Unable to find a job after graduating from Spelman College was discouraging for Danielle P. Jeter, especially because she had done everything right. Not only was she accepted into the prestigious HBCU, but she also became a standout student and excelled during her academic career. “I had a whole résumé of experience. I studied abroad. I interned every summer. I got jobs. I worked while I was in college. I was a student leader. I was on the dance team,” Jeter, 29, told BLACK ENTERPRISE, adding that she often traveled off campus to network with working professionals. And, on top of that, the double major launched her own events planning business during her senior year. “So for me, I was like, ‘why can’t I get a job?’ I prepared. I did what was told of me to do,” she said.
Change of Plans
The reality of being jobless when she graduated from the Atlanta-based institution in Spring 2010 forced her to recalculate her post-college plans. “My vision for my life was to go from Atlanta to Los Angeles.” When that didn’t happen, she reluctantly returned to her hometown of Philadelphia and focused on growing her own business. “I always had a vision of being an entrepreneur. I knew that I was going to be a business owner, [but] I didn’t know I was going to do it so young.”
Jeter worked to expand her company, AOI Events & PR, into a full-service communications firm that executes creative marketing campaigns for clients. “When I came back home to Philly, I added on different services, including public relations, community relations, digital marketing, and strategic development.” Under AOI, she also started an internship and mentoring program called Pipeline that has helped dozens of high school students gain hands-on experience in the media field.
Jeter’s career trajectory, however, took another change of course in 2013 when she attended a documentary film screening about Philadelphia’s local art scene. The lack of representation in the film was so glaring that it compelled her to take action to better represent women creatives in her community. “There was only one woman represented in the film,” which profiled Philadelphia-based artists, she told BE. “I, personally, was offended by that because I’m an artist and I know plenty of artists in the city. Philadelphia [has a] large art and culture scene.” The disappointing film motivated her to create an event to showcase the work of female artists and professionals in media and entertainment. “That sparked something in me to go ahead and create something to remind women to own their voices.”
She reached out to other women working in media within her network, student organizations, and local media outlets and organized a workshop at Temple University within 60 days. Although small, the women’s empowerment event made a great impact on its attendees and inspired her to expand the half-day workshop into an annual conference for women working in media, entertainment, and the arts. “That was so powerful. People really loved their experiences and they started to ask me ‘what’s next?’”
Women In Media
Jeter also launched Women in Media Global Network (WIM Global), an organization that serves to empower and equip women who work or aspire to work in the media industry through year-round meetups and networking events. Today, the organization operates chapters in Philadelphia and Atlanta.
Last month, the org held its sixth annual Women in Media conference at the International House in Philadelphia, which was centered on the theme, “limitless: beyond the glass ceiling.” It was co-emceed by diversity and inclusion expert Kimberly S. Reed and included a diverse mix of women making waves in the industry such as radio personality Roxy Romeo. Jeter says her favorite highlight was her fireside chat with The Breakfast Club co-host Angela Yee. “Angela Yee telling her story reminded me that there are no overnight success stories and you have to consistently work extremely hard to be great,” she said.
Day one of the conference ended with a “Women In Sports VIP Dinner” and panel held at the Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, and featured female executives who work for the MLB team. That inspiration seemed to seep onto the field as the Phillies beat the Miami Marlins in an exciting home game later that night.
Day two of the conferenced featured a panel session, sponsored by BLACK ENTERPRISE, of millennial women working in corporate media outlets like BET Networks and ABC’s local news affiliate. That was followed by breakout sessions. The day ended with a reception and informal session featuring male media professionals who support women in media.
Jeter thanked members of WIM for the success of the two-day summit, noting that it’s a testament of how well women can work together. “Working behind the scenes with the Women In Media Leadership Council Team Members [kept] me inspired and motivated especially during times of difficulty. To see a dedicated team of 15 women selflessly give of their time, treasure, talents, and resources to invest in other women proved many negative stereotypes of women in general wrong.”
Another rewarding moment from the event was seeing how it encouraged and impacted others. “To learn that attendees walked away with valuable jewels, tangible resources, new relationships, education, and inspiration made all of our hard work over the last year worth it,” said Jeter. “It also proved that our WIM Global platform is needed.”