LOS ANGELES: Burson-Marsteller veteran Patrick Ford has joined the Lagrant Foundation’s board as the two organizations team up to launch an initiative aimed at helping young African-American males enter the PR industry.
Lagrant, a nonprofit that provides scholarships, educational support, and career guidance for minorities pursuing careers in PR, marketing, and advertising, appointed Ford as a board member earlier this month. Ford, who joined Burson in 1989, will help Lagrant coordinate the joint initiative while continuing in his role at the agency as worldwide vice chair, chief client officer, and Asia-Pacific chair.
As part of the effort, Burson will partner with colleges and universities to recruit, train, and develop African-American men who are in their junior and senior years of college and pursuing communications careers.
"It is important that our team at Burson, in the PR profession, and in the broader communications and marketing field continues to reflect the diversity in our society," Ford told PRWeek. "We are deeply committed to that, and one step in that process is joining forces with Lagrant."
Ford added that he hopes his peers and other agencies will be motivated to get behind the effort.
While Burson and Lagrant have yet to flesh out all the details of the new initiative, they plan to target historically black colleges and universities, such as Scripps Howard School of Journalism at Hampton University, based in Hampton, Virginia; and Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Ford and Lagrant chairman and CEO Kim Hunter are both members of Scripps’ advisory board.
"We want to address the issue with the lack of African-American men entering the PR field and the lack of African-American men in leadership roles at agencies," Hunter said.
This isn’t the first time that Burson and Lagrant have worked together. In 2011, the agency’s founding chairman Harold Burson personally donated $50,000 to Lagrant to be spread out over the course of five years, creating the Harold Burson Fellowship Program. As part of the four-week fellowship, one graduate student is selected to travel to New York and complete various assignments, visit PR firms and other companies, and meet with top PR executives.