Edna Kane-Williams, AARP’s senior vice president of multicultural leadership, brought in Harriette Cole as an Encore Fellow tasked with helping the organization increase its presence in the African American/Black community.
Cole’s prior career included various leadership positions at Essence and Ebony magazines, maintaining a weekly column for 17 years, hosting a coaching series, and coaching Black recording artists — including Mary J. Blige and Alicia Keys — on public speaking.
At AARP, she helped develop a Covid-19 fact sheet designed to speak directly to the Black community, which was sent to AARP offices across the country at the start of the pandemic, and created a briefing for Black media outlets. She also began hosting a new speaker series on the AARP Black Community Facebook page — discussing life, creativity, and overcoming challenges with a wide range of Black thought leaders. To date, those virtual events have been watched by more than one million people.
“Harriette quickly became an entrenched, valuable member of our team,” Kane-Williams says. “Her insights and knowledge about public relations and communications strategy have really helped us raise the bar on the reach and impact of our work.