Black History Month, and seeing Amanda Gorman and Vice President Harris at the Inauguration, got me thinking of the amazing Black women I’ve had the opportunity to work with, and learn from. That made me want to sing their praises and make sure more people know about them. With no further ado, following in alphabetical order, are talented Black women with whom I’ve had the distinct pleasure to work.
Alexis Kidd. It’s convenient that her name is first in the alphabet because she and I worked together at my first job. I was an Assistant Account Executive at The Weightman Group right out of school, and she was our Traffic Manager with a few years under her belt. Alexis was always the epitome of cool under pressure with an easy-going approach that made you feel like everything was going to be just fine, even if in the moment you thought all was going to hell.
Ashley Estes. Ashley was a colleague of mine at Razorfish. She will always stand out to me for a simple but very smart thing that she did: shortly after we hired her (she was a Sr. Account Manager; I was the General Manager) she set up time with me to ask me what my expectations were for her. She’s the only person who was not a direct report who has ever done that. Put her on my radar immediately. Smart, driven, hard-working, friendly, and a good team player.
Brooke Reynolds. Brooke was also a colleague of mine at Razorfish. She was fairly early on in her Media career, but it was clear that she had a great future in front of her. I’ve enjoyed watching her career unfold at other agencies just as much as I enjoyed working with her and being greeted by her positive attitude no matter how overwhelming a day it may have been.
Deborah Hayes. Deborah has been a client twice, first at Pew Charitable Trust and then at the University of Delaware. She is smart, cool and collected, and has excelled in many different roles and organizations as her resume can attest. More importantly, it was a conversation I had with her over brunch years ago that first made me completely aware of my white privilege. For that alone I am grateful to know her.
Gwen Washington. Gwen was first a colleague, then a client. When we hired her at i-FRONTIER (which eventually became part of Razorfish) she immediately leveled up our professionalism. Later as a client she brought that same professionalism to bear in every interaction. Smart, demanding, and willing to do the hard work by your side. A winning combination.
Khea Bright. Khea was my client when she was at JP Morgan Chase before moving across the country to join Apple. That was a day of mixed emotions. Happy for her big move, supremely sad for me to see her go. When I think of Khea I first think of her quick wit and sly observations. From there I think of her marketing smarts and how she always pushed us to do better work in ways that we didn’t even know we were being pushed.
Lauren Johnson. Lauren worked with me at Shiny before leaving the agency world and heading to CSC. We still miss her. Hired her straight out of school, threw her into the fray, and watched her succeed. Besides consistently meeting all our expectations in her job, she also brought a lot of fun ideas to our culture that we continue to this day. She’s a lovely, kind woman, with a big heart, and a lot of talent.
Lischele Adams. Like Gwen, Lischele was first a colleague, then a client. Beyond that she got me involved in helping The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, where she is on the Board. Lischele is one of those individuals who speaks softly, and everyone listens. Knows her stuff, knows when to asks for help, and has an easy way about her that just makes it so nice to be in her company.
Sandra Grandsoult. I met Sandra through our work on Lutron. She has led many research and insight projects for them, that have been a huge help as we work through messaging. Whip smart and energetic, she makes any project smarter and more entertaining. Plus, I always learn something new when I work with her. What’s better than that?
If you have the opportunity to work with, or for, any of these women, you should.
I wish I could go on for pages. But the reality is, after over 30 years in this business, that pretty much wraps up the list of professional Black women I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with as my colleague or client. Which is a visible example of why this industry has a problem with diversity. And why all of us in a position to hire need to both inspire Black women to get into this crazy business, and then hire them and give them the chance to shine, as all the women on this list do. It matters.