workforce evolve. The impact of her work extends to the wider finance and technology industries.

Maja has spent much of her career developing and supporting a diverse pipeline of professionals and has contributed significantly to creating diversity in organizational leadership. Her skills, tenacity and compassion have enabled her to successfully develop inclusive cultures that foster creativity, flexibility, and authentic growth. A trained executive leadership coach and Society for Human Resources Management Senior Certified Professional, Maja is former president of the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals (ALFDP).

“Maja has an incredible ability to garner respect and build consensus and collaboration amongst individuals with differing viewpoints,” said Manar Morales. “She has an impeccable reputation and track record for driving change, guiding future leaders, and creating engaged and inclusive work cultures.”

“I’ve personally benefitted from the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance as champions of practical change and cultural evolution in the workplace. So, it is a particular honor to be recognized with this inaugural Culture Catalyst Award for my career in DEI,” said Maja Hazell. “I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer so that I could use my skills to make a difference for people. Law also opened my eyes to opportunities everywhere in schools, firms, and professional associations to develop high performance cultures that work for everyone.  Diversity, equity, and inclusion drives overall organizational excellence.”

“We brought in Maja as a Managing Director, and our first Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, because we valued her expertise and leadership gained over a long professional career. She challenges our culture to live our commitments to excellence and fairness in making our firm a place where extraordinary people can thrive,” said Eddie Fishman, Executive Committee member, the D. E. Shaw group.

Yusuf Zakir

Yusuf Z. Zakir, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Davis Wright Tremaine, leads his firm’s efforts in building a culture where all attorneys and staff—including those from traditionally underrepresented communities in the legal profession—can be successful. He collaborates with key stakeholders to develop and implement strategies, programs, and initiatives to build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization.

Yusuf’s role at Davis Wright Tremaine has been positioned to allow for influence in important processes at the firm, including Executive Committee meetings, equity partner compensation deliberations, and the partnership admission process. In addition to these big picture opportunities that help bend the trajectory of the firm towards equity and inclusion, Yusuf works one-on-one with firm leaders as they work through opportunities and challenges on their teams. A thought leader in the DEI space, he also partners with clients and external organizations to foster DEI in the broader legal profession.

“Yusuf has been particularly successful at building relationships and collaborating with senior leaders and infusing diversity, equity, and inclusion into all aspects of the firm’s goals and strategies,” said Manar Morales. “Yusuf has a unique ability to persuade his colleagues to be authentic and vulnerable, resulting in a culture that encourages inclusion and allows everyone to thrive.”

“I am truly humbled to be one of the inaugural recipients of this award.  While I am honored to be recognized as a catalyst, my success can only be measured by the success of those around me.  At Davis Wright Tremaine, we have been fortunate to create opportunities for success for many – but there is still much more to be done.  I am fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who care deeply about and are committed to advancing a culture of equity and inclusion.  I am honored to walk alongside them,” said Yusuf Zakir.

“We are incredibly thankful to have Yusuf leading our DEI efforts.  The DFA Culture Catalyst Award is a tremendous and well-deserved honor.  It is a testament not only to his individual efforts, but also to his ability to build a broad coalition of people across our firm who work thoughtfully and intentionally to effect positive change at our firm and within our industry,” said Scott MacCormack, Firmwide Managing Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine.

For more than a decade, the Diversity and Flexibility Alliance has collaborated with organizations to develop inclusive flexible working cultures that cultivate diversity in leadership, drive workplace wellbeing, and foster a more humanized work experience.  The Alliance provides practical research-based solutions, customizable training programs, strategic advisory services and a peer-learning network that increase organizational effectiveness through diversity and flexibility.


Contact: Manar Morales