Introduction by Rinki
Houston is known as a melting pot of cultures. It is the fourth-largest city in the United States and is a minority-majority city. This was one of the reasons I did not feel homesick when I first moved to Houston from India. This city boasts a sizable multicultural community. In fact, if I could name one person who accurately captured the essence of Houston, it would be the late Anthony Bourdain in his Parts Unknown episode when he visited our city.
As a local marketing organization, the Houston chapter of the American Marketing Association has a solemn responsibility to represent and serve its diverse local marketing community. With this in mind, last year, our chapter president appointed the first DEI director to lay the groundwork for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts at a chapter level. I was honored to serve as the first DEI officer in the Houston chapter. Diversity and inclusion was the overarching theme of last year’s Marketing Edge conference (one of our major events of the year), the October luncheon, and an Academy event. More about last year’s efforts is available on this blog post. As we began our chapter level DEI initiative last year, we learned a lot and realized that we can do significantly more to make a meaningful impact on our local marketing community.
This year, in order to enhance our chapter-level DEI efforts to a new level, Catrina Ballard has accepted the role of DEI director. I am excited to welcome her and anticipate a year full of purposeful DEI efforts. She comes in with some fresh perspectives and a lot of ideas to share.
What’s next in AMAH’s DEI Efforts by Catrina
As a native Houstonian and a proud product of the most ethnically diverse city in the nation, I am thrilled to bring my perspective on diversity, equity and inclusion to our chapter as the incoming DEI director. As Rinki previously stated, Houston is a beautifully multicultural community that offers endless opportunities for cultural engagement to individuals who seek it.
My mission in joining AMA Houston is to help to build a marketing community that is as diverse as the city it represents, from the top down. There are already some incredible initiatives begun by those who have come before me that I am so excited to support and help develop.
I see my role as helping enhance what is already being done by providing a lens to view our efforts in a way that promotes continued diversity and inclusion. It is so important to be intentional about creating space for voices who may have traditionally been ignored to be heard, valued, and taken seriously. As a woman of color, I have experienced what it feels like to have my voice ignored due to circumstances outside of my control, and creating a space for every voice to be heard and considered is more than a directive, it is work of heart.
I am so excited to bring fresh voices to AMA Houston through delivering a DEI-focused event as well as by serving in a consultant type-role where I can be involved in conversations happening throughout AMA Houston to enhance our inclusion of voices from all areas.
As an entrepreneur with a counseling and psychology background, I am constantly reminded of the value of relationships and how much we can accomplish in symphony with other professionals with similar goals. My aim is to build relationships across many different arenas and use those relationships to create space for different voices to be heard and invited to have a seat at the table.
I recently had the chance to watch Hamilton for the first time, and like many, I was an instant, huge fan. In one scene, the incomparable Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Aaron Burr, sings about wanting to “be in the room where it happens.” I was so struck by that performance because like Leslie Odom Jr.’s character, so many of us want to be “in the room where it happens,” and so few voices are truly included. My goal is to expand the “room where it happens” to make sure that when decisions are made, thoughts and ideas are shared and when it comes to the voices that are heard, they include a diversity of thoughts and ideas that truly represent the best of us all.
Rinki Mukherjee is an experienced visual designer and has an eye for all things creative. She currently works as a design QC specialist/graphic designer for Cella Studios at Chevron. She is a strong advocate of inclusion in the workforce and is a believer in giving back to the community. She volunteers in multiple organizations where education is the conduit for personal growth and success. She has an MBA from the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston and she recently completed her Diversity Management certificate course from the University of Dallas.
Catrina Ballard is an entrepreneur who believes that connection is at the heart of significant progress and accomplishment, professionally and personally. She consults with small businesses to improve employee communication, culture, and retention through the company she owns, Root & Restore. Catrina has a diverse professional background that includes experience in the fields of counseling and psychology, higher education, and entrepreneurship, which give her a unique perspective and approach to her work. Catrina holds a M.S. Ed. From Baylor University in Educational Psychology and is an Enneagram 4. She is a huge sports junkie, hates scary movies, and genuinely values your story.