ESSENCE has announced that Michelle Ebanks, chief executive officer of Essence Communications Inc., will be stepping down from her current role as of March 31, 2020. Ebanks will join the board of Essence Ventures, which is the parent company of ESSENCE, as well as pursue other opportunities. In this new capacity, Ebanks will advise on strategic partnerships and new growth opportunities.
“When I joined ESSENCE, I could not have imagined this extraordinary journey and how it would transform me as a person and as a leader,” said Ebanks in a written statement. “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. 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.”
As ESSENCE starts the search for her successor, Ebanks will assist with the transition and search process. Richelieu Dennis, founder & chairman of Essence Ventures, will oversee the company while working closely with its senior leadership team on continuous transformation and strategy execution.
Ebanks also said, “Richelieu is strongly committed to ESSENCE’s mission of serving black women deeply—as well as empowering equality, investing in community, and expanding ESSENCE into the global media, technology and commerce business that it has always had the potential to be. Over the past couple of years, I’ve often called ESSENCE a 50-year-old startup, with a richness of legacy and poised to leverage new and unlimited opportunity in ways never done before. As the brand celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, I am as excited to see what the future holds for the next 50 years.”
“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,” said Dennis. “We value her commitment to uplifting and empowering our community, as well as to building a successful business with an unmatched team of women executives who are leading the way. We are excited to continue to work alongside her on the board of Essence Ventures as we open new opportunities, access, expertise and possibilities for black women and people of color in the most engaging, authentic and innovative ways possible. This is only the beginning.”
The search for a new leader is underway.