By Lauren Poteat (NNPA Newswire Contributor)
As a rising star in the public relations field, Alonda Thomas has always sought to inspire young, Black women who want to break into the industry.
Earlier this year, Thomas was named the Director of Public Relations in Howard University’s Office of Communications.
“At Howard, my goal is to continue to promote the brand of this amazing institution,” Thomas said. “[Howard University] has a lot of really great things happening that the public and media don’t know about and my mission is to really bring those things to the forefront and shed additional light on such a dynamic institution.”
Prior to joining Howard University’s staff, Thomas worked as the senior public relations manager at TV One.
In 2017, Thomas was honored as one of the “Top 25 African American PR Millennials to Watch.”
“One of my favorite quotes is by Henry David Thoreau: ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined,’” Thomas said. “I discovered this quote back in high school, and it always reminds me that I have to be a willing and active participant in making my dreams come true. Since there is a plan already designed for my life, why wouldn’t I move confidently in the direction of making those dreams attainable?”
Thomas continued: “I think we, as a society, spend way too much time trying to justify why we can’t achieve success instead of just operating in faith that it is already done.”
Hailing from Miami, Florida, it wasn’t until Thomas attended the historically Black college Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), that she knew that she was destined for a career in public relations.
“PR was a passion I stumbled upon while attending Florida A&M, after a fellow classmate told me they thought I would be really good at the job,” Alonda said. “I pretty much took off from there. College was where I got my start, however I believe my success comes from my willingness to continuously keep learning.”
Thomas said that young, Black women who are considering a career in public relations, shouldn’t be afraid to take direction and try something new.
“I went through a lot of internships and worked for free many times, but it was all worth it,” Thomas said, advising Black millennials to, “Zoom into what you want and then go for it.”
Thomas’ resume includes work on successful projects like ABC’s “black-ish,” Spike Lee’s “Chi-raq,” and CNN’s “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell.”
The Miami native said that working at TV One was an amazing opportunity, where she was able to grow and learn.
“I worked on a lot of amazing projects including TV One’s ‘Unsung’ where I secured interviews with [rhythm and blues trio] SWV, and [celebrities] like Wyclef Jean, hip-hop artist Fat Joe and the R&B group Jagged Edge,” Thomas said.
Thomas also booked actor and hip-hop legend Ice-T’s first-ever interview with Essence magazine.
Thomas said that she is heavily-inspired by media mogul Cathy Hughes.
“I believe her story of perseverance despite personal obstacles is inspiring and demonstrates that you can accomplish anything no matter the challenge,” Thomas said. “As it pertains to where I am at in my own career path, she reminds me that the sky’s the limit and that the only person who can hold me back is me.”
Thomas continued: “Cathy Hughes’ story is the American dream. It is so motivating to know that a woman from humble beginnings could take a vision and buy a radio station and grow it into a successful multi-faceted media company. If she did it, so can I. If she made it, so can you.”
Gwendolyn Quinn, a global media and communications strategist, called Thomas a star.
Quinn, who partnered with Antonice Jackson, the president of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the National Black Public Relations Society, to develop the “Top 25 African American PR Millennials to Watch” list.
“She represents so many great qualities as a writer, communicator, worker and personality,” Quinn said. “We received over 200 applications. Out of the 200, only 25 people were selected. Out of that 25, I was only involved in hand-picking five and Alonda was one of my first picks.”
Quinn continued: “This business can be very strenuous, but Alonda always keeps a cool head and that trait alone is invaluable.”