The advertising industry lost a pioneer and friend on January 1, when Cynthia-Perkins Roberts passed away. Cynthia was VP of diversity marketing and business development at our sister industry trade association, the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB).
I remember Cynthia as being a passionate advocate of multicultural marketing. She established and led the VAB’s strategy and outreach to multicultural markets. CableWorld magazine named Cynthia as one of the Most Influential Minorities in Cable, and she was a member of the Nielsen African-American Television Advisory Council.
ANA fondly remembers Cynthia for her very significant contributions to our annual Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference, where she always provided a dynamic speaker or entertainer from one of VAB’s member companies. That conference has now been in existence for 20 years and Cynthia partnered with ANA for the last 19 events. That is perhaps the longest-tenured partnership in ANA history! Cynthia and VAB were also charter members of ANA’S Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM), a coalition of companies that have come together to elevate multicultural and inclusive marketing in order to promote business growth in an increasingly diverse marketplace.
Sean Cunningham, her colleague at VAB, says, “what made Cynthia so highly effective in marketing and advertising was her ability to thrive in the art of people-immersion. For every one of the multitude of her professional accomplishments (including so many “first-ever” victories), there was always a wonderful back-story of connecting people and personalities to push through to a new high-water mark. Motivating people to break through barriers was always the fuel, and few people I’ve met could fuel a relationship like Cynthia did every time.”
Cynthia’s passion and conviction were the glue that bonded her with others, says Gilbert Dávila, co-president of Dávila Multicultural Insights and a leader of the AIMM initiative. “Cynthia’s strong people skills made her a wonderful bridge builder between industry colleagues,” he says. “Her strong knowledge and insights on diverse segments and media positioned her as an industry educator and trusted source of information to the industry. Cynthia’s leadership was always felt in the room. She could be tough when expressing a point of view (and we are so grateful for that), but she also had a huge heart, a mile long smile and a bear hug that I will dearly miss.”
The advertising industry owes a debt of appreciation to Cynthia for her role in increasing the profile of multicultural marketing and demonstrating its business case. ANA is appreciative of the friendship we’ve had with Cynthia and VAB. Our deepest condolences to her family. Cynthia’s husband accompanied her to the ANA Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference in November, and it was clear that Cynthia was extremely proud of her two daughters.
Cynthia Perkins-Roberts will be missed, but also will be very much remembered.