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ESPN Provides Unconventional Virtual Wisdom For NABJ/NAHJ Conference

With employees participating remotely, ESPN continues proud tradition of supporting the nation's largest organizations for journalists of color

ESPN was well represented last week at the National Black Journalists and National Hispanic Journalists Virtual Convention and Career Fair.

Wokie Daboh, director of Diversity & Inclusion, and Schalitda Strong, associate manager, Talent Acquisition, spearheaded ESPN’s overall presence at the convention.

The two planned ESPN-sponsored panels; coordinated the popular NABJ Sports Taskforce Mentor Workshop; innovated a virtual culture booth staffed by ambassadors who engaged conventioneers on the “ESPN culture” during the four-day convention; and created a virtual meeting space for prospective employees to interact with ESPN recruiters.

Additionally, executives from across The Walt Disney Company – Maxine Crooks (ABC, Owned TV); Libby Geist (ESPN); James Goldston (ABC News); Rob King (ESPN); Cat McKenzie (Good Morning America); Kevin Merida (The Undefeated); Marie Nelson (ABC News); David Roberts (ESPN); Freddie Rolon (ESPN/ESPN Deportes); Maria Soares (ESPN), Ryan Spoon (ESPN), and more – appeared on panels on topics such as storytelling and innovation in a time of disruption.

ESPN at #NABJNAHJ20 marks another year the company has successfully participated in the annual gathering of the nation’s largest organization for journalists of color. Over the years, the company supports the NABJ and NAHJ through an array of joint initiatives that foster ESPN’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

In this video, Daboh and Strong discuss ESPN’s presence at the 2020 NABJ-NAHJ virtual convention.

Below, ESPN ambassadors reflect on their experiences participating in the conference.

Carlos Cabán, deputy editor,
“It is a thrill to engage with journalism students and prospective job candidates expressing a desire to work for ESPN. The recruiting booth chat rooms resembled those AOL chatrooms from back-in-the-day. The interviews with candidates were via video, which provided face-to-face.”

Jalaine Edwards, associate producer:
“Reflecting on this year’s conference, my biggest takeaway is always the sense of community. Being able to give someone advice that is starting their career and also finding gems that would be a great fit for us and amplifying them to a possible opportunity is a great feeling. I always feel like I am making a difference in the sports media landscape being at the booth.”

Ignacio Garcia, coordinating producer:
“It allowed me to help students and young professionals who are striving to work in the entertainment industry by sharing more about ESPN’s culture, talking about their journey and even finding a way to connect them with someone that can help them get an internship, and ultimately a job within ESPN. Every time I attend the NAHJ conference, I feel that I can make an impact in my newsroom because I am able to contribute to my personal goal of making newsrooms across the United States more diverse.”

Stephanie Grant, senior manager, Events:
“My biggest takeaway or reflection from participating as an ESPN recruiter is the opportunity to have conversations with many young and talented attendees about various careers at ESPN and fully embracing I will be a part of the team to select future minority talent and the importance of that role.”

Dayna Lee, associate supervisor, production operations:
“Given the disheartening things that are happening in our world, people entering or transitioning in the workforce have true concern about inclusion and culture. I love ESPN’s approach to answering questions surrounding this concern by creating a culture booth! It was a safe space to learn more about the company and ask those burning questions that one may have about our organization. In the booth, we have a cross-pollination of employees who have been with the company for two years, to employees like myself in the 10-plus year club. This broadened the perspective of information given in the booth, and allowed people to receive true accounts of what it is like to work here,”

Roberto Mucciacciaro, associate recruiter:
“Our recruiting team began preparing for the conference last year. When we found out that the conference was going virtual, we adjusted our plans accordingly. Our team did a great job leading up to the conference, adjusting plans, and learning new features to ensure we were prepared for a virtual format. We also had to pivot quite quickly as many of us were left without power the night before the conference because of the tropical storm Isaias. Our team did an amazing job innovating and putting new plans in place literally hours before the conference to ensure we did not miss a beat.”

Dave Roberts, Senior Vice President, Production:
“The company has a wealth and depth of talented African Americans and Hispanics who are committed to the challenge of achieving real change and measurable results as it relates to highly impactful diversity – the diversity that will best represent the markets we serve which will only prove beneficial to the overall success of the company,.”

Maria Soares, senior coordinating producer
“For me, the virtual conference did not mean you are less connected. I was still able to enjoy and learn from great discussions with fantastic people. If anything, I felt I was able to take advantage of more than I usually would since it was so easy to jump to different parts.”

Jon McLeod produced the video.

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