Power PR: Black public relations professionals to know in Charlotte


Charlotte is home to a multitude of PR professionals dedicated to helping individuals and local businesses tell better stories, gain recognition and protect their brands.

Today, we spotlight 19 of those proctitioners.

They are by no means Charlotte’s only Black P.R. professionals, but in an industry that still struggles with diversity, this list aims to feature some who are thriving and making a difference in the region.  

This list is powered by:

University City Partners envisions and implements strategies and actions to drive University City’s long-term economic vitality as a center for employment, living, education, commerce, and entertainment. Our vision is for Charlotte’s University City to be a vibrant place that is urban in scale and design.

Since 1996, Atlantic Bay has been serving its communities with great loan products, customer service, and expertise. They’re a trusted lender and have stayed true to their core values throughout our more than 25 years.

INLIVIAN creates innovative housing solutions in desirable communities for residents of diverse incomes and facilitates access to services to help them succeed.

The Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists is an affiliate chapter of the NABJ, a nonprofit organization focused on establishing strong ties among African-Americans working in the media and expanding and balancing the media’s coverage of the African-American community and experience.  


Nepherterra Best

Vice President, Integrated Communications, CMRignite

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

My biggest accomplishment thus far in my career has been working on a campaign to raise awareness about the late ophthalmologist Dr. Patricia Bath, who is credited as being the first Black female physician to receive a medical patent. In addition, she also invented the laser phaco, a device to remove cataracts. 

Although she passed in 2019, I had the honor of working with her daughter, family and supporters on a strategic communications campaign that helped ensure she was one of the first Black female inventors inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2021.

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

I was always a very social kid who talked too much. As you can imagine, that caused problems for me in school. In elementary school, my teachers would put my desk in the corner, away from the class, and even in high school, I’d get kicked out of the library for talking too much or too loud. The advice I would’ve given the younger me is: Your ability to communicate and connect with others is a gift from God. Don’t worry; it’ll come in handy later.

Brittney Bogues, MA

Owner, Bogues Group

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

My biggest accomplishment thus far in my career is our firm winning a national award voted and awarded by journalists, the Bulldog PR Award, along with landing two different year-long, multi-figure branding deals with global corporations for a client. 

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

Remain teachable, always do your best, mind your priorities and remember that work does not define who you are.

Veronica Clemons

Senior Lead Communications Consultant, Wells Fargo

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

I’ve had so many rewarding experiences in my career, but one, in particular, is being the PR lead for the launch of Walt Disney World’s Mission Space. One of the most exciting pieces of that campaign was working with astronauts in the area, who agreed to experience the attraction pre-opening with local third graders. 

We got a thumbs up for fun from the kids and a thumbs up from the astronauts on how real the ride felt compared to their actual experiences traveling in space. Another great part of that campaign was that, during our PR event for the official launch, the media and guests witnessed an official countdown from astronauts from the space shuttle they were traveling in at the time. 

Disney is the place of blue-sky thinking, and we believe any innovative idea could be accomplished. The media coverage of the campaign was fantastic — all positive, and Misson Space was one of our most popular attractions.

What’s some advice you would’ve given your younger self before starting this career?

Don’t be afraid to speak up and bring your authentic self to work. When I was younger, I had ideas to share or opinions but was afraid to speak up because I might have been the most junior or even the only ethnically diverse person in the room. 

Remember, your voice and ideas are just as valuable as anyone else. Let people see you and hear you. Also, Get mentors in and outside of PR. Various mentors bring different guidance to the table. Don’t only think about people for their communications experience, but also consider seeking mentors who are great business leaders who have navigated career success by doing diverse jobs, etc. 

Lawrence Corley III

Media Relations Manager, City of Charlotte

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

My biggest career accomplishment has been obtaining my current role as media relations manager with the city of Charlotte. As I reflect on my time as an intern with the city of Columbia in 2004, I never imagined that I would one day be in a position like this in one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities.

 Over the years, my experiences in local government have been precious in evolving me and bringing me to this chapter in my career. This has been an incredible journey. I’m excited to see what the future holds and how I can continue maximizing opportunities to connect people to the information they need.

