Insidedge and GolinHarris had the privilege of hosting two outstanding winter interns, Ray Bennett and Rachelle Crockett, as members of a larger class. I came to know them both personally as their life journeys intersected with ours. And I’m grateful and proud that I worked closely with two bright young professionals who will lead our profession into a new age.
Ray and I met during the Holiday Season of 2010 at a Young Professionals Network (YPN) event that we hosted for the Chicago PRSA. Soft-spoken, authentic and insightful, I liked Ray right off the bat. I became his mentor as he worked to complete his master’s degree in communications from Roosevelt University in Chicago. As we met each Thursday, I challenged him deeply with public relations theory and practice. He consumed a half-dozen books on my reading list, tracked blogs that I consider important for an emerging professional, and engaged me in dialogue on issues that challenge today’s practitioner. We had real conversations about work, life and questions that truly matter.
Rachelle was one of the dozens of graduates I meet every year for an informational interview – except that she was different from the others. A graduate of Columbia College, Chicago, she was respectful, courteous and curious about how to conduct her search for the right position; however, below the surface, it was clear to me that a fire burned deep inside, with great insights about work, culture and technology; and she had that emotional spark I want to see when you probe others about what moves them in life.
Frans Johannson is a noted author and speaker. His book, The Medici Effect, carries a powerful message about diversity and innovation. His premise is that “innovations occur when people see beyond their expertise and approach situations actively, with an eye toward putting available teams, resources and materials together in new combinations.” Young professionals like Ray and Rachelle are important to our journey to that place where diversity and innovation intersect.
A few years ago, Fred Cook and I added a new value to GolinHarris’ historic values: “Diversity broadens perspective.” I believe it and I practice it in my leadership of Diversity & Inclusion for the larger agency. We are stronger as a company, in our communities and our larger world, when diversity broadens our perspective.
Life is not always what you think it is. As someone who learned late in life about my own heritage as a Native American, I see beyond race, ethnicity, choices in lifestyle, age, disabling conditions and every possible definition that may fall under Diversity & Inclusion. When I met both Ray and Rachelle for the first time, I saw one thing – a promise for the future. Like others before them, they touched me deeply and will be a part of who I am as we transit the road ahead.
Ray and Rachelle – thank you for everything you contributed to our agencies!