By Rowana Abbensetts-Dobson
In this new age of social media marketing where tech rules supreme, the world of advertising has been transformed. The world of Don Draper’s Mad Men, couldn’t be further from advertising today. Not only is everyone working from behind a screen, but Black women have risen to the top of this field, innovating in a space where women of color are traditionally underrepresented. Although the industry has a long way to go, with African Americans in only 4 percent of senior level roles, the tides are changing. Meet these advertising pros who are disrupting the status quo and making waves in the industry.
Judy Jackson – Global Head of Culture for WPP
New York AWE Leader, Judy Jackson, was recently promoted to the Global Head of Culture for WPP. Formerly, she was the Global Chief Talent Officer at Wunderman. Judy is a thought leader in human resources management whose career includes stints as chief talent officer at IPG Mediabrands North America and Digitas, and HR roles at Time Inc. and BBDO.
“Find out what you want your impact to look and feel like. I realized that I needed to be somewhere I could see results, even if my impact was small. I had a dream that I would make an impact and I wasn’t going to be satisfied until I did just that. Working in HR I saw how I could create change in someone’s life for the better and that fulfills my soul. You have to find what works for you. Additionally, it was important for me to learn that not everyone wants to have a huge impact with their work. For some people, it’s simply how they pay the bills. It’s not everyone’s expectation to be truly fulfilled by their job. But for me, I am living my calling!”
Aimee Parker – Digital Marketing Strategist at Precision Media & Designs Loud Rumor
Aimee helps companies get in front of the audience most likely to pay for products or services and entices them to buy. She is heavily sought out for her knowledge and expertise in lead generation. Growing up with entrepreneur parents, Aimee saw the needs of small business owners trying to get their products in front of the right people, which sparked her journey into advertising. She hopes to use her expertise to empower women and minority-owned businesses.
“Study other areas that coincide with advertising and marketing, such as sales. I’ve learned that no matter how good you are as a marketer, if the client you’re working with doesn’t have proper sales process and training, as well as knowledge about customer retention, they will never really be happy. A business can be constantly getting people in the door but if they don’t know how to close and retain, it can almost be a waste of time.”
Malikah Kelly – Senior Marketing Manager at Iconix
Over the course of the past five years, Malikah Kelly has held various cross-functional roles for contemporary and luxury brands. Currently, Kelly serves as Senior Marketing Manager at Iconix. She previously served as the Digital Content Manager at Steve Madden and the Global E-Business Coordinator for Sergio Rossi at their Milan headquarters. In these roles, she was dedicated to developing the brand’s worldwide eCommerce and digital strategy, building business relationships with key wholesale partners, and strengthening the brand presence and perception with consumers. Before launching her career, Malikah Kelly earned her Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology and Human Relations at Pace University in New York. She went on to complete her M.B.A. in Italy, studying Design, Fashion, and Luxury Goods at the Alma Graduate School of the University of Bologna.
“Focus on building your brand and your credibility through side projects, engaging with industry events, guest writing for relevant sites or appearing on podcasts. Have your resume but also a highlight reel or portfolio that will come in handy when you start going out for more senior level positions.”
Tiffany R. Warren, Senior VP, Chief Diversity Officer at Omnicom Group and Founder & President, ADCOLOR
Tiffany R. Warren is Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer for Omnicom Group. She oversees a team focused on Omnicom-wide change efforts for the advancement and retention of top performing talent inclusive of women, people of color and LGBTQ+ in an inclusive work culture.
Recognized as a leader in the field of diversity, Tiffany is a talent strategist with 19+ years of championing diverse professionals in the advertising industry. In 2005, she founded ADCOLOR, which has launched the ADCOLOR Industry Conference, ADCOLOR Awards and ADCOLOR University. As President of ADCOLOR, she is deeply involved in the direction the industry is taking around diversity.
Tahira White, Co-Founder, COO, 19th & Park
Tahira White began making her mark in the heart of Washington, DC’s business arena. Working with several local business owners, she helped establish their operational structures and marketing programming. By 2009, she was ready to take on New York City and produce creative projects for world-renowned designers and brands like Nike, Express, Hermes, Frank Ocean, and many more. Tahira’s passion and drive have produced over 100 creative projects developing a diverse, cross-cultural portfolio of clientele. As a founding partner of 19th & Park, Tahira oversees the company’s infrastructure, development and project execution.
