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Black entrepreneurs, change agents celebrated during Black History Month

“To some, it’s referenced Black History Month. I reference it Black History Life. It’s 24/7/365 for me. To me, Black History Month is a means and a celebration of how I live on brand daily. It’s celebration of culture… and knowing that I stand on the shoulders of so many.”
– Kimberly A. Blackwell, CEO of PMM Agency

To celebrate Black History Month and the many Black entrepreneurs and difference makers across the country, Nationwide asked Kimberly A. Blackwell, CEO of PMM Agency, and former NFL wide receiver Torrey Smith to share how their success put them in position to create opportunity for others.

Kimberly A. Blackwell, CEO, PMM Agency
Kimberly calls herself a chief visionary officer. At PMM, she’s at the helm of an award-winning agency that helps manage the communications and branding for a wide range of clients — from Fortune 100 companies to government agencies – but her vision extends beyond the agency she founded 21 years ago from her 600 square foot apartment. Blackwell’s belief that, “to whom much is given, much is required” guides her commitment to drive change for diverse communities.

This business owner, investor and philanthropist is intentional about investing in Black businesses. “Companies have taken a bet on me and it’s important that we continue to take those same bets on other companies,” said Blackwell.

Beyond leading her company, which counts Nationwide as a client, Blackwell is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, the Women Presidents’ Organization, the National Black MBA Association and serves as a board member for several local community organizations.

In the full conversation below, Kimberly talks about her career path, those who have inspired her, and her efforts to lessen the gap for people, especially women, who are looking to build their financial future through business ownership.

    Torrey Smith, former NFL wide receiver
    Former NFL wide receiver Torrey Smith, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens following a standout collegiate career at Maryland, achieved the pinnacle of his profession by becoming a two-time Super Bowl champion with Baltimore and Philadelphia. Before making the pros, Smith made a promise to himself to make a difference.

    “If I was ever in a position to help others, that’s what I would do,” Smith said.

    During his eight NFL seasons, Smith used his high-profile position as a platform to affect positive change and champion social justice causes. His efforts made him a three-time nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide. The award recognizes players who demonstrate excellence not only on the field, but also in their community, and is considered the League’s most prestigious honor.

    Since retiring as a player in 2019, Smith has been dedicated to community collaboration and activism through the work of his LEVEL82 (Leadership. Education. Vision. Effort. Love.) non-profit in his adopted hometown of Baltimore. Torrey shares more about his journey, his passion projects, his thoughts on social justice in today’s climate and much more in the full conversation below.

      Nationwide celebrates Black History Month
      Throughout February, Nationwide also celebrated and honored Black History Month with its employees by partnering with its Black Associate Resource Groups to celebrate the past, present and future of African American culture with educational programs and resources. The Black History Month programs and education are designed to further empower employees to make a difference in our communities. The programs and educational sessions focused on Black Wall Street, building wealth through generations, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and collectively activating change and promoting progress.

      The Fortune 100 company also launched a social media campaign demonstrating extraordinary care to diverse communities and highlighting the impact Black leaders, businesses and partner organizations are making throughout the country. Posts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter spotlighted our partnerships with Black Enterprise, The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, National Black MBA Association, National Urban League, National Fair Housing Alliance and more.

      Nationwide’s efforts to combat social injustice extend beyond the month of February. Last summer in the wake of social justice protests across the country, the organization reasserted it commitment to social justice with multi-million dollar and multi-year commitments, in support of local and national programs dedicated to social justice. Ongoing support for Black Enterprise, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the National Black MBA Association, National Urban League, and the Executive Leadership Council’s Scholarship Fund, among many others, also reinforces the company’s commitment to influence positive change and create opportunity.

      Nationwide also supports the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) through its Keys Unlock Dreams initiative, which is focused on reducing disparities in housing and household wealth by making homeownership more feasible for Black and Hispanic families.

      Internally, Nationwide’s creation of its associate-led Social Justice Task Force has enabled Nationwide employees to provide actionable recommendations for how the company can continue to promote social justice in education, employment and economic mobility, housing and criminal justice.

      To further these efforts, Nationwide hosted a new, six-week giving campaign in which employee contributions to nonprofit partners National Fair Housing Alliance, National Urban League, Equal Justice Initiative or the NAACP Legal Defense Fund received a matching donation from the Nationwide Foundation. The campaign gave associates the chance to take positive action and support organizations well-positioned to address social justice in our country. 

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