Sunshine Sachs Senior VP of Diversity Gabrielle Lee Credit: Contributed

Gabrielle Lee is a senior VP of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility and Multicultural Communications at the powerhouse public relations firm Sunshine Sachs Morgan & Lylis. Lee’s work focuses on the intersection between social justice causes and entertainment. 

“I appreciate that a lot of companies are recognizing this moment and creating teams and divisions that are focusing on connecting brands, organizations with communities of color,” said Lee. “When you do that in an authentic way, you’re really leveling the playing field and bringing opportunity to folks traditionally not seen.” 

The racial reckoning that was the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 inspired companies like Sunshine Sachs to reach out more to clients who are making an impact on culture and society. Lee aims to bridge the gap between generations of activists, musicians, artists, athletes, and influencers with legacy groups, such as NAACP and BET. She also coordinates with nonprofits and city government for major events and issues around civil rights, reproductive rights, and voter suppression. 

Lee, 40, is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is a third generation African American from Louisiana and Mississippi. Her 93-year-old grandfather witnessed the Baton Rouge bus boycott in 1953, which would later inspire Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famed Montgomery bus boycotts in Alabama and eventually the Civil Rights Movement. Her mother, who is currently in her 60s, was a part of the first desegregated elementary classes in her school. Lee credits her deep Southern roots with shaping the person she is today and the work that she does to service Black and brown communities.

“I stand on the shoulders of so many people that risked their lives for me and my family, and I don’t have to read about it in a history book,” said Lee.

She said she initially wanted to be a doctor in high school and even made it into a top notch pre-med school. She decided against it though and made the switch to journalism, pursuing a Communications degree at Southern University. She advanced to editor-in-chief of the Southern Digest while there. 

Lee participated in prestigious internships while in college, including the very first cohort of the coveted New York Times Student Journalism Institute in 2003. “To this day if I start naming names of the people in my class of the people that were in my class you’d be like wait whoa,” said Lee fondly of the program. “I really credit everything to HBCUs. They gave me a solid foundation in journalism.” 

During her time as a staff writer for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Lee opted to make a career switch into the world of public relations and found a home. She hadn’t quite landed in New York City yet but her then-boyfriend, famed MSNBC correspondent Trymaine Lee, took a job at The New York Times. When he proposed, she made the move from The Big Easy to The Big Apple. For the past 15 years, she’s worked her way up to her current senior position at Sunshine Sachs doing what she loves and mobilizing communities. 

Lee continues to live in the city with her husband and 10-year-old daughter, Nola.

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://bit.ly/amnews1

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