CultureCon is back and headed to New York City. And you better believe the team behind the hit conference is truly a force to be reckoned with!
As an industry-leading conference for creatives, young professionals, and disruptors from all over the nation, CultureCon is known as “the ultimate creative homecoming.” Presented by Max this year, CultureCon offers an expanded conference that focuses on diversity, inclusivity, and the intersections of culture and business. Built from the imaginations of founder Imani Lee’s “The Creative Collective NYC (The CCNYC),” CultureCon is now one of the preeminent gatherings for young professionals looking to find their community, build key skills necessary to thrive in the market, and gain the inspiration necessary to boldly launch into the next phase of their lives.
Because of Them We Can had the opportunity to sit down with the team behind culture’s biggest conference, gleaning insight into just what makes CultureCon so very magical.
Eric Jones, Talent Lead for CultureCon and The CCNYC, has been with Ellis since everything was just an idea, officially joining the team in 2018. For him, it wasn’t just about the mission of what Ellis was trying to create but also the community that they were trying to build and the potential it had to get him closer to his dreams as well.
“After supporting from the sidelines, Imani asked me if I would consider being a part of this novel agency and conference she started. It was a no-brainer for me. Little did she know, I was craving more beyond my day job as a morning show booker. [It’s] an amazing day job. Don’t get me wrong. But I knew there was more out there for me, my brand, and my talent. I wanted to be ‘Eric Jones the talent producer extraordinaire.’ And this opportunity helped me do just that,” Jones said.
Digital & Marketing Producer Kaitlyn Miranda had a similar experience. But she joined the team after attending CultureCon back in 2019. Like Jones, she too recognized the value of community in business, especially as a recent college graduate. For Miranda, CultureCon was the home she didn’t know she needed.
“CultureCon was the first place that created space for me to feel seen and heard. Knowing that there were people who look like me that just get it truly inspired me and ignited the idea of finding a way to be a part of something so major,” Miranda explained.
It’s that community so deeply embedded into the fabric of CultureCon that drives it. Not only do people come for job advice and networking, they come in expectation of their careers leveling up. Attendees are looking to gain invaluable advice or meet their tribe. And it’s something that’s just not as palpable at other work-related events. It’s something Sunny Dae, Senior Events and Production Manager for The CCNYC, says is intentional and essentially the ethos of what CultureCon does.
“The work we are doing is important because spaces that thoughtfully and genuinely center the wants and needs of people that look like us, that empower people that look like us, and that nurture the personal and professional growth of people that look like us is important,” said Dae.
“The work we do empowers Black and brown creatives to dream big and advocate for themselves in all aspects of life. It’s a space I wish I had early in my career. I think it’s crucial for this generation to have a community space like CultureCon that is intentionally built for us, by us,” added CultureCon Events & Brand Manager Shanae Bass.
It’s that level of intentionality that’s necessary for a generation of Black and brown professionals who feel chronically siloed and unsupported on their career journeys. According to a Pew Research Study, around 39% of adults ages 25-37 have at least a bachelor’s degree. And while millennials are more educated than previous generations, they have not seen an increase financially for their efforts.
In fact, millennials are making less than their parents were at the same age despite being more educated. This has impacted their ability to become homeowners, build families early, and reach other life milestones. So while many Black and brown professionals have done everything right, they’re not seeing the fruits of that labor. This makes spaces like CultureCon critical for plugging in with a like-minded business community, gaining access to opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise known, and learning from those who have navigated these treacherous career waters successfully.
“The stakes are so high, given where we are socially, politically, economically. Our country faces enormous challenges. And similar to other moments in history, we need capable leaders to step up and tackle them. And leaders are born when they are confident in their ability to enact change. CultureCon is a necessary safe space for the next generation of leaders, encouraging them to be authentically themselves and awaken to their full potential. What I love the most about CultureCon is that once you show up, the opportunities are endless,” Jones said.
He credits his team for making that happen for people on the talent end and the larger team who makes sure people walk away inspired. It’s a sentiment each of them holds. The internal inspiration starts with each other and builds through the planning stages, programming coordination, and until the day of the event. For the CultureCon team, there’s pride in knowing they are an extension of the community they serve, and when that community descends on CultureCon, the sheer beauty of it all is hard to put into words.
“Being onsite and seeing how attendees interact with the experience we’ve built … and Black people are VOCAL honey. So the collective joy and enthusiasm is palpable and it makes all of the months of planning and hard work so worth it,” Dae said.
As they gear up for another jam-packed CultureCon weekend, the team is hoping that attendees leave with tangible tools that can propel their professional, social, and creative lives.
Each year they strive to make the event bigger and better, with this year’s NYC event featuring speakers like entertainer Teyana Taylor, actor Jharrel Jerome, and one of Hollywood’s youngest producers, Marsai Martin. The event includes immersive experiences from CultureCon partners, a job fair, workshops, and a block party presented in partnership with American Express.
View this post on Instagramadvertisement
Fresh off the success of their June event in Los Angeles, CultureCon NYC is an expanded conference and the last opportunity for attendees to be a part of this amazing community before the close of the year. Bass said she hopes it’s something everyone takes advantage of, knowing firsthand how transformative the experience was for her when she joined as a fellow in 2019. The team’s only advice for attendees is to come with an open mind, prepared for an infinite number of possibilities that could literally change their lives.
“I hope people make new, lasting connections and leave feeling inspired to pursue their goals, knowing they have a community of thousands behind them!,” said Bass.
CultureCon NYC takes place October 7 through October 8. To learn more about the conference and all of the amazing work the team is doing at The Creative Collective NYC, visit www.theccnyc.com.
Photo by CultureCon / Because of Them We Can