The associate professor of strategic communications, with more than 30 years of professional experience in the corporate communications and public relations industry, will help lead the cross-industry coalition committed to improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the communications field.
Denise Hill, associate professor of strategic communications, has been elected board chair of the Diversity Action Alliance (DAA), a cross-industry coalition that Associate Dean Kenn Gaither called “a powerhouse group of public relations executives, educators and principals who are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion action.”
At its core, DAA is dedicated to increasing recruitment, retention and representation in management for people of color and other under-represented groups in the communications field. It is an objective dear to Hill, who has worked as a public relations practitioner on the agency and corporate side for more than three decades before transitioning to public relations education.
“The public relations industry has had a long-standing problem with diversity, equity and inclusion,” Hill said. “The industry is aware of the problem, but remains stuck at the awareness level. The Diversity Action Alliance is focused on action and improving the attraction, retention and promotion of people of color and other under-represented groups.”
In her professional roles, Hill said she saw firsthand some of the industry’s issues related to attracting and supporting individuals from under-represented communities. It is this experience that led her to get involved with DAA last year, serving as a member of the alliance’s advisory council.
As board chair, Hill will lead and direct a group of 28 industry leaders – a contingent that includes several Elon connections. Rochelle Ford, School of Communications dean; Sheryl Battles, vice president of global diversity, inclusion and engagement at Pitney Bowes and School of Communications National Advisory Board member, and Gaither all serve on the board. Additionally, Kim Hunter, chairman and CEO of the LAGRANT Foundation and frequent Elon collaborator, is also a board member.
“I’m passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion and passionate about the industry. I hope to use my experience and commitment to help the DAA continue to drive change and achieve meaningful results. I got involved with DAA because there has been too much talk and no action in the industry. It’s time to stop talking and take action that results in change.”
– Denise Hill, Associate Professor
Following the announcement of Hill’s appointment, Roger Bolton, chair of the School of Communications National Advisory Board, commended the decision and the organization’s ongoing mission.
“As the president of Page, one of the founding members of the Diversity Action Alliance, I’m so grateful to Denise Hill for agreeing to serve as chair of this coalition of organizations that have joined forces to achieve meaningful and tangible improvements in diversity, equity and inclusion in the strategic communications and public relations profession,” Bolton said. “We aspire to reflect the diversity of the populations we serve at all levels in our organizations and to increase the effectiveness of strategic communication by including all voices.”
Bolton added that Hill, whom he considers a “longtime friend,” is highly regarded throughout the industry as both a practitioner and as an academic. “Her knowledge of and insights into both diversity and strategic communication are unmatched and her leadership abilities are incredibly impressive,” he said. “Page looks forward to working with her and supporting her in this incredibly important new role.”
As part of Hill’s appointment, DAA also announced several other leadership changes, including the elevation of Carmella Glover from executive director to president of the DAA.
About the Diversity Action Alliance
The Diversity Action Alliance (DAA) is a coalition of public relations and communications leaders joining forces to accelerate progress in the achievement of meaningful and tangible results in diversity, equity and inclusion across the profession. The DAA’s goal is to achieve continuous improvement for Black professionals as measured by recruitment, retention and representation at all levels. For more information about the Diversity Action Alliance, visit www.diversityactionalliance.org.