Essence, the preeminent lifestyle brand for African-American women, announced today the formation of its newly created Live Events and Experiential department. This organizational realignment will result in the promotion of both Candace Purdie-Montgomery to Executive Director and Jovanca Maitland to Director of this division. It was announced today by Joy Profet, Essence General Manager.

“The merging of the former Special Events and Essence Festival groups will allow us to operate even more efficiently as we position ourselves for more growth,” said Profet. “Both teams have truly become experts in their respective functions, therefore consolidating resources will allow us to better cross-pollinate this talent and scale the live events operation across existing and new franchises.”

In this role, Montgomery will assume day-to-day responsibility for leading the Live Events and Experiential division. She will partner with Profet in the growth and development of the brand as well as the touch points with the brand’s audience. Prior to this, she served as Senior Director, Event Marketing. As a 13-year veteran at Essence, Montgomery is known for her infectious enthusiasm for brand’s audience, and is a proven expert on how to engage the audience through experiential platforms. She has launched noteworthy Essence’s events such as its New York Fashion Week themed-event, Street Style; its Red Carpet franchises Black Women in Hollywood and Black Women in Music; as well as its Best in Black Beauty Carnival, which had a prominent footprint at the brand’s Essence Festival held in New Orleans. Montgomery was also instrumental in producing Black Women in Hollywood as a television special on OWN. Under her leadership, the Special Events department has won industry awards and accolades from Folio, the Luce Award and BizBash.

Maitland is a proven leader with a passion for the brand. Prior to this, she served as Associate Special Events Director, with an incredible 16 years under her belt at Essence. Under her leadership, Essence’s Black Women in Music franchise evolved from a celebrity-themed influencer event to a consumer inclusive experience that is now an official GRAMMY-week program.  She has created many sponsor extensions for Essence’s signature programs such as the Essence Street Style Awards Dinner, AT&T’s Brunch during Black Women in Hollywood, a Colgate exclusive blogger reception held during Best in Black Beauty and more. Maitland will continue to report to Montgomery as she focuses on developing customized sponsor experiential extensions and partnering with the Sales and Marketing division to deliver the brand’s revenue goals.


ESSENCE Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media company dedicated to African-American women, with a brand reach of 21.2 million. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events and online, ECI comprises ESSENCE magazine, the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; the ESSENCE Festival; Black Women in Hollywood and Black Women in Music events; Window on Our Women and Smart Beauty consumer insights series;; and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD).


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