People28 powerful Black leaders in marketing and media

The inaugural list of powerful leaders in marketing, advertising, public relations and media.
Marcom Weekly StaffMarch 8, 2021344 min
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Having control and influence over people and events is a key attribute of being a powerful leader. Today’s leaders in marketing communications and media often climb corporate ladders despite racial bias and other red tape. They are recognized champions, titans and trailblazers not only in their profession but also  within their communities and Marcom Weekly recognizes their contributions. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most recognized leaders who have demonstrated extraordinary success in the industry, influence teams and are trusted by the c-suite. More importantly, their work continues to contribute back to people of color in meaningful ways. Marcom Weekly is proud to announce its inaugural list of 28 Powerful Black Leaders in Marketing and Media.

This year’s list of luminaries include American businessman Byron Allen, Clubhouse app superstar TerDawn DeBoe, New York Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones, chief marketing boss Bozoma Saint John, and many more.

Byron Allen

Allen is the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of the U.S. entertainment company Entertainment Studios, the parent company of The Weather Channel and theGrio. His company has since hired White House correspondent April Ryan and flipped Light TV network to theGrio TV, in addition to being available in 11 major markets including New York and Atlanta. Allen grew Entertainment Studios into the first Black-owned multi-platform media studio producing and distributing wide-release motion pictures including “47 Meters Down,” “Hostiles,” and “Arctic Dogs.” Following protests against racial injustice last summer, it was announced that Comcast and Charter Communications settled multi-billion-dollar racial discrimination lawsuit raised by Entertainment Studios. Allen has been recognized by numerous organizations for his accomplishments in business and entertainment including Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs, NATPE and the Los Angeles Urban League. 

Will Campbell

Campbell is co-founder and CEO at Quantasy + Associates, an award-winning creative agency. He built an impressive client roster including Honda, Google, and Wells Fargo as well as Steve Harvey, Kevin Hart and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Campbell’s company worked closely with Steve Harvey in re-launching his television talk show, through ‘Harvey’s Hundreds’ app when it moved to Los Angeles. Numerous industry awards recognize Campbell’s unique blending of advertising, technology, entertainment and culture. Inc.  recognized Quantasy as one of America’s fastest growing private companies in 2018. He is a member of the Empowerment Congress 40 under 40, and more recently, was appointed to the Los Angeles County Small Business Commission where he provides ongoing advice and support to the LA County Board of Supervisors as they shape economic policy to benefit small businesses.

Gary Coichy

Coichy is the founder and head of partnerships for Pod Digital Media, a podcast agency network to bridge the gap between advertisers and multicultural podcasters. The network, which represents more than 400 Black, Hispanic, Asian and other multicultural podcasts, launched the first-of-its-kind app (“Pod Digital Media”) during Black History Month in the Apple App store. Through his company, Coichy inks deals for NFL legend Takeo Spikes, NBA star Aaron Gordon, Angela Yee and many more. Following George Floyd protests, Gary issued a public letter calling on advertisers to support Black voices by investing long-term with Black podcasters. Advertisers including AT&T, Grey Goose, Talkspace, and are now among his clients. Gary was previously named an Ad Age 40 Under 40.

TerDawn DeBoe

DeBoe is CEO and creative director of the digital marketing company Creative Thought Solutions. In addition to running her YouTube channel, hosting “Ideas That Shape the World” podcast, she is also a rising star on Clubhouse where she helps new business leaders get acclimated to the platform. Through her company, DeBoe works with entrepreneurs and businesses including AT&T, The Urban League of Greater Cleveland, Caesars Casino to set up automated ways to attract, nurture, and convert their ideal audiences. She has also developed partnerships with corporations and organizations including Microsoft and the Young Entrepreneur Institute. 

Julie Dixon

Dixon is the managing director for PR Talent where she leads recruiting and management for its southeast region. Previously, she led strategic retail and consumer communications as deputy managing director at Golin for McDonald’s before becoming executive director for diversity and inclusion recruitment. Dixon was inducted into the North Carolina Hall of Fame for her leadership in communications, boasts more than 27 years in the business and is a recognized authority on media relations, diversity & inclusion strategy, recruiting and advertising.

