ESSENCE, a fully black-owned media, technology and commerce company dedicated to black women and communities, has announced its executive leadership team. These appointments are part of the final phases of the restructuring process aimed at positioning the company for continued growth and maximum impact following its acquisition from Time corporation.

This transformation has included, among other focus areas, building critical operational infrastructure across finance, human resources and technology; making significant investments across ESSENCE magazine. Digital, e-commerce and experiential platform have resulted in the brand, almost doubling its reach over three years.

Among the appointees is Kenyan-born Caroline Wanga, an innovative and inspirational thought leader and public speaker and earned her bachelor’s degree from HBCU Texas College. She has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer, ESSENCE and Chief Growth Officer, Essence Ventures

Wanga, has served as Interim CEO of ESSENCE for seven months, and has now been officially appointed as Chief Executive Officer. She joined Essence Ventures, parent company of ESSENCE, as Chief Growth Officer in 2020 from Target Corporation, where she served as Chief Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Wanga began her Target career in supply chain, serving in a variety of transformational leadership roles, including modernizing Supply Chain, Business Intelligence, Digital and Strategy capabilities.

Prior to that, she held several non-profit roles. Among other accolades, Wanga has been named Top Executive in Corporate Diversity by Black Enterprise and recognized at Savoy Most Powerful Women in Corporate America, member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), the Talladega College Board of Trustees and the American Airlines Community Council. She previously served on the Intersectionality, Culture, and Diversity Advisory Board for Twitter and as co-chair of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Diversity & Inclusion Initiative.

Commenting on the appointment, Wanga said, “Since the beginning of time, Black women have been changing lives, changing communities, and changing the world – and most often have not been recognized for it. It is what we do, and for the past 50 years, the evolution of Black women’s history—and thus, the evolution of the Black woman—has been captured and curated in one place and one place only: ESSENCE.”

The executive team consists of the following

  • Caroline Wanga, Chief Executive Officer, ESSENCE and Chief Growth Officer, Essence Ventures
  • Latraviette D. Smith-Wilson, Chief Strategy & Engagement Officer
  • Avani Patel, Chief Operating Officer
  • Cori Murray, Deputy Editor
  • Stephanie Hodges-Dunivan – Vice President, Experiential, Branded Content & Video