ELEVATING YOUR PEERS:
How to be a Better Ally in the Workplace
Throughout the last year, we have noticed a common theme: There are many ways for the work in our industry to be elevated and stand out, but this is hard to accomplish without internal support and education – especially for individuals in underrepresented groups. One of the most important ways we can elevate our profession is by working hard to be better allies to our peers; working to educate ourselves and uplifting people and voices that are not often heard.
CHRISTINA STEED, MA
Christina Steed is an award-winning marketing communication expert whose experience includes previously serving as executive vice president of client relations for a boutique agency in Chicago. Her expertise includes business development, client relations, diversity, equity and inclusion, and internal and external marketing communications. She is also a consultant for global companies and agencies with Agents & Strategies (A&S), a Black-owned, women-led communications and cultural consultancy company. Her brand experience includes Cox Communications, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Nielsen, Dow Chemical, Nike Chicago, City of Chicago, and several more in various industries. Additionally, she provided strategic issues management and counsel for companies including Ferrara USA, McDonald's, AT&T, Poetry Foundation, Bimbo Bakery, Commonwealth Edison, and several others.
Christina’s background includes a mix of journalism, consumer, and business-to-business (B2B) public relations and marketing communications, social media, content marketing, stakeholder engagement, trade show marketing, and international communications. She has previously held management positions with Golin; a small B2B marcom agency focused on global trade show marketing; and an international food service packaging manufacturer.
With a lifelong commitment to quality storytelling, she began her career in broadcast journalism after receiving her B.S. in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her M.A. in Strategic Communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia’s School of Journalism.
Christina has been featured in PRWeek, PR News, PR Newswire, and Rolling Out. She is also a podcaster with her podcast “Firsts Over Forty” and a creator/host/producer of CAN-TV’s signature show “For the Culture with Christina Steed.” She is an adjunct professor and professional fellow in the College of Communication with a focus on multicultural marketing communications at DePaul University as well as serves on the dean’s advisory board.
Christina enjoys reading, writing, traveling, attending live concerts, yoga, and social media surfing. She is a former board member and treasurer of the Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC), the Black Public Relations Society (BPRS), ColorComm, and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). She currently serves as chair on the board of Chicago State University Foundation and is a board member of Girls Like Me Project, Open Books and the Chicago Reader. She previously served on the board of the South Side Community Art Center and on the Executive Committee for the American Diabetes Association Step Out Walk. She has been recognized as one of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 Rising Stars, Ariel Investments and WVON’s 1690 40 Game Changers in Chicago and has received numerous awards for her marketing communications campaigns from Bulldog Reporter, PCC, NABJ, and other organizations. A native of Chicago’s south suburbs, she is married and currently resides in Chicago and Atlanta.
Visit Christina’s website at www.christinasteed.com and follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
Zach Hamilton is an account executive at G&S Business Communications, where they help financial services and fintech clients tell their stories via media relations and other communications efforts. In addition to their client work, Zach is an instrumental part of G&S’ Think Differently Together (TDT) employee resource group, where they develop programming that bolsters employees’ awareness and understanding of different identities and culturally significant events. Zach is based in Chicago, where they are active in queer nightlife as a part of a drag house as a designer/assistant. Zach attended Iowa State University and got their start in communications as a part of the National FFA Organization, where they work as a leadership facilitator and specialize in DE&I training.
BRIAN J. PACKER
Brian J. Packer is an award-winning public relations professional based in Chicago. In his current role as Director of Media Relations he manages earned media outreach and multicultural media strategy at GOLIN. In previous roles he has also managed influencer/celebrity engagement, event sponsorships, social media and strategic marketing initiatives for Fortune 100 brands like AT&T, McDonald’s, MillerCoors and Nike.
With more than 15 years of expertise, Brian’s professional background includes a mix of marketing communications for consumer goods, non-profits, educational institutions and sports & entertainment properties.
Brian received his B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Morehouse College and a M.A. in Media and Communication from DePaul University. He also is a graduate of the IMPACT Leadership Development Program with the Chicago Urban League and University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
In his spare time, Brian is a music enthusiast who enjoys traveling, watching films, collecting pop culture memorabilia and attending live events. Brian is a member of the Black Public Relations Society and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated and actively volunteers as a mentor with Urban Prep Academies and sits on the alumni board of High Jump Chicago.
Kristen is a partner at Change for Balance (C4B), a full-service strategic communications and production agency on a lifelong journey to change this world for the better.
A writer at heart, she is an experienced strategist and communicator, with 20+ years executing successful branding efforts, internal/external communications, digital and integrated marketing, corporate development, fundraising, crisis work, entertainment and influencer relations. She relishes bringing important causes to life, refining the voice, clarifying complex issues, and then, finding entertaining and emotional ways to reach expanded audiences and compel them to act.
Change for Balance is an expansion of her time at CK&D, a former cause marketing company. Prior, Kristen was Easterseals' VP Communications, the country’s largest disability services organization. Here, she was part the national executive team, collaborating on its business and directly supporting senior staff and the CEO in all communications. She proudly served as the point for all media and issues management, guiding Easterseals rebranding, campaigns and thought leadership efforts, developing brand ambassadors and marketing staff nationwide, professionally training all to share clear points of view. Today, she is a volunteer Board of Directors member for her local Easterseals affiliate.
Kristen started her career with a long stint at Edelman. While here, Kristen fell in love with Easterseals and the disability inclusion cause. Together with Judi Ketcik, the two pitched and won the new Easterseals account. Essentially, changing their careers and setting a path to partners, Roddy Tabatabai, John McCarthy and C4B. And when lifelong friends join forces, good things happen.
Kristen splits time between Chicago, with her husband Chad and Hazel & Violet (their Boston Terriers), and Southern California, with C4B. She’s been known to taste all the wine in Santa Barbara, run the occasional marathon, and offer up good book recs.