Fulfilling a promise: Columbus marketing company commits to diversity with newest hires

Jess Deyo
Columbus CEO
Jelani Gibson is a strategy associate with The Shipyard.

In light of the 2020 racial justice protests, Rick Milenthal, CEO of marketing company The Shipyard, created an internship program specifically to find Black talent, and two former interns have just begun working full-time.

Mwesi Stokes and Jelani Gibson, recent graduates of Ohio State University, were both students in the school’s Black Advertising and Strategic Communication Association (BASCA), founded by Osei Appiah, director of OSU’s school of communication.

Mwesi Stokes is associate performance media analyst with The Shipyard.

BASCA is meant to connect Black students to opportunities in the industry, and years ago, Milenthal remembers missing the chance to take an active role in the program. Shortly after the murder of George Floyd, Milenthal gave Appiah a call hoping to start anew.

Quickly, a partnership developed, and the quarterly internship program was created. Toward the end of summer 2020, the first BASCA-recruited interns were chosen: Stokes and Gibson. Brought on during the fall semester, the two ended up staying an additional semester in the spring before being hired.

For Gibson, a strategy associate, the experience eased concerns that come with lack of representation, he says, thanks to highly attentive team members and strong communication.

The internship partnership with BASCA and The Shipyard has already recruited its next two interns, and Milenthal hopes to bring 50 people through the program in the next five years and expand the program to the company’s California branch.

Stokes, the associate performance media analyst, hopes programs like these will inspire change inside and beyond the industry. “I hope this program will show corporate America that we are out here, and we have talent in the Black community and other diverse minority communities.”