Pledge 1%’s #WomenWhoLead series celebrates female leaders who are paving the way for the next generation. While our featured leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and industries, they are united in their efforts to promote equality for all women in the workplace. We’ve asked them to share a bit about their journey to success, as well as lessons they’ve learned along the way.

What is your name and title?

Ebony Vaz, Founder and CEO at Above Promotions.

Briefly (1-2 sentences) describe your current role.

I am the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Above Promotions, a marketing technology and public relations company located in the Tampa, FL area. I am also the author of the book titled, “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation” and a marketing instructor for startup programs as well as marketing professionals.

How did you get here? Please share any quick stories from past work experiences.

My path is different than most. Not many engineers who have been published for password information security and virtual reality pivot into the marketing and public relations arena. I struggled for many years trying to find a way to marry my scientific background with creativity and communications. When I first started, not many in the marketing industry were embracing my technical background. Today it is sought after. I am glad I stayed the course and grew into my current path. I’m not through yet, but I’m satisfied with the direction I’m headed in.

In your opinion, what’s the #1 decision or move you’ve made that has helped advance your career?

Working with Techstars Startup Week Tampa Bay to create and organize the PR/Marketing Track for the past few years. It was great not only being able to help hundreds of small and established businesses over the years, but it also led me to the Techstars Venture Deals course which has started me on my path of working towards becoming an accredited investor. It has also connected me with other organizers and investors from various cities across the world who are also helping to grow their local startup ecosystem.

What advice do you have for women who are just starting their career?

Never be afraid to venture into an area you desire to work in to make a difference. This may mean going down an unchartered path where others will wonder what you’re doing. Don’t conform or bend to others’ ideas of a career for you. By the time they’ll realize your worth, you will be worth more and can get more.

Is there a cause that is particularly close to you? If so, why this cause and how did you get involved?

One of the local causes outside of helping companies grow is to help families become successful. We work closely with Winners’ Resource Center in the Tampa Bay area. They focus on feeding families, providing clothes, furniture, cars, bill payments, and even monetary assistance to families. Outside of helping with these items, they also host training sessions from ESL to budgeting and healthy relationships. Additionally, feeding and clothing the homeless. We recently were able to participate in helping to furnish an apartment for someone who was homeless that regularly volunteered with Winners’. I have been working with its founders for almost two decades and I’m proud of the work they are doing in the community.

When did your company join Pledge 1%? What does your impact program mean to you?

While we have always committed to helping the community, our founder, team members, even interns, participate in some form of giving back. We took the pledge at the end of 2018 and began to roll out our discussions with other entrepreneurs to do the same in 2019.

What do you like to do outside of the office? Any interesting (or unique) habits or interests?

Not many people know, I paint on canvas. I have artwork up in our home, some in pads and in a case. My paintings will range from abstract to places and people. I’m currently working on finishing one on Grogu (Baby Yoda) which is the first character painting I’ve attempted.

Are you reading/listening to anything interesting at the moment? Please share your most recent favorite book or podcast!

The Gentlemen of Crypto daily on YouTube and the Mocha in the Morning Show every Friday on Facebook. I tend to not miss these two shows each week. One feeds my finance tech side and the other is where I get my pop culture information. LOL I like the balance of the two.

What’s been the one (or two!) things that have helped you navigate this past year? Any tips or tricks to dealing with remote work?

We have always been a remote work company. However, remaining focused during things that were in a politically charged environment in the middle of a pandemic, meant having to consider additional tools to keep focus. We generated some playlists for the team with sources like FreeCodeCamp, SomaFM, Endel x Smartbeats and more through Spotify and Pandora. It’s been very helpful for getting deep focus work completed timely and with renewed creativity.