Fern E. Gillespie is a communications executive, whose expertise in public relations, marketing, advertising, special events, multicultural/diversity, journalism, youth issues, and radio programs spans over 25 years.
Ms. Gillespie specializes in corporate, community, cultural and celebrity communications. Since1994, she has worked with acclaimed multicultural ad agency UniWorld Group (WPP) as interim director of public relations, PR account director, account supervisor and consultant on national multicultural/general market campaigns for Con Edison (corporate/supplier diversity), Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (National Parks Service and GSA on African Burial Ground), United Negro College Fund (An Evening of Stars), Home Depot (Real Men Cook), US Marine Corps (60th Anniversary of African Americans in the Marine Corps), Mead Johnson (Nutrament's Double Dutch at the Apollo), Kraft Foods (corporate/supplier diversity), TLC Beatrice International (Reginald Lewis' autobiography Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?), Ford Motor Company (Economic Empowerment Entrepreneurship Scholarship), Scholastic (Virginia Hamilton's Her Stories), Disney (movie Dead Presidents), GlaxoSmithKline (Avandia), UniverSoul Circus (national tour/HBO Special),Colgate-Palmolive(Bright Smiles, Bright Futures), Microsoft (community affairs) and Burger King (Salute to HBCU Scholar-Athletes).
Ms. Gillespie's PR career has spanned key corporate, non-profit and agency positions. She's operated as assistant director of public relations for the NAACP under Benjamin Hooks (1985-1986); director of public relations/marketing for Huggy Bean, the award-winning Black character doll (1991-1994) and PR director/consultant for The Studio Museum in Harlem (1996-1998). As a consultant, she directed national PR for New York University's Institute of African American Affairs (conferences: Yari Yari:Black Women's Global Writers Conference and Slave Routes) and served as editor of the Jackie Robinson Foundation newsletter. From 1999-2006 she was PR rep/scriptwriter/associate producer for Johnson Publishing's EBONY Outstanding Women in Marketing & Communications Awards. She's directed national PR projects for legends James Brown, Michael Jackson, and Bill Gates. Currently, campaigns include business PR on the New York & New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council's work with multicultural businesses and Fortune 500 companies. She is also the PR/Community Affairs rep for Coalition of Theatres of Color, representing NYC's leading Black theatres for renowned chair Woodie King, Jr.
An award-winning journalist, Ms. Gillespie is the recipient of the top 1995 New York Association of Black Journalists Award for Arts & Entertainment Coverage in a Newspaper (New York City weekly The City Sun). She has written articles for Essence, Black Enterprise, Heart & Soul, Upscale, The Crisis, Howard University Magazine, New York Times Syndicate, New York Daily News, Asbury Park Press, and many others.
A specialist in youth issues, from 1987 to 1990 Ms. Gillespie served as executive director of the non-profit organization Children's Express of Newark, the New Jersey bureau for the Emmy and Peabody award-winning international youth news service by young people ages 8 to 18. Ms. Gillespie has been featured in major newspapers and on television programs discussing youth issues: New York Times, New York Daily News, Newark Star Ledger, Asbury Park Press, WPIX-TV, WNET-TV, WNYW-TV, and WNBC-TV.
In 1976, Ms. Gillespie began her career as radio producer and on-air host for Washington, DC's WHUR-FM when she was hired by Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One and TV One. At New York's WMCA-AM, she produced top talk personalities Barry Farber, Bruce Williams, and Barry Gray. She also produced New York's early Black-oriented talk shows at WWRL and WLIB hosted by Vy Higginsen, Gary Byrd, Judy Simmons, and Pablo Guzman. In 1981, she co-developed and produced National Black Network's "Night Talk with Bob Law," the first nationally syndicated African American radio talk show. She was a radio producer for "Imhotep Gary Byrd at the Apollo Theater;" The United Negro College Fund's 1986 and 1987 Lou Rawls' Parade of Stars celebrity PSAs (CEBA winner); and General Motors' 1993 national radio profile series Roads to Success.
Ms. Gillespie is a former board member of Cave Canem, the voice for Black poetry. She is also a craft artist, whose artwork has been featured in Essence, Black Elegance, Essence By Mail and The Studio Museum in Harlem Store. She is listed in Who's Who of Executive Women and holds a BA in Print and Broadcast Journalism from Howard University.
Eric Easter is the founding partner of Rock the Content, LLC, a producer of multi-platform digital content and developer of vertical sites and mobile applications targeted to specialized audiences. The company's first vertical – Everyday Family (theeverydayfamily.com), a site focused on travel and discovery for families - launched in December of 2010, and a soon to launch platform for global ideas and perspective - thebigideas.tv.