“My key advice is do not limit yourself. Don’t just network with the intent to garner business. Create genuine and enjoyable relationships with your peers – the business will flow. Dig and explore for opportunities. Make yourself available to learn and soak up all the knowledge you can from those that have been in the industry. Work with integrity and respect everyone you meet. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. All of the above will go a long way.”
Kai Lawson, Director of Community Engagement, Global Culture
Kai Deveraux Lawson uses her lifelong passion for culture, and 8 years of experience in advertising, to tell honest stories that shed light on the need for Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace. Her experience led her to launch two culturally focused platforms: Mixed Company Podcast and her blog, Mylifeofkai.com. On these platforms, she shares her first-hand experiences in life, travel and career, from the perspective of a millennial woman of color.
“Everyone likes to talk about the ‘boys’ club, boys’ club, boys’ club.’ It was built for that. And it works. If we want to create this more equitable industry, then we have to create a new model. I don’t think the answer is to dismantle the old model. There’s a lot we can take from it.”
Jessica Starks, CEO & Founder, JD Scribes
Jessica Starks is a creative marketing strategist on a mission to serve others. As the owner of J.D. Scribes, she helps business owners maximize exposure to the right audiences. J.D. Scribes is a homegrown creative marketing company that was designed specifically to aid those who need it most – small and local businesses.
“I first was exposed to the world of advertising and marketing when I earned a position in a company that did advertising for celebrities. I enjoyed what I did, but I wanted to be able to help people back in my hometown and home state promote themselves in this way, too. The desire to help people, my love for writing, and my other creative passions inspired me to start my career. Advertising and marketing are fields where I can bring all of those worlds together and help people improve their livelihoods.”
Tiffany Edwards, Engagement & Inclusion Director at Droga5
Tiffany Edwards is a change agent and an unshakable advocate for diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the creative industry. Since joining Droga5 in 2016 as its first diversity leader, Tiffany has played a pivotal role in the agency’s journey. Her tenacity and focus on ensuring Droga5 upholds its commitment to diversity permeates every aspect of our workplace. From leading internal efforts around diverse talent, agency-wide trainings and policy and practice change, to working with leaders to ensure their pipelines are broad and their workflows are inclusive; launching D5in10 — an award-winning diversity program; building a robust employee-driven community via the D+iQ Committee and getting Droga5 involved in external programs and initiatives that are hard at work making the creative industry more inclusive and diverse, Tiffany’s force comes to life through leadership and actions that have improved the way Droga5—and the industry at large—thinks about and, more importantly, acts around diversity and inclusion.
“A lot of people assume you have to be a person of color to be part of a diversity committee, or you have to be a woman to be part of a women’s committee,” Edwards said, “but everyone should come into the room and join the conversation.”
Stacy Reed, Paid Social Advertising Senior Coordinator at Zappos
Stacy Reed is a dedicated Senior Digital Marketing specialist, providing over 9 years of experience managing large marketing initiatives and multi-million dollar marketing budgets. Over the past 9 years, she has also helped small and large companies grow by turning big, creative ideas into actionable, trackable campaigns. Prior to working at Zappos, she was the Marketing Communications Manager at a $100M annual transportation company managing and executing various go-to-market strategies.
“I’ve learned that finding a good boss that is willing to teach and guide you can propel your career immensely. My advice would be to learn as much as you can and don’t be afraid to speak up. A good idea sets you apart from the crowd. I’m looking forward to growing my career within Zappos but am also looking forward to seeing how the advertising industry grows with emerging industries like cannabis.”
Heide Gardner, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Interpublic Group
Heide Gardner is Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer of the Interpublic Group, one of the world’s leading organizations of advertising agencies and marketing services companies. The first African American and person of color to serve as an officer of Interpublic Group, she is responsible for collaborating with senior management to develop global inclusion strategies and resources for IPG and its family of leading agency brands.
“Representation doesn’t equate with participation. We’re having to deal with tokenism in our work, in as much as we have to deal with it in our workforces.”