Honoring Native American Heritage Month – Q and A with Kaitlyn Red Wing
In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we wanted to take this opportunity to spotlight and celebrate one of our stellar employees in New York City – Kaitlyn Red Wing. A descendant of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (Lakota), Red Wing is an assistant account executive on our Media Relations team and graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts in writing and a minor in public relations and advertising in 2018. Kaitlyn joined FleishmanHillard in February 2019 after a successful internship with our firm.
Q: Why is celebrating unique perspectives and diversity important to you? To FleishmanHillard?
A: I believe the sharing and celebrating of perspectives and diversity leads individuals to be more understanding about the world we live in, helping to dispel the many stereotypes that are alive today. No matter where you grow up or how you’re raised, we’re all uniquely human and there’s so much we can learn from one another. FleishmanHillard is a successful global company, and when we work together and understand one another, we’re all better off.
Q: Why is it important to represent diverse and contemporary Native American voices, experiences and perspectives?
A: Native Americans are ultimately a very underrepresented group in America today and have one of the highest unemployment rates among all races and ethnic groups. These statistics alone are why it is important to engage with and represent this community. While Native American history is something that everyone should learn about, there are still millions of Native Americans – many who live in cities – with very powerful and unique stories to share. They can provide a lot of insight into what it means to be Native American today.
Q: How has maintaining your Native American heritage enriched your personal and/or professional life?
A: I didn’t grow up on a reservation; I grew up in a typical midwestern town with very little diversity and I could have ended up a lot different had it not been for my heritage and upbringing. Some of my greatest memories are ones spent with my grandfather, listening to his stories about growing up on the reservation and learning all about the Sioux Native Americans and my heritage. Our family reunions in Nebraska will always be some of my fondest memories. I’m lucky that I was able to grow up where I did but still have the opportunity to learn and experience Native American culture. These experiences, along with doing my best to continue to immerse myself in Native American culture, have made me a better, more empathetic and understanding person.
Q: How does FleishmanHillard allow you to be your authentic self?
A: The company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I), along with the wonderful people I work with allow me to be myself. The D&I and OPEN Pride committees are two that make me feel especially welcomed and seen. I’ve never felt like I had to pretend to be someone I’m not.
Q: What made you decide you wanted to work in communications?
A: I’ve always loved meeting and talking with new people. Every job I’ve had has allowed me to speak with and learn from others; it’s one of the reasons I knew I wanted to work in communications. That, along with my understanding of others, is why I felt PR especially was the route for me.
Q: What would you say is your proudest professional achievement?
A: Honestly, this job is my proudest achievement. I took a chance moving here from Michigan and I’m so glad to say it’s worked out and that I love it here. My experiences at FleishmanHillard are ones I never dreamed I’d be able to have and have helped fuel my aspirations moving forward.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to other members of the Native American community looking to pursue a career in communications?
A: My advice would be to not sell yourself short and be proud of who you are. You have unique perspectives and experiences that are valuable in the workplace – you should promote them.
Q: Who inspires you the most and why?
A: I have many people in my life who inspire me in many ways. But when it comes to my professional life, my grandfather is one of my biggest inspirations. He left the reservation at a young age to find better work and ended up owning multiple businesses. His drive to build a better life and take risks has inspired me over the years to work hard and not be afraid to take risks. I’m thankful I had him in my life to guide me throughout the years both personally and professionally.