Committee for Children Blog

Uplifting Every Voice: Boosting Cultural Representation and Betting on Yourself

This March, Committee for Children is celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day with a series of reflections from our Executive Leadership Team on their career journeys, the women who’ve shaped them along the way, and how they’re working to break biases. This post is from VP of Public Relations and Communications Shauna McBride.

When Fortune magazine released its Fortune 500 list in 2021, in a watershed moment not one but two Black women were included as CEOs of their respective companies. It was a proud moment seeing women, especially Black women, break glass ceilings and occupy business spaces normally dominated by men. But it was bittersweet given the reality of how much work there’s left to do to ensure women and people of color have seats at tables where decisions are being made. While Black people make up roughly 14 percent of the US population, only 7 percent of those who identify as Black are in management positions—and Black women are even more underrepresented.

In the same year, I stepped into a new role as vice president of public relations and communications, the first Black woman at Committee for Children to earn that title. A great deal of my personal and professional journey has been motivated by a passion, drive, and determination to cultivate spaces that represent all the unique and diverse members of our communities. I want to lead in a way that centers the voices, experiences, and narratives of those most marginalized in society. To not just amplify voices, but to empower them. That value was instilled in me by my mother.  

My mother was a force of nature: fierce, fabulous, and five foot two. She was principled, radiated integrity, and was a staunch believer in protecting the peace of others. She put everyone else first, led with compassion, and was a model humanitarian. “Remember who you are, and always bet on yourself,” she would say. She wasn’t just an excellent wife, mother, best friend, and community mentor—in so many intangible ways, she taught me how to be a good human.

My mother has always been the voice in my head that could calm the noise. When I had doubts, she would remind me of my most vivid memory, one that shaped the trajectory of my career. When I was growing up, my father was enlisted in the military, and when I was 7 years old, we lived in Guam. Late one night, a dark storm raged outside, but I was captivated by the light of our television. There on the screen was a Black woman anchoring the news, and I was transfixed, for one significant reason: she looked like me, and that mattered. Something in me recognized that she had the opportunity to impact and influence the way people think, how they see the world, and how they see each other. From that moment, my path was set.

My mother encouraged me to pursue my passion for broadcast journalism, which led to countless hours devouring books and growing my love for storytelling and language. There were times when people praised how articulate or intelligent I was. This was always done in ways that indicated they saw me as an anomaly, and I was cognizant of the bias that lurked underneath their words. There are moments when I still face that bias, when a person’s intent and impact don’t align, when a compliment has marks of condescension or cruelty. As a Black woman there have been many biases to break, but I always think of my mother and what she said all those years ago to my 7-year-old self just learning my place in this world: “Never forget who you are. You’re capable of anything you set your mind to, and you don’t need anyone’s approval to be you.”

As a Black woman in an executive leadership position, if there’s any advice I want to share with the next generation of female leaders, it’s what my mother told me: always bet on yourself and believe in yourself. Live the human experience deeply and be a lifelong learner. Give yourself the grace and space to be both flawed and fabulous. Surround yourself with interesting and diverse people who want to see you grow, win, and thrive. People who challenge you, empower you, and feel empowered by you. We’re on a journey together, and I want to help women gain the seats they deserve. I want to see that a million times over. Most importantly, I want every little girl to feel seen, heard, and represented—whether it’s on a TV screen or in Fortune magazine.