Sheila R. Brown has been hired as the Association of Independent Commercial Producers’ (AICP) first-ever vp, equity and inclusion. Brown will represent the association in all matters related to diversity, equity and inclusion. She will also lead AICP’s equity and inclusion committee and work directly with AICP members to advise on implementation of initiatives, as well as navigate client and agency directives in the space.
Brown joins AICP from the CineCares Division of Cinespace Film Studios, where she was its executive director. There she developed the Mirkopoulos Inclusion Program, a job training initiative that allows young adults from traditionally underserved communities, many with little to no production experience, to obtain paid job training opportunities on network TV shows.
At CineCares, Brown was instrumental in driving the program to impressive success rates, helping to boost diversity in the Illinois production workforce from 14% to 31%. In addition, the program inspired legislation in the State of Illinois to strengthen the film tax credit.
Matt Miller, president and CEO of AICP said the hire of a full-time executive to lead the association’s equity and inclusion initiatives has been in the works for some time.
“When we released a statement after the tragic death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, we took a moment to ask ourselves, ‘Is this for the long run, or are we just making a statement because it seems to be what everyone else is doing?’ While that’s a rhetorical question, it was an important one: our E&I Committee has backed up that commitment with true initiatives and real accomplishments,” Miller noted in a statement. “Sheila’s hire is the next step in that process. She’s a highly experienced professional who’ll be able to take us to new heights.”
Brown says she’s ready for the transition from television to advertising. “For me, it’s time to create change in a new way,” she said in a statement. “The low percentage of minority employment in production and post in advertising means there’s lots of room to maneuver here.”
Brown began her career working for SportsChannel Chicago, a regional sports TV channel as a programming assistant. She quickly rose to production coordinator and then production manager. She was the youngest person ever appointed to the broadcast advisory board for a professional sports league at the NBA. She went on to found Freedom Entertainment, Inc., where she provided broadcast production, event management and marketing/public relations to such clients as the NBA, the NHL, Major League Baseball, TNT, Lifetime, ESPN, The Oprah Winfrey Show, MSNBC, People Magazine, P&G/Gillette and the M.K. and J.B. Pritzker Family Foundation.
Miller will introduce Brown to the industry at AICP Week events in New York on June 7, at which she, along with Mason-Elliott, will moderate several panels on diversity initiatives and progress in advertising production.
“Sheila will not only work to grow our E&I Committee’s initiatives,” Miller said, “but she’ll be able to consult and support our members as they look to develop initiatives within their own companies—and when they’re working with clients to achieve their E&I goals. She will also be a fantastic spokesperson for AICP within wider industry circles.”