Wanga is the president and CEO of Essence Ventures, which houses several brands aimed at creating a far-reaching Black economic ecosystem. The brands include: ESSENCE Communications Inc, the No.1 media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women and communities; Afropunk, the multi-media platform that uplifts and unleashes Black expression and individuality now and in the future; BeautyCon, the experiential and content focused platform that aims to transcend the aesthetic of attraction and enable an individualized empowered existence and experience on what beauty is; and Essence Studios, a production studio and original content hub focused on authentic Black story-telling, story-making, story-sharing and story-doing, as stated by the brand’s website.
Wanga has worked her way up since she joined ESSENCE Ventures as its chief growth officer in 2020 after serving as Target’s chief culture, diversity, and inclusion officer. At the popular retailer, Wanga rose through the ranks, beginning her career in the supply chain in a variety of leadership roles that helped transform the company’s capabilities. The Kenyan- born Wanga defines herself as a cultural architect, and Ford says what she and ESSENCE bring to Dillard’s home base of New Orleans has been inspiring. “Wanga is an excellent voice for students to hear from as they graduate, as the next generation of leaders. While being a young mother, she graduated and then worked her way up from several entry-level positions to become one of the most influential, powerful thought leaders”, she said. “With nearly 70% of our student population being Black women, I’m confident that she will share encouraging words that will inspire both men and women to be great contributors to society’. She continued, “Additionally, the Essence Festival of Culture™ has made an indelible impact on New Orleans, economically and culturally. Her leadership has deepened this relationship between Essence and New Orleans.”
The prospective graduates of Dillard University are certainly in for an inspirational commencement ceremony.