Adena J. White is an accredited public relations professional and social-impact storyteller. She has an 11-year-career with the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, serving as its director of communications for nearly a decade and currently as part-time editor of its subsidiary, Conway Publications.
In 2017, Adena founded Blackbelt Media to tell the stories of changemakers working to make the South a better place for all. Blackbelt Media produces the Blackbelt Voices podcast, which tells stories from and about Black folks down South that honor Black history, celebrate Black Southern culture and shape the future of the region.
As a successful woman in leadership, what experiences most shaped your career and philosophy?
From my first public relations internship at a small hospital to my roles at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, I’ve never held a communications position that someone else has had before. These experiences taught me to be resourceful, which has served me well during my transition to entrepreneurship.
What advice do you have for keeping a team focused and motivated in challenging times?
Know your “why.” Reminding ourselves of the purpose behind what we do every day and the impact our work can have on the lives of others will help us not get lost in the daily grind.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Through Blackbelt Voices, my co-hosts and I have had the opportunity to connect with Black folks across the South and share their inspiring stories with people across the globe. In 2020, our show was highlighted by Apple as a "New and Noteworthy" podcast and was included in roundups of must-listen podcasts by Vanity Fair and Oprah Daily.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life and career?
It’s hard to pick one person. I am continuously inspired by courageous, truth-telling visionaries and changemakers who lead with kindness and empathy and passionately pursue equity and justice.
Tell us the most meaningful piece of career or life advice you have received.
The most meaningful life advice I’ve received is also one of my favorite quotes. Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
How do you like to de-stress after a difficult day/week?
I tend to turn inward and spend time alone listening to an audiobook or podcast or even organizing. But I often underestimate how important it is for me to connect with others in these moments, whether that’s chatting with my parents and sisters, spending time with my husband, playing with my 3-year-old or catching up with friends.