The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) announced that Vanessa Wakeman, founder and CEO of The Wakeman Agency, one of the nation’s leading social change agencies, has joined the College as a Public Relations Department Professional-in-Residence for the 2019-20 academic year.
“We are extremely thrilled and privileged to welcome Vanessa to our College,” said Public Relations Department Chair Marcia DiStaso. “This is a great opportunity for our students to learn from her entrepreneurial and social change experience.”
Wakeman is recognized as a champion for social change and building support for mission-driven causes. She launched her agency in 2003 to provide strategic council, public relations, events, fundraising and thought leadership to nonprofit organizations.
She has served as chief strategist and masterminded engagements with U.C.L.A.’s Civil Rights Project, YWCA-NYC, New York Urban League, National Domestic Workers Alliance, The Africa-America Institute, Animal Farm Foundation, Help for Children, Metropolitan College of New York, Generation, Emmett Till Legacy Family Foundation, and many others.
In 2016, Wakeman evolved the agency’s core services to include She Roars, the first thought leadership program for women working in social change.
“I am excited to join the University of Florida community and to work with the accomplished faculty and next generation of leaders,” Wakeman said. “I was drawn to CJC’s vision and innovative approach to exploring and enhancing the practice of public relations.”
Prior to forming The Wakeman Agency, she was a senior associate at Morgan Stanley, where she re-engineered a technology department and expanded career opportunities for women and people of color.
In 2017, PRNews named her as one of “50 PR Game Changers” and PRWeek included her in their “Champions of PR”. She was also designated one of the leading women in business in the New York metro region by 914Inc. magazine in 2017.
Wakeman has been a featured speaker at UN Women, Hive, Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits and the Women’s Leadership Institute of New York. She also hosts “The Social Change Diaries” podcast, where she interviews leading figures in the nonprofit world about addressing the most pressing issues of our time.
She will be joining a public relations program that was named one of the top five programs in the nation by PRWeek magazine. Other public relations professionals-in-residence at the College include Pat Ford, former worldwide vice chair and chief client officer at Burson-Marsteller, and Mickey Nall, former managing director of Ogilvy Atlanta.