*Award-winning journalist, editor and author Vanessa K. Bush was named editor-in-chief of Essence magazine on July 31, 2013 after having served as acting editor-in-chief since February 2013. On Monday, September 30, 2013, Martha Nelson, editor-in-chief, Time Inc., and Lisa Garcia Quiroz, chief diversity.
The favorability vibe in the room was contagious as Bush had assumed this coveted position with overwhelming approval from everyone upfront and behind the scenes at the Black women’s lifestyle bible who rooted for her ascension of leadership.y officer and senior vice president, corporate responsibility, Time Warner, hosted an intimate reception for Bush at the beauteous Park Café with its breathtaking views of Central Park through a sea of windows.
The exclusive event was attended by the crème de la crème of fashionistas, trendsetters and media mavens as well as a host of top shelf executives at Essence. Bush greeted each guest as they entered the venue to pay homage to her with charm and grace. One of her biggest fans then and now is Essence Communications, Inc. President Michelle Ebanks who was bursting with pride and exuberance in her remarks about Bush sharing with guests how the new editor-in-chief had already made a difference in the magazine.
“Vanessa’s wealth of knowledge about the Essence brand and connection to our community of nearly 10 million readers has deepened reader engagement,” stated Ebanks. “Vanessa is poised to deliver on our mission to help African-American women move their lives forward – not only through the magazine, but by meeting their needs across all of our branded platforms.”
More accolades came from Quiroz via a taped video as she was unable to attend, and Nelson who was present. “Vanessa’s more than 10 years of experience as an editorial leader at Essence will ensure continued success for the preeminent African-American women’s media brand,” offered Nelson. “She has the full support of Time Inc. to execute on her vision to honor this loyal and cherished audience.”
Bush was visibly touched by all of these kind remarks. “I am humbled and gratified to lead the world’s largest brand for Black women,” effused Bush. “I’ve been a part of the Essence family for a long time now. Besides my own family and cherished friends – Essence has been a central part of my working life for 10 years, and has been a part of my evolution as a Black woman, mother, daughter, friend, and advocate – helping me in finding my voice and finding my way in the world.”
Bush also acknowledged and thanked the trifecta of powerful women at Essence, namely, Nelson, Quiroz and Eubanks, for their seal of approval, as well as the former celebrated Essence editor Susan L. Taylor, and Essence visionary and founder Ed Lewis, who was also in attendance.
In grand style and eloquence, the new leader of Essence outlined the commitment of the magazine’s entire staff to serving their nearly 10 million readers with the best and most inspiring information geared towards Black women’s needs and perspectives. Bush stressed that her main function will be to serve the Essence reader. “This is an extraordinary time for all women — and especially for Black women. I ask that in this digital/social world where accuracy and accountability in storytelling are more important than ever, that you will join us in telling the true story of Black women’s lives in all our expanding platforms.”
*Once again two magical forces came together and pulled off a storybook evening filled with enchantment and nobility. On Friday, September 20, 2013, Essence magazine and Southern Company, in partnership with Perennial Strategy Group and Google, hosted their 5th annual Evening of Excellence during the 2013 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s (CBCF) 43rd Annual Legislative Conference themed “It Starts With You” and held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.
“Each year, Essence has the wonderful opportunity of partnering with the Southern Company and Perennial Strategy Group to present our annual Evening of Excellence to showcase the nation’s leading African-American influencers,” said Michelle Ebanks, president, Essence Communications, Inc. “We are thankful that they continue to see why it is so important to be able to give honor where honor is due and to pay tribute to these exceptional men and women whose amazing work serves as an inspiration to all of us.”
The Evening of Excellence honored “today’s most influential advocates and architects of change.” The awards program featured presentations to some of today’s most influential advocates of change and trailblazers, with a focus on Armed Services and entrepreneurship.
“Essence is proud to recognize this year’s honorees who are doing stellar work and making a huge impact both within their hometowns and the African-American community-at-large,” said Vanessa K. Bush, editor-in-chief, Essence. “Their incredible stories are aligned with what we highlight in the magazine each month — individuals who are selfless and totally committed to making a difference wherever they are.”
The evening, hosted by WUSA9 Evening News anchor Lesli Foster, honored Sophia Marnell, owner and president of Alexton Incorporated (technology innovation award); Sherri Shepherd, Emmy Award-winning co-host of ABC’s The View, actress and New York Times best-selling author (civil advocate award); Dr. Jesse Lewis, Sr., founder of the Birmingham Times Newspaper (lifetime achievement award); and Major General Nadja West, a two-star general in the US Army (Armed Forces medical advocate award).
