In a surprise announcement, the chief executive of ESSENCE has announced that she will be stepping down from her post at the end of the month.
What We Know:
- Michelle Ebanks had served in a top leadership role with the iconic media outlet and brand marketed to Black women since the early 2000s before the announcement was made Monday.
- Ebanks announced her resignation will be effective March 31. Following her departure, Ebanks plans to pursue other opportunities outside of the brand, as well as join the board of Essence Ventures, the parent company of ESSENCE.
- As a member of the board, Ebanks will advise on strategic partnerships and new growth opportunities. This will include the development of a diversity and inclusion capability that supports the advancement of people of color in the workplace.
“The brand has been reestablished as 100% Black-owned and is well-positioned for continued success through what is a remarkable time of transformation and reinvention.”
- “I will always be grateful for the opportunity, but most importantly for the impact that ESSENCE continues to have on tens of millions of Black women globally. Since I began, my priority has been to position ESSENCE for its next phase, and we’ve done that,” Ebanks said in a statement.
- Ebanks has served as CEO of ESSENCE since 2001. Under her leadership, the ESSENCE Festival of Culture, more properly known as Essence Fest grew to become the world’s largest cultural, music, entertainment, and empowerment experience. It has produced more than $4 billion in economic impact.
- Essence Fest 2020 is set to be headlined by Janet Jackson and Bruno Mars, operating under the theme “Own Our Power”.
- In the interim, Richelieu Dennis, founder & chairman of Essence Ventures, will assume the responsibilities of having direct oversight of the company. “There aren’t enough words to express the gratitude recognition, and admiration that we have for everything Michelle has brought to ESSENCE over nearly 20 years – her vision, her leadership, her advocacy, and her determination,” Dennis said.
2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Black-woman centered brand. Dennis will continue his search for a successor with Ebanks assisting in the transition and search process.