One notable omission on the staff, however, is Watson himself. "I've tried to recruit him twice," the governor says, "but he's committed to his business."

"What I have a real passion for is helping people who get overlooked," Watson says. The founder and CEO of the executive search firm, based in Herndon, Virginia, Watson has become one of the most connected African-Americans in the high-tech community around Washington, D.C. He specializes in finding and placing highly skilled minority candidates in high-level slots.

Watson's business is addressing a common lament of seemingly well-intentioned executives: "I'd hire more women and minorities, but I can't find qualified people." Sometimes it's just a dodge; sometimes it's a genuine concern. "We need to talk about 'can't,' " says Watson, 35. "If you want to find talented women and people of color for your organization, you can. But you have to make it a priority."

Watson encourages companies to get serious about diversity not only for reasons of social equity, but also because it's smart business strategy. If you want to satisfy customers from diverse backgrounds, Watson says, you need a diverse mix of employees who are more likely to understand them.