Joi Garner

Garner is the executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for THINK450, the marketing and licensing division of National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Inc. Garner leads THINK450’s operations and corporate governance compliance. She was the lead negotiator on NBPA’s largest licensing deals, including those with Take-Two Interactive (NBA2K), Nike and Panini America. Garner was also instrumental to the NBPA’s partnerships with Anheuser-Busch as well as the NBPA’s social-justice initiatives with DoorDash’s #PayItForward challenge supporting Black-owned businesses and Kia Motors holiday campaign to provide much-needed relief to families impacted by the pandemic. She was once named to the Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars list and to the National Black Lawyers’ Top 40 under 40.

Cheryl Grace

Grace is senior vice president, global marketing, shopper and consumer engagement at NielsenIQ. She is the architect behind Nielsen’s African American Consumer Report, now in its 10th edition, which explores the power of the Black community from moments to movements. She also co-leads Women in Nielsen employee resource group and is a distinguished mentor within the company. Grace recently made headlines after filing a discrimination lawsuit against Nielsen. In 2019, she was honored by She Runs It’s Changing the Game Awards for using data to drive the conversation about the buying power of multicultural audiences. In addition to her career achievements, Grace gives back through mentorship and classes offered on her website powerfulpenny.com.

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Jones covers racial injustice as a domestic correspondent for The New York Times Magazine. She conceived and directed The 1619 Project, a special ground-breaking issue tracing the central role Black Americans played in the success of U.S. industry and democracy. The project earned Hannah-Jones a Pulitzer Prize and much critical acclaim. Jones has written on federal failures to enforce the Fair Housing Act, the resegregation of American schools and policing in America. She previously reported on educational and race inequities for The News & Observer and The Oregonian before becoming an investigative reporter at ProPublica. Hannah-Jones is also co-founder of the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting.

Carol Haynesworth

Haynesworth is head of multicultural strategy and inclusion at Carmichael Lynch. She previously served as vice president/executive director, diversity, equity & inclusion for IPG Mediabrands and senior consultant for corporate social responsibility at NBCUniversal. Haynesworth wrote “Co-author of Your Great Destiny,” a book about how ordinary people become extraordinary. In it, she references her meeting a not-yet-famous Anthony Facci as one of the featured individuals in her book. As a marketing executive, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Haynesworth previously founded and ran Flourish & Bloom Entertainment (FBE), a premiere management agency, where she worked with the Lisa Lopes Foundation, Usher’s New Look Foundation, and the International Governance Alliance in Uganda. In addition, Her storied career as a marketing executive includes stops at Mattel, Cartoon Network Latin America, Turner Broadcasting, and The Economist. 

Lesleigh Irish-Underwood

Irish-Underwood is MetroPlusHealth’s first chief brand and external relations officer. Focused on amplifying stories of triumph over adversity, she has served United Way of New York City for seven years as its senior vice president and chief marketing officer, driving B2B and B2C brand awareness. She is a member of the CMO Council’s North America Advisory Board—composed of prominent marketing executives and thought leaders from a diverse range of industries and globally known brands. Irish-Underwood previously worked in a variety of marketing, advertising and promotion roles for several world-class publishing brands including Random House, Golden Books, Kensington Publishing and DK Publishing.

Damon Jones

Jones is the chief communications officer of Procter & Gamble, after holding a variety of roles beginning as a communications manager in 1997. The 24-year company veteran, played a key role in advancing conversations about racial bias through campaigns including “The Talk” and “The Look.” While the ads were controversial, the brand stood behind them and also earned top industry recognition from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Jones previously served as vice president of global communications and advocacy after leading communications roles in Asia and Europe. Jones also sits on the board of directors for the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority.

