Vanessa Wakeman, Founder and CEO of The Wakeman Agency, is a futurist, strategic advisor, speaker and facilitator. Her work focuses primarily on the eco-system of social change.
With deep knowledge about the politics of social change and mastery at advancing the efforts of mission-driven causes, she is a trusted advisor to nonprofit organizations and socially responsible companies in the US and internationally. She has successfully led initiatives to support values-driven transformation and communications for boards of directors, leadership, employees and other stakeholder groups.
Vanessa is an increasingly sought after facilitator and speaker. As a facilitator, she ideates strategies to build and restore trust with internal and external audiences, in order to develop ongoing, sustainable practices and communications that strengthen organizational positioning in the marketplace and amongst key audiences. She is highly knowledgeable in developing communication strategies, assessing organizational culture, creating safe spaces for difficult conversations, and helping to build frameworks for organizations to cultivate healthy and equitable environments. During the COVID-19 pandemic and in the wake of the recent racially motivated murders, Vanessa has been called upon by a host of organizations to help them reimagine their organization’s values, culture and operations through the lens of racial justice.
As a speaker, Vanessa has been a keynote presenter, session leader and panelist on topics ranging from philanthropy to thought leadership for women. Recent speaking engagements include UN Women, Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits, Hispanics in Philanthropy, Utah Association of Nonprofits Annual Conference and the Women’s Leadership Institute at Manhattanville College. In 2018, she was profiled in Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership, a book showcasing 40 multi-cultural public relations leaders.
Vanessa has masterminded engagements with Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), UCLA’s Civil Rights Project, The Alliance for Financial Inclusion, Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, The New York Women’s Foundation, Hispanics in Philanthropy, New York Urban League, National Domestic Workers Alliance, The Africa-America Institute, Animal Farm Foundation, ShoreTel, Help for Children, Metropolitan College of New York, Generation, and many others. As a public relations leader and thought leader, Vanessa has been recognized as a Champion of PR by PRWeek and one of 50 Game Changers of PR by PR News.
Vanessa is consistently recognized for evangelizing innovation and disruption to evolve issues and ideas in the pursuit of social justice. She created She Roars, the first thought leadership training program for women and, most recently, launched the Narrative Justice Project, a free media-training program that supports communities of color during crises, by training participants how to effectively communicate with media and other interest groups in an empowered, strategic fashion.
In addition to her work at The Wakeman Agency, Vanessa serves on the Board of Directors of the Public Relations Society of America Foundation and the Commission for Public Relations Education, leading the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee to develop curriculum standards through a multi-cultural lens. She served as Professional-In-Residence at the University of Florida for the 2019/2020 school year. She also hosts The Social Change Diaries Podcast, speaking with today’s game-changing leaders in the social change sector, about real solutions to today’s most pressing problems.