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

I would tell my younger self to dream big and not be limited by thoughts of self-doubt or insecurities that can hinder you from pursuing opportunities. Have the confidence to see your value regardless of what you may lack or think you lack. Have the courage to explore your capabilities to reach your full potential.

Jayla Gittens

Communications Specialist, Honeywell

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

My biggest accomplishment is leveraging my experience to gain a new role at a Fortune 500 company.

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You gain the most knowledge when you work outside of your comfort zone.

Azania Herron

Principal & Senior Public Relations Strategist, Zaja PR

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

Building and launching Zaja PR is hands down my biggest professional accomplishment. I initially thought about the greatest outcomes I’ve achieved for an employer or client. Still, the truth is that I am most proud of creating a business that is fully aligned with my personal values and professional mission. 

I’ve navigated many waters in my career where I desired to do something more or felt restricted to have the work-life balance I knew was possible. I’ve also experienced times when my skills were questioned. 

I’ve overcome all that discomfort by creating a business that reflects me — the person and the professional — while making an even greater impact through my work. Business ownership has been the sweetest achievement.

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

I would tell my younger self that everything is for a reason, even when you’d like to fast forward. I would also tell my younger self to raise the volume of your voice, particularly in rooms with people who might feel intimidating. 

Lastly, I would tell my younger self never to compare but to be inspired as you learn from others around you. Oh! I would also say, “Girl, do you know how beautiful the future looks for you?! Keep dreaming and doing.”

J. Hill

Principal, The Branduscript Agency

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

My biggest accomplishment has been earning media coverage for individuals, nonprofits and small businesses that people may not have heard about before. So many people do amazing things in CLT that may never get noticed. I take extreme pride in helping them tell their stories. 

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

I would advise my younger self to implement more systems to help run a creative agency more efficiently. I would also build a team and business credit earlier to position the agency for growth.

Loán Lake

Chief Strategist, Gobi Marketing Group LLC

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

I’ve had several, but the two most profound are working on Capitol Hill as press secretary for now-retired US Congresswoman Donna Christensen and co-creating two economic development summits for the US Virgin Islands diaspora in Washington, DC, and Atlanta, which brought together USVI government leaders with constituents on the US mainland. 

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

I would have advised myself to be confident in my ability and to trust that I have everything I need inside of me to succeed. Also, be bold, take risks and trust your intuition.

Gerard Littlejohn

Senior Director, Partnerships and Social Impact, GMR Marketing

Processed with Lensa with Magic Correction

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

I used to work in public relations for the Charlotte Hornets and set up a local and national media tour for then-coach Larry Brown. 

It was huge because I was only 22 and worked with the likes of ESPN, Associated Press and more. However, I’m most proud of shifting my PR consulting into a video production business, Creators Collab, which I run to this day. 

I can give opportunities and bring more Black creators to the table regarding brand campaigns and producing visual content. 

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

Be prepared for the rapidly changing ways that people consume media. From when I started until now, it’s completely night and day. With those changes, the way people communicate and share information has entirely shifted. 

Towanda Long, APR

Director of Marketing, Charlotte Pipe and Foundry

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

It’s hard to choose a thing. One thing I love about this career is the relationships I’ve made. I get to work on great projects with amazing people.

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

Stay open to all opportunities. There are a lot of paths that you don’t know exist.

Managing Director, The LEPR Agency

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

I’ve experienced many great moments in my PR career, so choosing the “biggest” accomplishment is tough. But, I love that throughout my 15-year career, I’ve helped strategically guide communications for brands ranging from nonprofits and sports to entrepreneurs and celebrities. 

Most recently, I’ve worked to help build national awareness for the first nonbinary actor to win a Tony Award and the only Black- and woman-owned contact lens manufacturer in the world. I’m a naturally curious storyteller, so creating compelling communications about the great things that clients are doing is what continues to keep me excited about my career.

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

Be open to possibilities. Your talent for writing and building relationships will lead to opportunities that push you out of your comfort zone. You’ll seek advice, but take on the challenges and continue working hard. 

That will play an essential role in people starting to speak your name in rooms and open doors that help shape the type of leader you will become. With that said, remember to set boundaries, even when you love what you do. As important as your work will be, spending time with the people and causes that mean a lot to you is just as important.

