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Success on Repeat: Alumni of the Alfred Fleishman Diversity Fellowship Discuss Promotions and How to Get Them

May 29, 2024
By Jessica Millett

“How do I get promoted?” is a question that most people ask themselves at least once throughout their careers. For participants of the Alfred Fleishman Diversity Fellowship, the answer is not far away. The Fellowship Alumni class is a beacon of success, with numerous talented PR and communications leaders from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences flourishing today. They’re at the forefront of client work, spearheading innovative campaigns and consistently making it to the firm’s promotion list year after year. We spoke to some of our recently promoted former Fellows to learn more about their path at FleishmanHillard and the factors that lead to their continued success.

“Do good work and let the work shine.”

How Gracey Wallace connected the right dots.

Beginning her Fellowship in 2020, Gracey Wallace, an account supervisor, has earned three promotions and now helps hire and manage the same Fellowship class she once belonged to. Her journey has been a testament to the power of continuous learning and personal growth. Although she previously studied liberal arts, she now leads campaigns for some of the biggest names in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. From managing patient recruitment and video shoots for one client to creating and broadening awareness of stigmatized conditions for another, her work shines bright.

As a Fellow, she remembers learning a lot and was initially discouraged by the number of edits she received on first drafts.  Still, she persisted. She learned how to take feedback and learn from it without taking it personally. She stayed curious and open – always looking for the broader context that would help her connect the dots. She credits these traits, along with being responsive, communicative and visible, for helping her to stand apart as she earned her first promotion. For her subsequent promotions, she credits relationship building and forming connections with people who are in the rooms she’s not in. “I’ve been collecting a group of people that are my cheerleaders. Communicating what I want and where I want to grow.” 

“See growth as a ramp, rather than a series of steps.”

For Elizabeth Comtois, asking the right questions is a must.

Elizabeth began her Fellowship in 2018 and has since earned four promotions. As a managing supervisor, she balances a variety of clients from the healthcare, technology and consumer goods industries and philanthropic and social impact foundations. In college, Elizabeth was always passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion but worried that she wouldn’t be able to integrate it with her desire to work at a large agency. At FleishmanHillard, she found a way to do both. As a Fellow, she strengthened her ability to lead discussions on vulnerable topics while growing her responsibilities on key accounts. Her first promotion was a “blur,” as she calls it, but some of her memories have stuck. Starting with the system she created to help manage her tasks and communicate with her team. Another core memory she shared was all about the messages she told herself. “I can do this. I can insert my perspective.” These words helped boost her confidence and made her less reactive and more proactive. In time, her team took notice of her contributions, and her first promotion was in the bag.

For promotions two, three and four, she used similar tactics. Each step along the way, she took on more responsibilities and ownership of her work. She asked questions about each project: “What are the client’s business goals? Why does the work matter? And how can I deliver impact for my client?” As she learned to think broadly about her work, her confidence grew, and soon, she began to ask a new set of questions. “Who can I support? What are the team’s skills, and how can I leverage them? What are my strengths and passions, and how can I align my work to meet them? Little by little, question by question, this ramp led her forward.

“Openly voice your goals, opportunities and challenges.”

Ana Hernandez Quiros sends a message with her words — and actions.

Ana joined the Fellowship program in 2020. By 2023, she’d moved into an account supervisor role, her third promotion. She found that what she enjoys most is telling the bigger story and helping the brands she supports live up to it. She’s supported clients across multiple industries and areas of expertise, and today focuses on the public, financial and professional services sectors. Soon after she began, she found a role on the FleishmanHillard Hispania team. As she put her multicultural marketing skills to work, she embraced the opportunity for ownership, partnering with accounts outside of her local office and helping lead client relations even as a Fellow. “My first promotion felt natural because I was already playing a higher role.”

Like Gracey, Ana found the power in letting her work speak for itself and used her voice as well. Ana regularly communicated with her manager and informed her of her progress and challenges. This gave her manager the tools they needed to advocate for her promotion. She shared, “It was less about seeking the role but excelling in the role I was in. I embraced the work to help find opportunities for organic growth and build trust with clients.  Meanwhile, I had ongoing conversations with my manager and account leads about my short and long-term goals.”

Gracey’s, Elizabeth’s and Ana’s stories are powerful, but they represent just 15% of the total number of former Fellows who received a promotion in 2023. We have more of these stories. Their success and the success of the Fellows who follow them is more than an incident—it is a pattern that we want to keep repeating.

The Alfred Fleishman Diversity Fellowship Program is a North America-based internship where talent from diverse backgrounds can combine their PR, Communications and Media talents with their passion for diversity and inclusion. Our teams across the United States and Canada hire, mentor and prepare Fellows for entry-level roles at FleishmanHillard. If you want to start your career with us, you can learn more about openings by visiting our Join Us page.