BE Modern Man: Jaylen Christie
Community volunteer, public relations professional and marketing firm executive; 32; Director of Public Relations, Moxé
Growing up, my parents taught my sister and I the importance of volunteerism and service above self. To that end, I find joy in helping others. Toward the start of my career in public relations, I was blessed to be able to work for The Salvation Army, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the world. During the Christmas season of 2015, I was tasked with helping 4,000 underprivileged children in Orlando receive brand new clothing items and toys. With God’s help, I was able to leverage partnerships with the local media and develop a communications strategy to ensure that all 4,000 children receive gifts, and it worked. Every child received brand new items. Since then, I’ve been appointed to the Orlando Economic Partnership’s Young Professional Advisory’s Council to help strengthen the city’s regional assets and businesses; the Friends of the Library Board for the Orange County Public Library System where I’ve helped raise over $10,000 to help fund reading programs last year; and was recently invited to serve as moderator at a town hall in partnership with the NAACP regarding issues faced by African Americans in our local community. Currently, I am working to help set up mobile libraries in disadvantaged areas of the city for the homeless to be able to read books as they please.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?
My family continues to amaze me. My parents are now both in their 60s and are just as active as they were in their 30s. My father is an active entrepreneur and my mother is busy spearheading community-based initiatives. My sister is mentoring youth, continuing the family tradition of volunteerism and service. My cousin coaches young athletes. My aunts and uncles all have their own businesses, endeavors, and passion projects as well. I come from a family of hard workers and this is something that I am extremely proud of.
HOW HAVE YOU TURNED STRUGGLE INTO SUCCESS?
After graduating from the amazing Florida A&M University, I took a chance in moving to a new city without a job lined up and only $2,000 to my name. I was unemployed for a bit and had become a master chef with ramen noodles. With my bank account dwindling, I was blessed to land a job as a public relations practitioner at a small company. I didn’t have a PR background but was confident in my skillsets. That position led to a role as public relations coordinator at a homeless shelter, which led to a public relation manager position at an advertising firm, and then to my current position as director of public relations at Moxē, an integrated marketing agency where I serve as the PR lead on various agency clients and oversee all client PR strategies and tactics, in addition to working collaboratively with cross-functional groups across the agency. My success in the field of PR has earned me a spot as vice president of communication in the Orlando chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. God is good.
WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?
Oh, that’s easy — my father. He taught me the true value of hard work and determination. He also has an uncanny ability to never stress and hasn’t met a broken car or leaky faucet that he can’t repair, which, as far as I’m concerned, makes him just as much a superhero as Marvel’s Black Panther.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
Dare to dream, but please, also do — for dreamers are many, but doers are few.
HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?
Volunteerism and service lend themselves naturally to that. By serving as a volunteer with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, I’ve had the honor of leading several workshops with groups of young men who are just like me. It’s been a rewarding experience. Additionally, as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., one of our initiatives is Go to High School, Go to College, which concentrates on the importance of completing secondary and collegiate education as a road to advancement. Through the initiative, young men receive information and learn strategies that facilitate success.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?
With it being 2019, I feel like the definition of manhood has evolved from what it once was, which is fine. While definitions may perchance differ from person to person, my view on manhood is that it means leadership and being of service to the downtrodden — recognizing a need and then doing something about it. That’s what volunteerism and service are about.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?
As black men, we are the epitome of cool. Richard Roundtree in Shaft, Billy Dee Williams in Star Wars, Walter Emanuel Jones in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers — those were some of the brothers that I looked up to as a child. The characters they portrayed were smart, determined, capable, and cool. These are qualities that I see in brothers every day. That’s what I like most. I am very proud to be a black man.
BE Modern Man is an online and social media campaign designed to celebrate black men making valuable contributions in every profession, industry, community, and area of endeavor. Each year, we solicit nominations in order to select men of color for inclusion in the 100 Black Enterprise Modern Men of Distinction. Our goal is to recognize men who epitomize the BEMM credo “Extraordinary is our normal” in their day-to-day lives, presenting authentic examples of the typical black man rarely seen in mainstream media. The BE Modern Men of Distinction are celebrated annually at Black Men XCEL (www.blackenterprise.com/blackmenxcel/). Click this link to submit a nomination for BE Modern Man: https://www.blackenterprise.com/nominate/. Follow BE Modern Man on Twitter: @bemodernman and Instagram: @be_modernman.