The acceptance vocalizations were remarkable with Major West’s words lingering long after she left the stage. During her eloquent remarks Major West explained how she created her own sense of family once adopted by her parents, who have already passed away. She also described how she rose through the ranks, creating her own sense of family again through the Army.
“It’s an honor to salute those who take action and constantly seek ways to influence positive changes within their communities through their noble work — especially in the areas of entrepreneurship and the armed forces,” said Christopher C. Womack, executive vice president and president, external affairs, Southern Company. “Bringing change where change is needed is never easy, so paying tribute to those who have made that contribution is a privilege for our company, which itself has a long history of community involvement and of being a citizen in the truest sense. We thank them for all they do.”
“Perennial is pleased to partner with Essence, Southern Company, and Google to present the fifth annual Evening of Excellence event. This event has quickly become one of the most popular events in a week of exciting activities held in connection with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference,” said Lamell McMorris, founder and chief executive officer of Perennial Strategy Group. “This year, I’m delighted that we are able to honor some amazing individuals who have helped to bring about social change and innovation and who have helped to defend our civil rights over the years. I look forward to celebrating their accomplishments this evening.”
Entertainment was provided by Avery*Sunshine and consummate performing trio Bell Biv DeVoe who had everyone on their feet dancing to their hits “Poison” and “BBD.” They also performed perennial favorites from their New Edition repertoire – “Cool It Now,” “Can You Stand the Rain” and “Candy Girl.” As the evening came to a close, guests attended an exclusive after party sponsored by Google at the Google Lounge that was energized by the sounds of Ryan Cameron and DJ Baby Yu.
The annual Evening of Excellence has become one of the highlights held during CBCF weekend. Previous honorees include: actress and education advocate Alfre Woodard; Xavier University President Dr. Norman C. Francis; Alabama A & M University President Dr. Andrew Hugine, Jr.; The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl writer and creator Issa Rae; U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee; musician & activist Dr. Henry Panion, III; Morehouse College President Robert M. Franklin, Jr.; CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux; NFL star Warrick Dunn; TV personality and author Judge Glenda Hatchett; philanthropist, entrepreneur and filmmaker Sheila C. Johnson; The HollyRod Foundation founders Rodney Peete & Holly Robinson Peete; radio host Tom Joyner; fitness guru Donna Richardson-Joyner; and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin.
About Essence Communications Inc.
Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media company dedicated to African-American women, with a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online. The company’s flagship publication, Essence magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; generating brand extensions such as the Essence Festival, Essence Black Women in Hollywood and Black Women in Music, Window on Our Women and Smart Beauty consumer insights series, the Essence Book Club, Essence.com, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For 43 years, Essence, which has a brand reach of over 9.7 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information and specific solutions relating to every area of African-American women’s lives. Additional information about ECI and Essence is available at www.essence.com.
About Southern Company
With 4.4 million customers and nearly 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast through its subsidiaries. A leading U.S. producer of clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and a growing competitive generation company, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for energy innovation, excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are below the national average. Southern Company and its subsidiaries are leading the nation’s nuclear renaissance through the construction of the first new nuclear units to be built in a generation of Americans and are demonstrating their commitment to energy innovation through the development of a state-of-the-art coal gasification plant. Southern Company has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense and G.I. Jobs magazine as a top military employer and listed by Diversity Inc. as a top company for Blacks. The company received the 2012 Edison Award from the Edison Electric Institute for its leadership in new nuclear development, was named Electric Light & Power magazine’s Utility of the Year for 2012 and is continually ranked among the top utilities in Fortune’s annual World’s Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings. Visit our website at www.southerncompany.com.
About Perennial Family of Business
Perennial Strategy Group (www.perennialsg.com) is a strategic advisory firm that provides government, public, and community affairs consulting services to Fortune 500 companies, national nonprofits, trade associations, and public-sector clients on a wide range of public policy issues. The firm specializes in the areas of corporate-government collaboration, banking and financial services, education, technology and communication, community and economic development, grassroots advocacy, and corporate social responsibility and global diversity. Its sister company, Perennial Sports and Entertainment (www.perennialse.com) is a premier, full-service sports agency that represents NFL, NBA, and MLB players and personalities. Collectively, its agents have signed multiple 1st round picks and negotiated several multi-million dollar contracts. Its team brings to the table a wealth of knowledge of the sports and entertainment industries and decades of experience working with athletes, entertainers, musicians, media personalities, and nonprofits.
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area. Contact her via: [email protected]