Veronica Marshall

Marshall is the vice president for consumer marketing at MSLGroup where she represents InvisAlign and Mark Anthony Brands International products including White Claw, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Cayman Jack. Marshall has managed award-winning campaigns for some of the world’s most admired brands and individuals including, Audi of America, Walmart, M&M’s, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, and more. In 2020, she founded The Humanity Lab to amplify, galvanize and impact the anti-racism, pro-humanity agenda. The Lab features a global collective of pro-bono creators, storytellers, digital natives and data miners who desire to give back. Outside of the office, Marshall mentors, lectures, speaks, and is a facilitator at various universities and events.

Scott Mills

Mills is president of BET Networks, representing a 20 year history of working at parent company Viacom. Recently, Mills expanded BET’s platform by creating programming to address Black civil rights. Under his leadership, BET raised aired specials “Justice Now: A BET Town Hall,” and “Saving Ourselves,” a special that raised more than $17 million for COVID-19 relief efforts. He’s also brought together top leaders in media, entertainment and technology for the META Conference. Previously, Mills served as Viacom’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer. In that role, he was responsible for human resources, media technology services, real estate, programming acquisitions, facilities and security. Mills previously served as chief operating officer and chief financial officer for BET Networks and oversaw the launches of Centric and BET.com.

Ukonwa Ojo

Ojo is chief marketing officer of Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Studios and a force in the business world. She has more than 20 years of advertising and marketing experience and has been recognized with over 50 awards and honors for driving outstanding market leading results and delivering creative campaigns/innovations that motivate people to act. She previously served as MAC Cosmetics’ chief marketing officer. Prior to joining the world famous cosmetic company she oversaw marketing strategy for brands including Betty Crocker, Cheerios, Durex and French’s. Throughout her career she has forged partnerships with online influences and companies to connect with consumers in meaningful and memorable ways. She is one of Business Insider’s Most Innovative CMOs, AdAge 50, AdAge A-List, Adweek 50, WWD Brand Builder of the Year, WFA Global Marketer of the Year List and Financial Times Upstanding 100.

Cheryl Overton

Overton is a creative strategist, agency leader and communications entrepreneur with 20 years of agency and entrepreneurial experience of helping brands, corporations and influencers navigate integrated and inclusive marketing. Overton runs her own consultancy, Cheryl Overton Communications, a woman and minority-owned consultancy that provides business solutions and crafts persuasive stories that drive culture. She also serves as board chair of non-profit viBe Theater Experience, which provides underserved women and girls the opportunity to share and perform stories based on their life experiences. She has been a champion of diversity throughout her career and has led award-winning campaigns furthering inclusion for corporations such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, American Heart Association and has led corporate DEI efforts for Starbucks and Astellas among others. Prior agency leadership experience includes Egami Group, Zeno Group, Ogilvy PR and Edelman. Awards for her work include an Emmy, Cannes Lion (Grand Prix), Silver Anvil, Adcolor, Gold Pencil, Gold Sabre, IPRA, Shorty Award, PR Week and PRSA Big Apple “Best of the Best” award.

Tyler Perry

Perry is a playwright, actor, screenwriter, producer, and director. He is the mastermind behind 17 feature films, 20 stage plays, seven television shows, a New York Times bestselling book, Tyler has built an empire that has attracted audiences and built communities, from the Tyler Perry Studios home base in Atlanta, Georgia, throughout the world. In 2015, Tyler Perry Studios was home to the production of over 15 films and almost 800 episodes of Perry’s five television series. Today, it is now home to more than 330 acres and has conceived more than 400 job opportunities to the Atlanta community across Perry’s productions, inclusive of major feature films and television shows. Perry and his foundation have donated millions of dollars to organizations addressing homeless, civil rights, and natural disasters including Charity Water, Feeding America and the NAACP. He received The People’s Choice Humanitarian Award and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2021 Oscars. Recently, he offered his home and private security team to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during their transition to the U.S. 

Charles K. Poole

Poole is an author, podcaster, and award-winning communications executive, and counselor. He is the creator and host of the “PooleProof Wisdom,” a podcast of discussions about interests related to faith, self-help, personal development, self-awareness, and inner strength. He is also the author of “I Am My Own Cause,” a book series about life experiences that taught him that life is a gift, hope is a blessing, and gratitude is essential to personal growth. He is currently the chief communications officer and vice president, marketing and public relations at Prospect Medical Holdings.