Candice Nicole

Founder & CEO, Candice Nicole Public Relations

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

I’ve experienced numerous defining moments in my career while collaborating with celebrities, prominent brands and major productions. 

Yet, my most significant achievement lies in my capacity (and also the agency’s capacity) to convey the narratives of the Black community.

 It’s genuinely an honor and privilege to shape and disseminate these stories that might otherwise remain untold and unheard, ensuring they reach a wider audience. 

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

As you embark on your journey in the dynamic world of PR, there are some valuable insights and considerations to remember. Your passion and curiosity will be your greatest assets. Always know it is OK to ask questions to gain more clarity. In addition, please embrace the idea of lifelong learning. The landscape constantly evolves in PR, with new technologies, platforms, and strategies emerging regularly. 

Stay hungry, dare I say even starving for knowledge, and be open to change. Just because you have learned something one way doesn’t mean you can’t adapt to a new way. Set clear goals specific to your PR career, and create a strategy that you would use for your clients for yourself. One of the best decisions you can make is to seek out mentors who have walked the path before you. 

Yes, it is great to create a community with your peers. However,  there is power in those currently in the place you want to be. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Remember that you have not because you have asked not. Adaptability is key in PR. You’ll face unexpected challenges and need to pivot your strategies. Again, there is power in training your mindset to think this way. Remember, failure is a stepping stone to success. Each setback will teach you valuable lessons. Effective time management will be king. 

Everyone will not like you, even though you have an open mind to connect with new people. Lastly, strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance. PR can be demanding, but your well-being is essential for sustained creativity and resilience. 

In summary, younger self, your PR career will be a thrilling ride. Embrace change, cultivate your skills, seek guidance, and uphold ethical standards. Your unique journey in PR will be shaped by your commitment to growth and your passion for shaping public perceptions.

Stacey McCray, APR

Vice President of Communications, Bojangles

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

Besides the opportunity to lead communications for a beloved brand like Bojangles, I’d say my biggest PR accomplishment has been winning major publicity that boosted awareness and sales for the companies and nonprofits I’ve had the privilege of serving over the past 20 years.

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

I’d tell her always to follow her gut intuition and be grateful for the good and bad things in her life because they all work together to make her a better and stronger person.

Tanya Mendis

Senior Director of Communications, Charlotte Regional Business Alliance

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

When I joined the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance in 2021, the organization was barely three years old, and we needed to get the word out to the broader community about our work and the impact we make to increase economic opportunity for all. 

I developed, led, and executed a record-setting communications strategy, resulting in a 235% increase in media coverage and unprecedented open rates of the organization’s e-newsletters.

That work has helped to increase our reputation and visibility and has given the community a deeper understanding of who we are.

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

I spent the better part of my career as a television journalist because of my passion for increasing representation in underrepresented communities, shedding light in the darkest corners, and telling stories that matter. That career was the realization of a childhood dream. But I’ve now learned there is just as much potential for community impact and storytelling in public relations. My advice to my younger self is to be open to possibilities, take big risks, and have a growth mindset. There is power in the pivot for those who have the courage to move.

Cheron Porter, MA, APR

Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications, INLIVIAN

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

Rebranding and renaming an 80-year-old institution has been my biggest accomplishment. I had done smaller rebranding campaigns, but this was a different level and was going to last for decades to come. It was also an amazing opportunity to have the full support of the agency to lead the endeavor. I knew that leading this campaign would force me to pull on every lesson that I had learned.

We went from being the Charlotte Housing Authority to INLIVIAN. The planning took about a year longer than expected. There were lots of stakeholders and as many opinions. Getting them all to go in the same direction was no easy task and tap danced on every fiber of being like Savion Glover. We did extensive research, which was great, and we wanted everyone to be a part of the process, and they were. We launched in Phase I in November of 2019. We were preparing for Phase II in March 2020, and then the world shut down and our messaging had to change.

Changing focus after years of planning and research while we were dealing with the greatest pandemic the world had faced decades was by far my greatest challenge and accomplishment.

