Polk Professional Series Recap: LIU Alumna Norma Stanley

By: REYNA IWAMOTO / MANAGING EDITOR

Norma Stanley joined the Polk School of Communications for the second installment of the Polk Alumni Series. (Photo: Reyna Iwamoto)

In this semester’s second installment of the Polk Professional Series, “How Do I Become You?” Dr. Antonio Brown spoke with LIU alumna, Norma Stanley about her career and achievements.


The webinar, held on Feb. 17, featured the 1980 LIU graduate, who is the president and CEO of E.E.E. Marketing Group, Inc., which stands for Enlightened, Empowered, and Enriched. This is where Stanley serves as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion/Multicultural Communications Consultant, working with companies who want to connect with the global disabled community.


Aside from her work in public relations and an avid community servant, Stanley is also a freelance journalist, speaker, radio show producer and host, best-selling author, and an independent recording artist and songwriter.


Despite her work in public relations and for the disabled community, Stanley had not always planned to take this route in her career and life.


As a journalism major and the Managing Editor of Seawanhaka at LIU, Stanley said that it was not until graduation that she realized she wanted to become an investigative reporter. Her first internship out of college was with a news service that worked to provide information from a Black perspective.


“It was a great opportunity, but after covering a few murder stories for them it was somthing I realized I just couldn’t do for the rest of my life,” Stanley said.


From there, Stanley spent some time as an entertainment and features reporter, but eventually shifted to the world of advertising and public relations, working her way up the ladder at multiple corporations.


“I was still able to use my love for writing and reporting, but for corporations,” Stanley said.


Moving forward, Stanley’s career became more centered around diversity work, as well as the global disability community — work that was inspired by her becoming a mother to her now 33-year-old daughter Sierra, who was born with cerebral palsy.


“That got me on track for wanting to be a vocal proponent of change for people with disabilities, for that whole community but especially for my daughter,” Stanley said.


Still working in public relations, Stanley was then helping other organizations tell their stories and communicate what they could do to help these communities.


“There's a saying that goes, ‘if you hurt, the best way to erase that hurt is to offer your services to others,’ and so I did what I could with what I had,” Stanley said. “I am thankful for the opportunity to have been able to sow these seeds.”


While incorporating her life experiences into her career in public relations, Stanley has also been active in her surrounding community, serving as the Community Outreach Ministry leader for Salt and Light Truth Center in Decatur, GA, overseeing a ministry for families of children with special needs. In addition, Stanley is also a board member of Abel2 Non Profit, bringing visibility and employment to performing artists who have disabilities.


Among her many accomplishments throughout her life, including being honored by the Public Relations Society of America, and receiving the All Children Are Special, Inc., Champion Award, one recognition that stands out in particular is being awarded the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama for her disability community work.


“It was a beautiful thing and I'm very thankful because not everyone gets that award,” Stanley said.


Stanley is now working on creating an educational course for parents with children of disabilities, where she can share what she has learned in her daughter’s 33 years on Earth.


“At a grassroots level there are many people falling through the cracks and I hope this can fill the gap from them,” Stanley said about her current project.


Looking back at her life and career, Stanley shared a quote by political activist and academic Angela Davis.


“‘I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change, I am changing the things I cannot accept’ — That’s what I had to do for my daughter, that's what I need to do for the individuals and families in the disability population and I'm thankful that in my little corner of the world, I can make a difference,” Stanley said.


As the webinar drew to a close, a Q&A session with the audience gave Stanley the opportunity to offer advice to listeners.


In terms of her community outreach work and approaching networking and entrepreneurship, Stanley encourages students to reach out to non-profit organizations.


“If it's something you're passionate about, I’m sure there is a non-profit that could use your help,” Stanley said. “Stay in touch with these organizations, connect, ask questions, and be professional.”


From a background in journalism, to her experience in public relations, to her extensive work for the disability community, one student asked Stanley the advice she has for students who may feel limited to the field and path that a degree can provide.


To this question, she encouraged students to be creative in diversifying the skills they learn in school, to be open to opportunities that come knocking at the door, and to just “go for it.”


Graduating with a journalism degree, it was not in Stanley’s frame of mind at first, to end up working in public relations.


“I was truly shy and all the presentations and things you have to do in PR — I had to grow into that,” Stanley said. “But I was not afraid to try to grow into that and I didn’t turn it down because it was too big of a situation.”


Stanley continued, advising her audience not to “put things off.”


“If an idea keeps coming back to you over and over again, you're supposed to be doing something with that idea,” Stanley said.


“If you have a dream just do it because tomorrow is not promised…if you can dream it you can do it, and I know this because I am doing some of those things right now.”

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