Joy Reid

Reid is currently an American cable television host, MSNBC national correspondent, and political commentator. She is a journalist, writer, documentary filmmaker, and former talk radio producer and radio host. She is the author of “Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons and the Racial Divide, (September 2015), and producer of upcoming films via Imagelab Media Group. In 2018, she was recognized by The New York Times to have emerged as a ‘heroine’ of the anti-Trump ‘resistance’. That same year, she was nominated for three NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards. In 2016, she received the Women’s Media Center’s Carol Jenkins Visible and Powerful Media Award. She was also a 2003 Knight Center for Specialized Journalism fellow.

Bozoma Saint John

Saint John is an American businesswoman and marketing executive who is the current chief marketing officer (CMO) at Netflix. Over the course of her career, she has earned a formidable reputation as a trailblazing brand marketing executive and change agent with almost 20 years of experience that spans multiple industries including digital music/entertainment, consumer packaged goods, fashion, sports and automotive. Saint John has been recognized for her breakthrough work by both the industry and her peers, having been inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Achievement. She was named 2016’s Executive of the Year by Billboard Magazine, featured in Fortune Magazine’s Disruptors, Innovators & Stars 40 Under 40 feature, Billboard’s Top Executives 40 Under 40 and Power 100 lists, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, Ad Age’s 50 Most Creative People, Ebony Magazine’s 100 Powerful Executives, Black Enterprise’s Most Powerful Women in Business, and made the cover of AdWeek as one of the most exciting personalities in Advertising, and the cover of Working Mother magazine. Some of her philanthropic efforts include raising funding for cancer research, serving on the Leadership Council for the United Nation’s partnership with the PVBLIC Foundation, serving on the board of Girls Who Code, and Vital Voices; as well as an executive mentor for the Levo League.

Adrianne C. Smith

Smith is a creative, entrepreneur, senior executive and thought leader whose career spans 20 plus years in advertising, media and professional development. She is the first global director of inclusion and diversity at WPP and founder of the Cannes Can: Diversity Collective, an non-profit organization focused on bringing the voices of people of color to advertising, marketing, and creativity. In 2019, she made history by creating the first standalone Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Beach in the festival’s 66 years of existence. Previously she was the executive director of the Center for Excellence in Advertising at Howard University. Smith’s career has been based on creating opportunities for underrepresented communities. She has created and produced documentaries, television programs and participated in the launch team for a digital sub-television network. Her advocacy work includes founding Vision Corpos Media Group, a media company that creates new content for current and emerging media outlets. 

Lincoln Stephens

As co-founder of The Marcus Graham Project, Stephens pursues his passion for bringing more diversity to the advertising industry through mentorship, exposure and career development. He expanded the organization to launch Locomotus, an on-demand talent and resource platform. In teaming up with Adrienne C. Smith, Stephens brought young professionals of color to the Cannes Lions Festival, under Cannes Can: Diversity Collective. He has also worked with top consumer brands including Frito-Lay; Pepsi; Cadillac; Hummer; Chevrolet; and Coca-Cola and was named to Ad Age’s 40 under 40.

Justin Stucey

Stucey is an experiential producer, event designer and show manager who leads Meow Wolf as its associate show manager. He previously rocked the Denver Zoo as creative director, breathing life into the legend of Bigfoot through an interactive theater experience. For more than a decade, Justin has led an array of creative ventures. Within that time, he has directed a documentary short film and animated short as well as produced live events at New York’s Guggenheim Museum and for MTV. An adventure-filled career path has led him around the globe to learn and work with a variety of organizations including Alley Theater; Santa Fe Opera; MTV; Princess Cruises; BMW Americas; Feld Entertainment and others.