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

I would say, “Sis, let me tell you, take it all in stride. There will be some tough days and battles that feel insurmountable, but remember, this too shall pass, so hold on tight!” I’ve faced trials where the days seemed endless, and the crises kept coming. When you serve as a spokesperson for an organization amid a crisis, emotions can run high, and headlines run wild. You will have some daggers thrown at you (metaphorically speaking, of course). Then, you will find that those who can make a difference may run for cover, and you may get called everything but a child of God. And despite every effort, everyone won’t understand, but that’s ok, because this too shall pass. Your skin will toughen, your vision will sharpen, your confidence will soar, and you’ll have a few more tools in the tool belt. Then you’ll be able to look them in the eye and say, ‘You gonna need something stronger to turn me around.’

Dana Sidberry

Founder and President, Motivation Marketing Firm

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

I always feel most accomplished when I have helped one of my clients achieve a long-term goal that they once felt was out of reach. It is the best feeling in the world! One of the biggest accomplishments of my PR career was reading the words I had written on behalf of a client being used in a Black History campaign and watching it grow legs, going viral, garnering multiple national placements online, on radio and television.

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

The advice I would give my younger self would be to take more risks! I am very proud of my career and personal and client’s accomplishments. Still, I am a very calculated risk taker, often resulting in me talking myself out of something because of the unknown. 

As a person who is paid to figure out ways around certain rules (a professional rule breaker), I rarely make the big jump too quickly.

Natasha Ashe-Suber

Vice President, Global Head of Marketing, Life & Health, SCOR

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

There are many proud moments and achievements. However, one career highlight includes leading a team that developed a series of marketing campaigns that addressed the importance of mental health and celebrated the resilience of people with disabilities. 

Our campaigns increased public awareness, supported the destigmatization of mental health treatment at a time when it was very unpopular — and highlighted the abilities and achievements of people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. 

Our peers from the Charlotte Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America recognized our efforts by presenting us with the Queen City PR (QCPR) Crown Award in 2018 and the QCPR Award of Excellence in 2019.

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

Remember to maintain your faith and values, seek mentors and allies who support your professional growth, build resilience, advocate for diversity and inclusion, support and create opportunities for others, and be kind. 

Your integrity, leadership, and authenticity will be respected and appreciated.

Krista Terrell, APR – Arts & Science Council

President, Arts & Science Council

Alvin C. Jacobs Jr @acjphoto © All Rights Reserved 2023 www.alvincjacobsjr.com

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

My biggest accomplishment in my PR career is leading a team in creating and publishing the Arts & Science Council’s (ASC) inaugural Cultural Equity report. The report to the community intended to apologize, acknowledge, and accept accountability for ASC’s role in creating and perpetuating systems and structures that have exacerbated inequities in our cultural society and beyond and publicly assess the steps taken since 2015 to dismantle inequitable systems and policies within ASC. 

The report aligns with the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Code of Ethics’ value of Honesty — adhering to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and communicating with the public.

Advocating for equity is deeply important to me, so utilizing my knowledge, skills and abilities as a PR practitioner for an initiative that advanced ASC’s equity work was incredibly meaningful.

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

You are enough.

Jameka Whitten

CEO and Principal Strategist, JSW Media Group

Alvin C. Jacobs Jr @acjphoto © All Rights Reserved 2021 www.alvincjacobsjr.com

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your PR career?

I’ve had the opportunity to work on phenomenal projects over the years. Still, my most significant accomplishment has been creating meaningful experiences for those on my team. I’ve had the absolute pleasure of mentoring a host of young PR, communications and event talent who have gone on to be super successful in their given industries. 

Knowing these intelligent and resourceful individuals started their professional careers at JSW Media Group is fulfilling. I could not ask for a bigger compliment; I have built a true work family. I love that my company has been an effective launchpad for so many. I’m blessed. 

What advice would you give your younger self before starting this career?

Relationship building is the cornerstone of all business, especially in public relations. I’d tell my younger self that “done” is better than “perfect” because perfect doesn’t exist. You can still be excellent without the stress of trying to be the pillar of perfection. You’ll make mistakes, but the lessons will be worth it.

 And lastly, adequate rest, relaxation and pleasure are priceless — go on that trip, flirt with the guy at the bar, dance like no one is watching, and sleep for more than four hours; the work will still be there in the morning. Your confidence will soar, and you’ll have a few more tools in the tool belt. Then you’ll be able to look them in the eye and say, ‘You gonna need something stronger to turn me around.’”



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