Kimberly A. Blackwell
Age: 38, Managing Partner and CEO
PMM Agency, Columbus, Ohio
Kimberly A. Blackwell grew up in a family that rose to prominence through ambition, character and hard work. Her father, J. Kenneth Blackwell, was the first Black state elected official of Ohio. Her mother, Rosa Blackwell, is a retired superintendent of the Cincinnati Public Schools. Despite such public careers, her parents gave their three children a semblance of normalcy, Blackwell says, recalling that her father regularly attended their sporting events. “My parents set high standards when it came to education and service, and we were encouraged to always put our best foot forward,” she says.
Blackwell is the managing partner and chief executive officer of PMM (Progressive Marketing & Management) Agency, an advertising, marketing and communications firm in Columbus, Ohio, that she launched in 1999. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Syracuse University and a master’s in sports business administration from Xavier University in Cincinnati, the same program in which she teaches as an adjunct professor once a week.
Entrepreneurship has been a path of self-discovery and growth for Blackwell. “I’m very passionate about what I do [and I had to learn that in the world of business] — it’s not personal, it’s just business.” As her company grew, she learned to transition from a solo practitioner to managing a team of consultants. “I remain very much engaged, but I’ve learned to trust and empower my people who do an outstanding job,” she says.
She imparts these lessons to her students at Xavier. “It is an engaging and interactive course, and I learn a lot from them as well. With each year, I’m reminded as to why I do it.”
Sport you play best: Golf
Favorite comedian: Martin Lawrence
What artist would you go on tour with: Earth, Wind & Fire
Favorite author: Maya Angelou
Favorite food: Kettle corn popcorn