Mike Tatum

Tatum is a demand generation manager at SurveyMonkey and managing partner at Tatum Digital. He previously worked for Compass as a marketing advisor where he managed regional brand campaigns, including multi-channel campaigns in print, OOH, and digital advertising, which resulted in new transactions achieving a strong brand lift in the region. Throughout his career, he has held roles such as marketing coordinator, junior media planner/buyer and digital marketing manager, in which roles he has helped companies develop their digital marketing strategies, strategic media placements for clients and product marketing.

Kwame Taylor-Hayford

Kwame Taylor-Hayford is a co-founder of Kin, a creative company using kinship to unleash business and culture as forces for good. He led creative on multi-award-winning ads, as co-founder of non-profit Saturday Morning, for “The Look,” on behalf of P&G. Founded in 2019, Kin’s clients include Mailchimp, Delta Airlines and Conservation International. Prior to launching Kin, Kwame was managing director of brand for Chobani where his team was named In-House Agency of the Year by Ad Age. Earlier in his career, Kwame was a Partner at Sid Lee and led teams at Anomaly and Saatchi & Saatchi in New York. His work on global assignments for Apple, Nike, Facebook, Uniqlo, P&G, Spotify, Adidas, and others, has garnered numerous awards from D&AD, Cannes, ADC, AICP, One Show, ANDY, Clios and EFFIE. Kwame is a founding member of the NYC Mayor’s Creative Council and an inductee into the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Achievement. 

Tiffany Warren

Warren is an executive vice president at Sony Music Group and the company’s first-ever chief diversity & inclusion officer. Warren is a leader in the field of diversity, championing diverse professionals in creative industries over her 20-plus years working in creative industries. Best known for founding Adcolor, she led the organization’s mission to teach new leaders and would-be-mentors how to reach back and find others in the industry who deserve to be noticed and promoted. Through her events, Adcolor creates community among diverse professionals to support and celebrate each other. Ad Council, GLAAD, AAF, MAKERS The Ghetto Film School are among the boards of directors she has served. Prior to joining Sony Music Group, Warren served as Omnicom Group’s chief diversity officer for more than 10 years.

Lauren Wesley Wilson

Wilson is the founder and CEO of ColorComm, Inc., the nation’s leading women’s platform addressing diversity & inclusion across the communications, marketing, advertising, and media industries. Wilson grew the organization into a holding company for ColorComm Network, ColorComm Media Group, and Men of Color in Communications. Since 2011, the Network has grown to include chapters in New York; Washington, DC; Chicago; Atlanta; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Dallas; Houston; Miami; and London. Wilson previously served on the Glass Lions Jury at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France and was named to PR WEek’s 50 Most Powerful in PR, Ad Age Women to Watch and PR Council’s Diversity Champion Award.

James Winston

Winston is the president of National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) and a partner at Rubin, Winston, Diercks, Harris & Cooke, LLP, a law firm in Washington, D.C. that provides legal services to businesses, individuals and non-profit organizations in the U.S. and internationally. He founded the organization in 1976 together with a small group of African-American broadcasters who desired to establish a voice and a viable presence in the industry and to address specific concerns facing African-American broadcasters. NABOB is the first and only trade organization representing the interests of African-American owners of radio and television stations across the country. The association was organized in 1976 by a small group of African-American broadcasters who desired to establish a voice and a viable presence in the industry and to address specific concerns facing African-American broadcasters.

Kai Wright

Wright is a lecturer at Columbia University and a partner at Ogilvy. He is an author, speaker, strategy advisor, and the founder of blacklist100, a website profiling top Black leaders across industries including marketing, media, STEM and health care. In his book, “Follow the Feeling: Brand Building in a Noisy World,” he helps busy executives, founders, and celebrities grow their brand by applying communication & marketing strategies. He often speaks at Fortune 500 companies, conferences, and schools and has worked in communication/strategy roles for Diddy’s REVOLT television network, as well as agencies including Porter Novelli, Organic, and Ogilvy. Wright is recognized as a leader by Forbes (30 under 30), Adweek, Inc., C-Suite Quarterly, and the Advertising Research Foundation.

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