On Thursday, March 25th, Aba Blankson Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) spoke to the Temple PRSSA chapter. NAACP is the most prestigious civil rights organization in the country, securing the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights to eliminate race-based discrimination. With over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Blankson is very credentialed.
Blankson’s presentation began with a description of how she got started: moving from Ghana to Brooklyn, New York in the 1980s, and discovering pizza for the first time. After moving to Maryland, Blankson attended Hood College, majoring in mathematics and serving as editor of the yearbook club. She graduated from Hood College and completed her Master’s Degree in Computer Science at Towson University. Blankson continued to expand her storytelling opportunities at Towson where she was a tour guide and data analyst for the university.
“If I have an opportunity, I use all of that opportunity,” Blankson said, describing her experience as a Webmaster at Ithaca College post-graduation from Towson. She originally wanted to work for Ithaca as a Communications Coordinator, but after being offered a different position, she did not want to pass up the opportunity. “You couldn’t make a mistake because you didn’t want to be on the cover of The New York Times,” Blankson said, explaining her job as a Webmaster. “It was that level of pressure I learned to be under while at Ithaca College.”
After graduating from Ithaca, Blankson got married and returned home to Ghana, where she worked with the State Department for several years. She traveled throughout West Africa doing public relations and learned about new cultures and people. It was the first time she was exposed to how the government works.
“You never know where you’ll have to call up that experience or call up that knowledge,” she advised, referring to her position with NAACP now.
In 2011, Blankson returned to the United States and was offered a communications job at The Common Application. “At the Common App, I learned how to be the on the record person for a brand,” she said. This experience truly helped her to be confident in her next encounter as Vice President of Marketing and Communications at NAACP.
“I couldn’t have done it without all of the other stuff,” Blankson said, reflecting on her past experiences. As Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at NAACP, Blankson oversees the organization’s internal and external communications plans for brand management, public relations, marketing, and products and services. “It’s really cool. It comes with a lot of power, but it’s a lot of work,”
Blankson also took some time to answer questions from members. The most interesting perspective Blankson provided was about college majors. “No matter what your major is, you could do whatever you love. You could take that degree and tell stories: sports stories, scriptwriting. It’s an ability to learn and create what your degree is in.” To me, this truly stood out because of how diverse Blankson’s educational and professional background is, and how every step contributed to her current position with NAACP.
This blog post was written by Ashley Mir, Digital Committee Member.