In Appreciation of My Team

Left to right: Donna, Toni, Cynthia

When I first envisioned the formation of my company more than 25 years ago, I imagined a small operation consisting of me and an assistant. But once I focused full time on the company in 2002, our business grew so rapidly, even during the recession of 2009-10, that I had to expand my staff to provide service to our growing roster of clients.

Recently, my team and I participated in Harlem Week. They decided that this was a great opportunity to debut our new logo, and they surprised me with T-shirts. Despite all of our years of work together and the successful campaigns we have marshalled, it wasn’t until I put on the T-shirt that I really felt as if I had built the company I had dreamed of creating—a dedicated group of professionals committed to expanding access to the arts, and supporting cultural, arts and entertainment events through audience development, promotion and ticket sales.

I have tremendous respect and appreciation for my team. In my blog this week, I want you to know more about the staff—the people who helped make my vision a reality—and expertise we offer at Walker International Communications Group, Inc.

Toni R. Isreal is the Managing Director at WICG. We first met more than seven years ago. She came up to me after I spoke at a conference and asked if she could intern with me. After one month of working as an intern, I recognized Toni’s passion and amazing talents. Today, she is responsible for our day-to-day business operations, as well as client relations and building campaigns. Toni loves coordinating church visits and group sales. Toni’s strong accounting background also assures that we have no surprises with campaign budgets.

Cherine Anderson consults as a Marketing Executive for WICG. We met while she was working at an ad agency. Cherine went on to provide marketing services for Color Purple Broadway. We have continued to work on numerous projects since that time. Cherine’s passion is building creative advertising campaigns and promotions that provide our clients with visibility in the communities we are targeting on their behalf.

Cynthia Tate is our Project Manager. I first met her when she was a Public Relations Associate at The Apollo Theater. When I learned Cynthia was no longer working there I inquired about her working with me at WICG. Thankfully, she said yes! Cynthia makes sure all of our reports, charts and documents are prepared and presented with élan. She also is a great publicist.

Richard E. Pelzer II is a man about town and consults as our Associate Director of Public and Community Relations. Richard and I met years ago through a mutual friend and he has been a real asset to the company. Although Richard usually is juggling numerous projects, he still makes time to join forces with WICG. By just reading a script, Richard can envision how to connect a show with the hearts and minds of an audience. He also likes to create theme nights for the shows we’re supporting, connecting audience turnout to a particular theme or cause.

Minkie English is our Group Sales Manager, and she wears that coat nicely. Many of our clients see group sales as the best way to build an audience and achieve their fiscal goals. With Minkie’s consistent and tenacious drive, groups receive the care and support needed to finalize the purchase of their tickets, and she helps ensure that they have a great experience.

Part of my personal mission is to mentor future generations of audience development experts, and I’m so happy to have Lauren Sullivan on our team! Lauren came to us via Brooklyn College as an intern. She immediately demonstrated her skill at research and developing partnerships and now works as a Marketing Assistant. Lauren also is often the first to arrive at work and the last to leave. She makes sure everything is buttoned up and on schedule.

Last month, I added two new members to the team:

Amanda Rodriguez and I met through a mutual colleague. She volunteered to work with me on a project building partners, in order to expand her portfolio. However, based on the quality of her work, I asked Amanda to spend time with WICG to better understand the dynamics of partnerships and how we create access to the arts. She has proven herself to be more than capable of handling the job of Marketing Assistant.

 Melissa Skinner is another great asset. She consults as a Senior Marketing Director, bringing to WICG the strong marketing skills, strategic insights and the ability to focus on deliverables that she cultivated while working at The Apollo. Melissa is already making her mark on several of our key projects.

In addition to technical skills, the work of community engagement and creating access to the arts requires passion, ingenuity, nimbleness and a genuine love of the arts. I am proud to say the WICG team has all of that and more. Thank you, team, for your dedication, commitment and pioneering efforts! I’m looking forward to continuing our work together to create more history and further build a legacy of engaging communities of color for arts experiences