PHILADELPHIA (August 4, 2011)-This week I am in the City of Brotherly Love for the huge National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention and Career Fair.

This will be my second NABJ convention and the 36th edition of the gathering, which attracts reporters, media specialists, public affairs officers and representatives from a variety of industries associated with the media.

At my first convention a couple of years ago in Tampa, Fla., Clayton Sizemore, CNN’s operations manager and a longtime “NABJer,” showed me the lay of the land-not just during the convention, but around and about the beautiful west coast of Florida.

I was thoroughly impressed with the convention, especially the cutting edge workshops designed for both journalists and public relations professionals, and left Tampa convinced it was perhaps the most productive convention I had ever attended.

The networking experience was exhilarating-interacting with then-New York City Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, NBC media and diversity veteran Paul Madison and Barbadian-American journalist Gwen Ifill of PBS’ “NewsHour.”

As a Caribbean media operative, I could not believe such a huge communications organization, with some 3,300 members, was not prominently on the radar of Caribbean tourism interests. Apart from the Dutch territory of Curacao, which had a presence at one of the formal dinners, I espied the presence of no government tourist boards.

I made it my mission to connect NABJ with the Caribbean, and the following year it was an honor to host some of the organization’s top brass at the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) in Kingston, Jamaica.

This year, the linkages continue in Philadelphia as the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism forges a visionary communications alliance with NABJ.

“We are committed to working with media organizations across all segments, and are particularly delighted to join hands with African-American and Caribbean journalists in the United States in a new and exciting partnership,” said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, commissioner of tourism for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

During the convention, the Department of Tourism will sponsor a special Founders’ Reception at the African-American Museum, where the 44 men and women who gathered to form NABJ at a historic meeting on Dec. 12, 1975, in Washington, D.C., will be honored.

NABJ Vice President-Print Deirdre M. Childress, who represented NABJ in Jamaica, described the Virgin Islands alliance as a “key partnership in our strategic goal of reaching out to the Caribbean and the African Diaspora.”

During the meeting in Philly, the details of the U.S. Virgin Islands-NABJ smart partnership will emerge, the results of which will no doubt be reported at NABJ 37, to be held in New Orleans June 20-24, 2012.