By Sherri Killam-Williams
Being part of an evolving trade organization isn’t daunting to Kathy Johnson, executive VP of the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications.
By the end of 2004 the organization will move its offices to New York from Costa Mesa, Calif., to be closer to many of its sponsors and the majority of its members who live east of the Mississippi River.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for Ms. Johnson, a Des Moines, Iowa, native, who worked in New York for Bloomingdale’s department store after receiving her Master of business administration in marketing from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Ms. Johnson’s tenure with NAMIC stretches back to 1987, when she joined the cable industry as a Walter Kaitz Fellow working with Times Mirror Cable Television (now Cox Communications). She held a variety of jobs in the industry, including five years as a senior affiliate marketing representative for the Disney Channel and three years as director of marketing for BET Action Pay-Per-View.
She was named executive VP of NAMIC in January 2003 and became its first full-time executive director after having served on the NAMIC national board as secretary for three years and as president and secretary of the organization’s Southern California chapter.
Ms. Johnson said she enjoys her work with NAMIC for a number of reasons. “The work that we do impacts the lives of our members. They receive the benefit of leadership development via their volunteerism for the organization or our formal educational programs. The visibility and skill sets that they acquire through NAMIC help them to advance in their careers and ultimately result in greater economic empowerment,” she said.
Ms. Johnson works closely with the NAMIC executive committee and board of directors to determine the organization’s strategy and to implement NAMIC initiatives such as the annual awards breakfast.
One of her most memorable moments with NAMIC was when she spent time with singer Harry Belafonte before he spoke at a NAMIC awards breakfast in New Orleans.
“I spent four hours with him at lunch the day before the breakfast. It was the most intimate setting I’ve been in with a famous person. He was asked to speak for 20 minutes at the breakfast, and he got up and said he was going to speak for an hour,” she said. “The people were riveted by what he had to say.”
Ms. Johnson received academic fellowships from both Boston University, where she took an undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
In her spare time, Ms. Johnson said, she “loves to read.”