While it’s only been two weeks since Nicole Johnson-Reece became the new executive director of the Multicultural Affairs Congress, she regards the position as an ideal fit.
She brings a well-rounded background in the areas of finance, multicultural marketing and diversity to her new role.
“This was an opportunity to take advantage of all of those experiences, what I personally love, what I’m naturally good at and the unique diversity of my career experience,” said Johnson-Reece.
“It’s wonderful when you can align your talents and interests and have a position like this come along that is such a phenomenal match for who I am and what I enjoy.”
She is charged with working with the Philadelphia Convention and Bureau’s team to promote the city to a multicultural client base that includes religious organizations, family reunions, national and regional associations, fraternal organizations, and professional and trade associations. Johnson-Reece will also work with the hospitality community to encourage business, employment and training opportunities for multicultural professionals within Philadelphia’s tourism and hospitality sector.
“MAC is an important differentiator for Philadelphia and the convention and visitors bureau, so Nicole’s role is a key one, within the organization as well as in the community and with our customers,” Jack Ferguson, president and CEO, PCVB said in a release.
Johnson-Reece has joined MAC at a time when the organization is marking its 25th anniversary. She noted that MAC is well recognized in the city amongst the local and regional hospitality industry for its contributions in bringing visitors to the city. She wants to woo more international business to the city by tapping the markets of Africa, China, India and South America, especially the areas of Brazil and Chile.
She also aspires to bring a signature cultural event to the city such as a major concert or film festival that will ultimately draw visitors from outside the Philadelphia region.
“Ultimately as a bureau is to put heads in beds and fill hotel rooms, primarily with trade shows and conventions but also conferences and meetings, but there is also the opportunity to do that through events. You just have to have that signature event that people will come to from all over,” said Johnson-Reece.
Johnson-Reece seeks to elevate people’s awareness of what Philadelphia has to offer.
“From a multicultural perspective people may not realize just how much there is in Philadelphia,” she said.
“I think people primarily think about the historic district and don’t think of it as that cool, sexy, hip place. There’s just so much available for people to see and experience.”
Johnson-Reece comes to MAC with an extensive background in the corporate sector. She started her corporate career 20 years ago in the finance department of AT&T. She would later move into the company’s international marketing division where she focused on the sub-Saharan African and Caribbean markets. The role gave her an understanding for target marketing to a unique group.
Working in the multicultural marketing eventually led her to pursue a career as a diversity leader.
Prior to joining MAC, Johnson-Reece served as a consultant where she advised local companies on their diversity practices.
Johnson-Reece says diversity should be an overall part of how business is conducted due to the changing demographics of the world.
“If you don’t understand that you have customers, you have clients, you have employees who may have unique and difference needs, you are positioning yourself for failure going forward because if you want to recruit you have to recruit differently. If you want to market, you have market with a different message in a different place – it could be the same product – you just have to sell it differently,” said Johnson-Reece, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Rutgers University.
“You have to continue to adapt to the changing marketplace,” she said.
Johnson-Reece was the first diversity leader for two Fortune 500 companies, most recently, as vice president, global diversity and inclusion for ARAMARK Corporation. During her tenure with ARAMARK, Johnson-Reece created the first global diversity and inclusion strategy, which provided an enterprise-wide, comprehensive approach to adapt to the ever-changing needs of a global marketplace. Key initiatives included the launch of an Executive Leadership Council, the first company diversity report, a Women’s Leadership initiative and Leading Inclusion education sessions for the top executives.
Prior to joining ARAMARK, she served as the vice president, diversity and inclusion, with the Cendant Hospitality Group, now Wyndham Worldwide.
Johnson-Reece was named one of the “Top Blacks in the Lodging Industry” by Black Meetings and Tourism magazine and one of the “Top 100 Blacks in Corporate America” by Black Professionals magazine.
“Nicole possesses stellar leadership skills and is a respected professional in the multicultural arena,” William Wilson, chairman of the MAC board said in a release.
“She is a strategic thinker who brings great experience, energy and leadership to her new position. Throughout her accomplished career, she has demonstrated her skills as a coalition builder and an expert in multicultural and diverse markets. She will be an asset in our mission to promote our diverse city as a premier destination. I look forward to working with Nicole in her new role.”
She has served on the advisory boards for MAC and Dress for Success Philadelphia, the board of the Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance and is currently the co-chair of the National Diversity Advisory Council of the American Red Cross.
Johnson-Reece, a resident of Burlington County, N.J., juggles her work at MAC with raising two children.