Knoxville, Tenn.-based Tombras hired Denice Heyward as the agency’s first svp, director of business affairs.
Heyward will remain based in New York, where Tombras recently opened its newest office last year. She will be responsible for leading and growing the business affairs team for the 350-person agency, advising on all aspects of new business and partnership development, including research, learning and development, external partnerships and key hires.
“As an African-American woman in advertising, through my own experiences and among my industry peers of color, the reality is that we are grossly underpaid, rarely promoted, and when in leadership positions we are often undermined and challenged differently,” Hayward said in a statement. “Tombras’ president, Dooley Tombras, has assured me that the agency and its leadership team are committed to continuing to diversify, improve/change areas that still need growth, and pay disparity and promotion are of no issue at the agency—it was his transparency that prompted me to accept this leadership role.”
Heyward joins Tombras with over 10 years of agency experience after transitioning from a career in music that included a Grammy Award for solo debut, with “You Have Been Right There” on Hezekiah Walker & the LFT Choir’s “Love Is Live” album for “Best Contemporary Gospel Choir or Chorus Album of the Year.”
She began studying the legal side of the industry after experiencing the complexities of music and talent agreements, which spurred her career in business affairs. Most recently, she served a brief stint at R/GA as business affairs lead on DuPont, Instagram, Nike, Samsung and Verizon Wireless. Prior to that, she spent more than two years as partnerships and legal director for 72andSunny, following over a year as associate director, production business affairs for Mekanism.
“Denice is a game-changing hire for Tombras. She has the perfect mix of experience and vision to build the department and help take Tombras and our clients to the next level,” Tombras president Dooley Tombras said in a statement.
“She is going to be a tremendous resource to every department across the agency as well as clients as we do more work with top celebrities and artists, partnerships with influencers, et al., as we push the boundaries on culturally relevant work,” he added. “Most importantly, Denice is an incredible chemistry fit for our agency and heck, I never thought we’d be able to say we’ve hired a Grammy winner.”