Formerly the Vice President of Digital & Entertainment for Johnson Publishing, Easter led the strategic, sales, business development and content direction of EbonyJet.com and the planning and development of new digital initiatives and revenue opportunities across multiple platforms including the web, mobile, VOD, devices and other technologies. As head of its entertainment unit he spearheaded the company's entry into social media, and development of franchise properties focusing on travel, culture and branded entertainment products and partnerships.
Easter initiated and executed a landmark partnership with Google to digitize the company's vast archival assets and launched popular extension such as EbonyJet Radio and the Ebony You Tube Channel, and branded partnerships with TV One, the Gospel Music Channel and BET. At EbonyJet.com, he led the team to four-digit revenue and traffic increases. Prior to joining JPC, he directed communications and social outreach strategy at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, publisher of award winning sites washingtonpost.com, Slate, Newsweek.com and budgettravelonline.
As the founder and creative officer of One Media Inc, he published ONE magazine and the scholarly quarterly Black Film Review and provided strategic new media direction for numerous companies including Sara Lee, Coca Cola and media industry organizations and served as a senior media outreach advisor to the presidential campaigns of Howard Dean, L. Douglas Wilder, Jesse Jackson and the successful gubernatorial campaign of Mark Warner for governor of Virginia. He also served as press secretary to the Rev. Jesse Jackson for the National Rainbow Coalition.
Easter is the creator and co-author of the best-selling Songs of My People (Little Brown 1992) a historic book and international photo exhibition on the lives of African Americans, and in collaboration with actor Edward James Olmos, he launched AMERICANOS (Little Brown, 1990), a book, exhibition and award winning HBO documentary on the diversity of Latino life and culture.
He serves on the boards of the National Black Programming Consortium, (which acquires and funds digital and film-based programming for PBS) and WHUT-TV, a Washington DC PBS affiliate.
Lamell McMorris is the founder and CEO of the Washington, DC-based group of companies bearing the Perennial name: Perennial Strategy Group, Perennial Sports and Entertainment, and Perennial Law Group. In his work, McMorris offers strategic insight and external affairs services to some of the nation’s leading decision-makers in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. McMorris’ unparalleled expertise in government and community affairs, strategic consulting, political campaigns, policy-making, grassroots advocacy, and broad-based coalition building has earned the Perennial companies acclaim around the nation.
Perennial Sports and Entertainment (PSE) is a full service agency that employs an innovative team of attorneys, former professional athletes, and marketing and public relations professionals. PSE effectively represents numerous artists, entertainers, media personalities, and professional athletes, including the NFL’s #1 Draft Pick in 2011 – Cam Newton.
Perennial Law Group (PLG) is a law practice offering advice and counsel to various parties involved in the entertainment, media, and sports industries. In recent years, McMorris served as the lead negotiator for the Major League Baseball Umpires Union and the National Basketball Association's Referees Union, where he played a key role in shaping collective bargaining agreements between the officials and their respective leagues.
McMorris is an active and effective fundraiser, and, drawing on his wide network of prominent athletes, entertainers, and activists, has driven Perennial to raise significant financial contributions for charitable causes across the nation. Feature pieces about McMorris and Perennial have appeared in The New York Times, on ESPN, and in Referee: The Magazine for Sports Officials.
McMorris is a lifelong advocate for those less fortunate than himself and is constantly looking to help improve the condition of our nation’s most disadvantaged communities. He serves on the boards of numerous civil rights organizations and volunteers his time with several youth service and mentoring organizations. McMorris’ philanthropy and advocacy include: NAACP National Board of Directors; NAACP Special Contribution Fund Board; Elmhurst College, Board of Trustees; National Action Network, Board of Directors; Rainbow PUSH, Board of Directors.
McMorris’ education includes Morehouse College, B.A., Religion and Society and Princeton Theological Seminary, M. Div., Social Ethics and Public Policy Concentration.
Before founding Perennial, he served as Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Youth Development Initiative Director for the Chicago Urban League
Honors and awards have included the National Action Network, Keepers of the Dream Entrepreneurial Award and Ebony Magazine’s, “30 Leaders of the Future, 30 and Under.”
McMorris’ business and civic associations include: Regions Financial Corporation, Diversity Advisory Council Member; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.; Morehouse College National Alumni Association; Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid Committee; U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Washington Government Relations Group; and, Washington Board of Trade.
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