The Change Agencies Adds Six More Member Firms from Across the United States, Expanding for the Second Time in 2023; Fourteen Firms in Twelve Major Markets Are Now Members
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 21, 2023) – Today, six independently-owned and operated public relations firms operating in six markets nationwide have joined The Change Agencies, the national network of independently-owned multicultural and LGBTQ public relations and marketing firms that launched in June 2019. The six new member agencies join eight existing member agencies led by Managing Partners Ben Finzel of RENEWPR in Washington, D.C., LaTricia Woods of Mahogany Xan Communications in Phoenix, Ariz., and Tanya Churchmuch of MuchPR in New York, NY. The Change Agencies now comprises 14 agencies operating in 12 major markets across the United States. The new members joining today are:
- April Hale of A.Hale PR in Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Audrey Ponzio of APC Collective in Austin, Texas
- Mike Utaegbulam of Black Digital in Washington, D.C.
- Cindi Creager and Rainie Cole of Creager Cole Communications LLC in New York City, New York
- Dr. Sandra Wills Hannon of The Hannon Group in Washington, D.C.
- Zeke Stokes of ZS Strategies in Nashville, Tennessee
Of special note for this new group of The Change Agencies members:
- April Hale is Diné (Navajo) and is the first Indigenous public relations expert to join The Change Agencies. Hers is the second member firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Audrey Ponzio’s firm is the first new member firm in Austin, Texas
- Zeke Stokes’ firm is the first new member firm in Nashville, Tennessee
- Mike Utaegbulam and Sandra Wills Hannon’s firms are the second and third member firms from the Washington, D.C. market
- Cindi Creager and Rainie Cole’s firm is the second member firm from New York City
They now join the Managing Partners and the first five members that were announced in January 2023. Those members are:
- Kristelle Siarza of Siarza in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and San Diego, California
- John Avila of Avila Creative, in Chicago, Illinois
- Bernadette Davis of Bernadette Davis Communications in Plano, Texas, and Orlando, Florida
- Tammy Belton-Davis of Athena Communications in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Sonia Diaz of Zaid Communications in Miami, Florida
The Change Agencies is a national collective of PR firms offering inclusive communications advice, counsel, and outreach to effectively represent, engage and connect with African American, Asian American, Hispanic, and LGBTQ communities. Utilizing a collaborative working approach, The Change Agencies helps businesses and organizations communicate across cultures, ensuring that outreach and marketing to diverse communities are culturally appropriate, sensitive, and meaningful. Every agency owner is either Black, Asian-American, Hispanic, Indigenous, and/or LGBTQ, and 10 of the 14 member agencies are led by women.
“As communicators and resources for our clients, it is imperative that we are crafting strategies and messages that are strategic to the audiences we are trying to reach,” said LaTricia Woods, Founder and President of Mahogany Xan Communications, a Black and woman-owned public relations firm. “Historically, diverse voices have been missing from the head tables at public relations firms and agencies. That has to change and The Change Agencies is the catalyst for that change. Our member agencies are dynamic firms that are making a significant impact for their clients and their communities and we look forward to working with them and creating a new narrative for diversity, inclusivity, and authenticity for our industry and future clients.”
There are now more than 80 public relations professionals in 22 cities nationwide employed by or partnering with the fourteen firms in The Change Agencies. Among the services offered by the member firms are consumer marketing, public affairs, and policy communications, issues management, community relations, influencer outreach, target market research, crisis communications, annual DEI and ESG reports, DEI consulting/impact planning, creative development, website and social media development, digital ad buys and message development. The Change Agencies’ member firms have experience supporting Fortune 500 companies, privately-held firms and foundations, leading trade associations and advocacy organizations, and nonprofits in sectors including consumer, travel and tourism, healthcare and aging services, the arts, retail, telecommunications, automotive, technology, financial services, education,government, and public affairs.
“The Change Agencies wants to make it easy for businesses and organizations to find the diversity communications support that they need, be it in their geographic market, for a particular are of diversity or a specific type of communications,” added Tanya Churchmuch of MuchPR, an LGBTQ- and woman-owned public relations firm. “With the addition of these new team members we’ve broadened our reach on the kind of work we’re able to offer and where we can provide an in-person connection to those who are seeking that option. This also increases our overall bandwidth to support programs that demand a greater number of experienced personnel, while allowing us to still be there for smaller projects that are equally deserving of our attention.”
