Vanessa Wakeman named to City & State New York’s 2020 “The Power of Diversity: Black 100” list

Dear Friend,

I am honored to be recognized for my work in City & State New York’s 2020 “The Power of Diversity: Black 100” list, highlighting influential Black leaders in New York. People so often negate the power of communications and the many ways it is crucial to catalyzing change, but being on this list challenges that thinking, and re-affirms the timeliness and urgency of my work. I am excited to see a representation of its influence, particularly as related to social change.

The events of 2020 have brought an onslaught of pain for communities of color. But like the other leaders on the Black 100 list, I am driven to fight more strategically for sustainable, systemic change. Since my early act of activism at age 15, when I organized food workers at my first job to demand better working conditions, I have been inspired to disrupt and dismantle archaic, oppressive systems. This passion motivated my founding of The Wakeman Agency in 2003—and drives me to keep evolving new ways to manifest impactful change.

As the Covid-19 pandemic and racial reckoning in our country beckons us all to think about our next normal, I welcome the new demands on, and responsibilities of, my agency. We will continue to serve as trusted advisors to our clients, deepening our work in strategic communications, event management, and of special urgency, diversity, equity and inclusion support for nonprofits and socially responsible corporations. My commitment to this work goes beyond the engagements with our clients. I am equally dedicated to the social justice programs we’ve created to meet this pivotal moment in our shared history:

The Narrative Justice Project is a tactical response to structural racism and misrepresentation in the media. This project offers free media training to people of color, empowering them to reclaim the narrative and tell their own stories in a way that represents the fullness of their humanity and experience.

Earlier this month, we launched Louder Than Words, a corporate responsibility disruptor conceived in response to the disturbing reality that BIPOC leaders in the nonprofit sector continue to receive significantly less financial support than their white counterparts. With this initiative, we are building the first ever directory of BIPOC led nonprofits. The campaign calls on corporations who have pledged support for the Black Lives Matter movement in recent months, to let their actions speak “louder than words,” by investing in nonprofit leaders of color.

Social justice is in our DNA at The Wakeman Agency— in our hearts, minds, and souls. I imagine this is also true for you. I look forward to innovating, disrupting and co-creating the change that we all want to see. As you think about what’s next, feel free to contact me.

In solidarity,

Vanessa Wakeman