Juneteenth Interview Series: Lisa Rothmiller, Media Director
Today we will continue our celebration of Juneteenth with our next entry….
On June 19th, 1865, General Order Number 3 was read to all individuals residing in Galveston, Texas, proclaiming that all slaves in America, including in the state of Texas, were henceforth free. June 19th, or Juneteenth, marks a very specific date where major progress in our country was not only made, but more importantly enforced. The battle for racial equality has and will continue, but since the inception of Juneteenth there have been other major strides and successes among African American individuals or diverse groups.
The following is a quote from Harmelin Media’s president, Mary Meder:
“Last year, amid a summer of unrest and a social justice revolution, we recognized Juneteenth for the first time as a company. This year, we are proud to expand that effort and shine a brighter light on the significance of this date for Black Americans. Over the past several years, the company has made progress in growing staff diversity, introduced DEI training and talked more frankly about issues concerning race and equality. But we acknowledge how much more there is to do to fulfill our company commitment to equity and inclusion. We salute the Black leaders within Harmelin and thank them for sharing a bit of themselves for this series of interviews, and we appreciate the work that members of the Cares and SHADE committees are doing, working together, to highlight Juneteenth.”
To celebrate Juneteenth and diversity in the company we recently interviewed African American leaders at Harmelin. Today we would like to recognize Lisa Rothmiller!
What does Juneteenth mean to you?
It is the official date that slavery ended, although it was 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s a day for celebration, remembrance, honor for those who lived and suffered during the time of slavery, and a reminder for how far we have come as a people.
In your opinion, what is the most important reason for celebrating Juneteenth?
This is a day to remember all that our ancestors had been through, and legal acknowledgement of the freedom from slavery for all African Americans.
How would you like to see society celebrate/observe Juneteenth?
It should be acknowledged as a national holiday.
Do you think it should be a national holiday? If so let us know why.
Absolutely. This is such a pivotal day in history that has impacted nearly 14% of the US population. The struggle that African American people have faced throughout the years with slavery and Jim Crow laws, to the inequities in healthcare, education, job placement, etc., have stayed with us throughout the years. It has negatively shaped our communities and has been an unspoken shadow over each of us as a people in this country for years. It was not until last year, with the untimely death of George Floyd and others like him, that all of the social injustices of the African American community have come to light. Many corporations large and small have finally become aware of this and have decided to take action in becoming more culturally sensitive. Deciding to take a day to commemorate and honor Juneteenth is just one step in a positive direction for the country as a whole.
What has been your greatest success at Harmelin?
One of the successes that I am most proud of during my time at Harmelin Media is my involvement with our Diversity Resource Group. It is an employee-based resource group that focuses on bringing a diverse perspective to the media work that we do, either via personal or professional experience. The goal is to help guide conversations and media plan development, where the target audience may (or should) include a diverse demographic. You’ll be hearing more about this group soon!
Who has inspired you in your life and why?
I draw inspiration from a variety of people who I have personal relationships with, and even those who I may have briefly crossed paths with either personally or professionally. Some of the qualities in a person that inspires me are:
- Resiliency and drive – being able to pivot and adjust in uncomfortable situations, and to not give up, is necessary in order to thrive and succeed in life personally and professionally.
- Optimism – we all go through peaks and valleys in life, but having a positive outlook is essential.
- Faith – being centered in faith is a beautiful quality to embody. Despite any challenge that is thrown our way each day, knowing that there is a higher power that we serve helps to give hope, purpose and humility in this world that we live.
Working with people from different backgrounds or cultures can present unique opportunities for collaboration and creativity. Please describe a time where a project or decision you made was enhanced by including diverse perspectives.
The first time that Harmelin acknowledged diversity in the workspace was in 2019, when we created the Harmelin DRG and the company decided to invest in ongoing company-wide DE&I training. Then with all of the events that led to the social unrest that occurred last summer, the company provided a lot of communication around these issues. We held smaller team discussions on to openly discuss these topics. There was not a specific project or decision that took place, but I believe it opened our eyes as an overall community to various sensitive topics that have been buried for years. It allowed for uncomfortable conversations to be had, where I believe we can and use our differences and learnings from those discussions and trainings to grow as an organization.
In your opinion, how would you like to see your environment grow with diversity in the future?
Professionally, it would be nice to see more diversity in leadership here at Harmelin. It is nice that since I have been at Harmelin (since 2005) that more people of color have joined on the media side.
What is your approach to understanding the perspectives of colleagues from different backgrounds?
I am interested in learning people. I believe it is important to just sit, listen and fellowship with those that we work with daily. We spend the majority of our day with our colleagues, so it’s imperative to build solid relationships with them. That’s not to say it is important to hang out in one’s spare time, but you gain a different perspective of how and why people are who they are when you understand them as a whole person, and not just a coworker.
Positive change is necessary in our society, and we should continue to strive for it. Whether it is within a media marketing company, in our homes, our community, or our city, we must ensure that the fight for equal rights continues. While doing so, it is also important to take time and recognize those that have made such amazing changes and have been so positive in our environment. At Harmelin, we hope to accomplish this for every race and ethnicity, focusing these days on African Americans as Juneteenth approaches.
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