New York-based multimedia organization OkayMedia — whose mission is dedicated to elevating Black culture and amplifying Black voices — has tapped former CNN International anchor Isha Sesay as its first-ever female CEO.
According to Variety, Sesay will oversee the company’s digital publications, Okayplayer — the progressive music site founded by The Roots member Questlove — and OkayAfrica — the website dedicated to all things African culture, music, and politics.
She will also serve on OkayMedia’s board of directors, alongside Sam Hendel — co-founder of Dataminr — and Shawn Gee — president of Live Nation Urban and manager of The Roots.
Additionally, she has also been named co-founder and CEO of OkayMedia’s latest production arm, SPKN/WRD, which aims to bring “fresh perspectives to the forefront, across feature films, documentaries, television, podcasting, and publishing,” according to the company.
Some personal news…
👏🏾 Former CNN journalist @IshaSesay joins OkayMedia as new CEO. https://t.co/RNZQGLKFUr pic.twitter.com/Ekft8MlhuI
— OkayAfrica (@OkayAfrica) March 30, 2021
Within her new role at OkayMedia, Sesay will work closely with a senior leadership team that includes staff members Rachel Hislop, Teneille Craig, Scean Ellis, Armelle Crump and Mariama Todd.
“I’m so thrilled to be joining the OkayMedia family,” Sesay told Deadline. “This is an exciting company that has long done great work that I have admired. I can’t wait to bring to life all my ideas to expand our content offerings and ways to expose this fantastic brand to even more people in Africa and beyond.”
In regards to her new appointment, OkayMedia chairman and board member Hendel added, “We’re thrilled to welcome Isha Sesay as the new CEO of OkayMedia. Isha’s leadership throughout her career in shining a light on the most critical and under-reported stories from across the globe – from the pandemic outbreak in Africa to her work as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador combatting the ongoing violence against women and girls – perfectly aligns with our mission to tell stories that move a global culture forward.”
Prior to OkayMedia, Sesay spent 13 years in the CNN newsroom where she led a team of journalists reporting on coverage such as the 2014 kidnapping of 200+ schoolgirls in northeastern Nigeria, which earned her the Gracie Award for Outstanding Anchor, Forbes reports. She also received a Peabody Award for excellence in reporting, as a member of the network’s team.
According to Deadline, Sesay is also the founder and president of W.E. (Women Everywhere) Can Lead — a non-profit organization in Sierra Leone committed to empowering young girls who will become Africa’s next generation of dynamic leaders.
She previously published her book, “Beneath the Tamarind Tree,” in 2018 as the first definitive account of the mass abduction of those Nigerian schoolgirls.
Sesay will be replacing previous CEO, Abiola Oke, who resigned mid-last year following news of several allegations such as inappropriate behavior and cultivating a toxic work environment from Black women who worked across Okayplayer and OkayAfrica.