On Monday, Essence Communications announced to the world that by the end of the month, Michelle Ebanks will transition out of her role as CEO.
Ebanks served as the top executive at America’s leading Black woman center magazine and its enterprises since 2018. She cut her teeth at the mag in 2001 and worked hard climbing its corporate ladder for almost 20 years, working various positions and closing deals that would shift the trajectory of the publications.
The Time Inc.’s acquisition of the company was executed under her leadership and vision, as well as the 2018 Sundial Brands sale. Her goal was to keep the historic title afloat and she worked her #BlackGirlMagic to make sure that 50-year media company had the proper footing to go another 50 more.
“When I joined Essence, I could not have imagined this extraordinary journey and how it would transform me as a person and as a leader,” said Ebanks told Business Wire. “I will always be grateful for the opportunity, but most importantly for the impact that Essence continues to have on tens of millions of Black women globally. Since I began, my priority has been to position Essence for its next phase, and we’ve done that. The brand has been reestablished as 100% Black-owned and is well-positioned for continued success through what is a remarkable time of transformation and reinvention.”
In addition to the aforementioned sales, Ebanks pushed the annual Essence Festival into the must go to the epicenter of entertainment and community for not only Black women but the entirety of the nation. It is no surprise that the city of New Orleans reports that this festival has been instrumental in pumping much need economic subsidies into the city after Hurrican Katrina. a
“What we observe is a community of women who are joyful and optimistic and who attend the Essence Festival to, as Susan L. Taylor once said so eloquently…‘see each other and be with each other,’” said Ebanks. “Today, the Essence woman is a leader, achiever, and influencer; both politically and economically. She is driving the growth trends in business ownership and social activism and finds time to celebrate her beauty and embrace her culture. At the Essence Festival, we speak to her many passions… engaging her mind and her spirit.”
Essence Communications is currently looking for her new CEO. For now, Essence Ventures founder & chairman Richelieu Dennis will oversee the continued evolution of the company.
“There aren’t enough words to express the gratitude, recognition and admiration that we have for everything Michelle has brought to ESSENCE over nearly 20 years—her vision, her leadership, her advocacy, and her determination,” said Dennis in a statement. “We value her commitment to uplifting and empowering our community, as well as to building a successful business with an unmatched team of women executives who are leading the way. We are excited to continue to work alongside her on the board of Essence Ventures as we open new opportunities, access, expertise and possibilities for Black women and people of color in the most engaging, authentic and innovative ways possible. This is only the beginning.”