In the summer of 1999, entertainment industry veteran Johnnie Walker founded the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music and Entertainment, Inc. (NABFEME). Walker, a 30-year entertainment industry veteran, has held Senior positions at the Island Def Jam Music Group and DreamWorks Records. She spent 15 of her career years at Def Jam Recordings.
Following many music and entertainment business conferences, Johnnie noted that most of these events rarely featured a female perspective or produced content that provided career support for women. Another note was many entertainment companies had few women of color in positions of power. This frustration, coupled with being a woman with aggressive career goals, fueled the concept for NABFEME. It was time to for a change, time to create a vehicle that would work to support and increase the awareness of women in entertainment, raise the profile of women of color in entertainment and provide opportunities for women to network, learn, empower themselves and have access to industry leaders. Once the concept for the organization was formalized and the business and marketing plans were developed, Walker recruited several other women who represented various disciplines within the music and entertainment industry to become a part of the founding board… and NABFEME, the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music and Entertainment was born.
The organization was formed to create a support and empowerment resource base for professional women of color in music and entertainment. Based in New York, the focus of the organization would be economic and career development for its members. The first meetings were held via teleconference and included Toni Bell, Michelle Madison, Gwen Priestly, Vanessa Barryer, Ramona Harrison-Hardy and NABFEME Founder, Johnnie Walker. The original six were visionary women who understood the importance of lending their time, energy and experience to creating an organization that would be dedicated to empowering, mentoring and promoting women of color in entertainment.
The organization was introduced in 2000 with the creation of the NABFEME Shero Hall of Fame, designed to honor leading women in entertainment whose career paths have opened doors for others. Next the NABFEME Mentor Connection was introduced, a program that focused on members looking for mentors, and members willing to lead and serve as mentors. In 2001, NABFEME established the International Women’s Leadership Summit, a 3-day symposium that featured workshops, empowering sessions, gala events and access to entertainment power brokers.
In 2003, NABFEME established the Donna M. Moore Scholarship Fund to provide students with the tools and resources needed to succeed in attaining a higher education and become tomorrow’s productive entertainment leaders. Also in 2003 NABFEME introduced WOMEN WHO JAM! a popular all female national music showcase designed to provide a promotional outlet and gathering place for ground breaking female entertainers. In 2006, NABFEME Prep was born, a voluntary partnership between entertainment industry professionals and the entertainment business community to bring accomplished executives into the classroom at participating learning institutions.
NABFEME has evolved into a first class worldwide organization and has experienced tremendous growth over the years. Today there are satellite NABFEME locations nationwide with over 3500 members and associates. Remaining constant with the organization has been the vision and the values that were conceived at the very first meeting of the women of NABFEME.