The signature offerings of The Change Agencies include The CHANGE Audit, a 360-degree, deep-dive discovery process designed to analyze, evaluate and implement appropriate communications throughout an organization; and It’s Not Pie, a communications program designed to make the case that equal rights for all does not mean fewer rights for some by shoring up internal and external support for conducting DEI programs and providing positive counterargument companies and organizations supportive of such programs can use with opponents of these programs.
“Our dramatic growth should be taken as a sign of two things: 1) interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion remains strong despite reports to the contrary; and 2) independent public relations firms led by communications professionals with deep expertise in multicultural and LGBTQ outreach and engagement will be the drivers for these conversations in the years to come,” explained Ben Finzel, president of RENEWPR, an LGBTQ-owned public relations firm. “The United States is a multicultural nation and communicators who embrace that fact and commit to celebrating and reinforcing it will be the ones who are the most successful.”
Visit The Change Agencies website at www.thechangeagencies.com for more information. See below for statements from each new member.
About The Change Agencies
The Change Agencies is a national collaborative of multicultural and LGBTQ-owned public relations firms focused on providing inclusive public relations to multicultural and LGBTQ communities. We help businesses and organizations approach, address, and answer diverse communications and marketing challenges and opportunities. Founded in 2019 by leaders of six independently-owned, diverse public relations firms located in major markets throughout the U.S.. The Change Agencies network now includes 14 agencies operating in 12 major markets. Its mission is “Changing the way businesses and consumers communicate across cultures.”
Comments from New Members of The Change Agencies
April Hale, Owner/President, A.Hale PR, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Navajo Nation
“A.Hale PR appreciates The Change Agencies for recognizing the value and impact of indigenous communicators in the public relations industry, and I am honored to join an incredible group of PR experts who stand up for progress and equity and stand by professionalism and principals. As a Diné/Navajo woman-owned business, A.Hale PR’s top priority is ensuring Native stories and histories are respectfully and appropriately represented. Through The Change Agencies, I look forward to expanding awareness and education on indigenous peoples and communities.”
Audrey Ponzio, CEO & Founder, APC Collective – Austin, Texas
“The Change Agencies is leveraging the power of diverse talent to break the mold on the traditional holding company or bigger agency network models in creating an ‘Everyone can win’ force of agency owners truly looking out for each other and banding together to get bigger shares of business. I look forward to growing with the network and continuing to help clients across all sectors engage audiences mindfully.”
Mike Utaegbulam, CEO, Black Digital – Washington, D.C.
“It’s an honor to be inducted as a member of the second class of The Change Agencies (TCA). As we face uncertain times, it’s imperative that we lean on community and as a diverse firm, we understand the importance and value of partnering with like minded organizations. With this partnership, I hope to combine the shared expertise and offerings of The Change Agencies and Black Digital to create campaigns where marginalized groups are not only seen and heard but understood and appreciated.”
Cindi Creager and Rainie Cole, Co-Owners CreagerCole Communications – New York, New York
“We are thrilled to join this powerhouse group of PR gurus who are transforming the communications landscape. We take great pride in aligning our values with like-minded firms who are amplifying the breakthroughs and achievements of diverse communities. Together, we channel our collective talents in pursuit of the greater good.”
Dr. Sandra Wills Hannon, Founder and CEO, The Hannon Group, Washington, D.C.
“Communicators can and should be leaders of change, that’s why The Hannon Group is thrilled to join The Change Agencies to accelerate our mutual mission to change the way people and businesses communicate. The Hannon Group, a distinguished minority and woman-owned business, with a team dedicated to cause-driven work, prides itself on creating inclusive, innovative, groundbreaking campaigns for our clients, and this starts by embracing and advancing diversity and inclusivity in a substantive manner.”
Zeke Stokes, President, ZS Strategies — Nashville, TN
“The choice to join The Change Agencies was an easy one for me when the opportunity came along. Nowhere on earth will you find a group of brighter, more accomplished, more compassionate, or more impactful public relations practitioners, and I couldn’t be more proud to join their ranks.”