Gabrielle N. Simpson is a communication, branding and media expert. She has worked at many of the biggest media giants in the world, including Comcast-NBCUniversal, CBS Corporation and ABC. It was during these years that Simpson was often celebrated as a champion for diversity and inclusion. She is currently serving as the vice president and head of communications for Barnard College, a private women’s liberal arts college in New York City.
As a Black woman, what do you consider your superpower to be?
I am uniquely me and that’s something that no one can take away or refute. I bring my individuality to any room, conversation or role. What I know — knowledge, experiences and expertise — and will learn in the future is second to none and, collectively, that’s my superpower.
What key skill sets or qualities make you unique as a Black female leader?
I strive to be surrounded by the best talent whom I can empower to be great. The better my team is, the better I am. I build teams with the smartest, most dynamic and most ambitious people. I feed off their intelligence and never need to be the smartest in the room, but my presence and leadership are always known.
What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Speak up and be confident, because you’re worthy.
Why is it important for women of color to lead or work in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
Those in leadership positions have the power to hire. That’s instrumental. We can make sure that we are bringing in the most qualified candidates, and that, of course, includes a pool of other Black women. We have the power to change the narrative and the status quo and must do so to the best of our ability.
If you could thank any Black woman history maker for her contributions to society, who would it be and why?
It would be my late grandmother, Bessie Simpson, a Black woman born in 1912, who went on to earn numerous degrees and honors. An accomplished pianist, poet and writer, my grandmother was the kindest and smartest person I have ever met. She loved the Lord and did his work. She died when I was 13, and I never fully expressed how much she empowered and inspired me to be great.
Why is it important for seasoned and experienced Black women to reach back and help younger women of color?
We as Black women need examples of success in order to know that we can make it. We need more of us at the top to open doors for others, mentor, support and hire. I personally am committed to seeing that happen. All Black women in power need to ensure that other qualified Black women remain in talent pools and on our radar.