After seven years with the city of Charlotte, public relations specialist Denada Jackson is moving on, taking a new role as senior advisor at NP Strategy, a public relations firm based in Columbia.
Jackson is a Charlotte native, HBCU graduate and is active in the community.
She holds a journalism and mass communications degree from North Carolina A&T State University and is currently a board member of the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation, which provides free programs and educational opportunities for underserved youth.
In her most recent job in city government, Jackson supported Mayor Vi Lyles and City Council, including coordinating initiatives with the White House and the North Carolina governor’s office.
Her last day with the city is Sept. 30.
What led you to NP Strategy?
The team sold me. Their enthusiasm was over the top. Everyone has diverse experience, ranging from media relations, strategic communications and government. Those ingredients make a wonderful team of people with high energy and drive to do well with clients.
I was also looking for my next adventure. I started my career at a public relations firm. My very first job, I was finding ways to tell clients’ stories in unique ways. It seemed really natural to come back to a firm and be able to work with different clients each day.
How is this position different from your public-facing role?
This is definitely a leadership opportunity in a way that I can have more vision and strategy toward clients and client work. With the city, I was executing a lot of different strategies from [the city council] or the city manager’s office. This job gives me the opportunity to [create] some of the vision and strategy myself.
Do you see yourself as an example for other young Black women in the corporate world?
I’m happy to be able to talk about, for lack of a better term, my own perspective, my own upbringing and how that impacts community work. I know NPS+ has done a lot of community stakeholder relations in South Carolina, and I’m hoping to bring a bit of that [to] Charlotte, and not only because I’m a Black female but also a Charlotte native. [I have] been here for nearly 40 years. Just being able to tell that story, to share [my] background and history, brings perspective.
What are some tips you have for young professionals?
When I was in school, I had some rigorous internships. I started in entertainment and sports at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and with the senior vice president of the Charlotte Hornets. One thing they don’t teach [students] is relationship management. It is literally the most important skill anyone can have.
Being able to make personal connections with folks, learn about what they like, what their goals are. I work with clients to find the deeper meanings and goals and have very intimate conversations.
It is a skill not everybody is able to have because it takes a level of emotional intelligence. It can be exhausting, but it’s worth it. Even personally being able to reach out and just knowing when people’s birthdays are, or if their kids are playing in a certain game, just show up. Just little touches mean the world.
How will you continue to serve the city of Charlotte in this position?
I definitely want to bring [my clients’] commitment to upward mobility, for the city of Charlotte as a whole, to the conversation every time if I can. Upward mobility and equity [are] always a huge deal, and that’s a conversation I have because I understand.
I grew up off Beatties Ford Road, so I completely have an understanding of wanting folks to reach their maximum potential. It’s a matter of helping organizations to promote how folks can get to those resources, what jobs are available, what trainings are available. There are so many businesses here and so many ways to get involved, but sometimes people don’t amplify those opportunities the way they may want to.