ST. LOUIS: Fleishman-Hillard has introduced the first class of its Alfred Fleishman Diversity Fellows, a program that aims to increase diversity in the industry.
The agency awarded six minority professionals six- to 12-month paid fellowships, including benefits. The recipients are Will Alexander, a graduate of Butler University who will work in the New York office; Whitney Boggs, who holds a master's degree from American University and will also work in New York; Branché Foston, University of Southern California graduate, in Chicago; Leah Girma, a Southern Illinois University Edwardsville graduate to be based in St. Louis; Erin Jordan, who has a master's from the University of Houston and will work in Dallas; and Jasmine Nesi, who will work in the Washington DC office and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The fellows will work as regular employees at the agency but rotate through practice groups. Each fellow has a senior-level mentor and will be considered for full-time employment at Fleishman following the program.
“They've let us know that we're not just interns; our opinions matter,” said Boggs, who started working at Fleishman June 11.
Fellowships were open to college seniors and recent graduates. Candidates had to submit an application form, resume, cover letter, writing samples, and two letters of recommendation.
Fleishman held an orientation for the fellows at its St. Louis headquarters at the end of last month. President and global CEO Dave Senay met with the group and talked with them about how the industry can become more attractive for minorities.
“I came with a whole list of questions, but he had so many questions to ask us,” said Jordan, who started working at the firm June 5.
Senay said he hopes the program will grow and that other agencies will start their own diversity initiatives.
“If every agency chips in, we are going to get on top of this and make diversity second nature to the industry,” he said.Fleishman will begin to recruit for the second class of fellows next January. The program is named after agency co-founder Alfred Fleishman.