Dr. Sheena C. Howard

Researcher. Storyteller. Creative Entrepreneur. Award-winning author, producer, and educator located in Philadelphia, PA.

Dr. Sheena C. Howard is an award-winning author, filmmaker and scholar. In 2014 Sheena became the first Black woman to win an Eisner Award for her first book, Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation (2013). The Eisner Awards are considered the ‘Oscars of Comics’. She is also the author of several critically acclaimed books and comics books. In 2017, Sheena published the Encyclopedia of Black Comics, which is the first book of its kind, profiling over 100 Black people in the comics industry. The Encyclopedia of Black Comics was named the 2018 American Library Associations’ Outstanding Reference Source. In 2021, Dr. Howard was the editor of “Why Wakanda Matters: What Black Panther Reveals About Psychology, Identity, and Communication” featuring insightful perspectives on cognitive dissonance, intergenerational trauma and resistance, social identity, collective identity, and cultural and racial identity.

Sheena has twice received a Proclamation from the City of Philadelphia for her literary work, social justice and creative projects. Sheena was born and raised in Southwest Philadelphia. She now has one child, is a Professor at Rider University in the Department of Communication and Journalism. Outside of her full-time job, Sheena spends time writing and speaking to organizations and educational institutions on a variety of topics including social justice, diversity, and representation.

Melissa M. Proctor

Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer of NBA’s Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Arena; Bestselling Author, From Ball Girl to CMO 

Melissa McGhie Proctor is the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Arena. In this role, Proctor oversees the day-to-day operations of the club’s marketing, Hawks Studios creative agency, live experience and production, retail & brand merchandising, corporate social responsibility, brand communications, basketball programs, and entertainment industry relations teams. She also works closely with executive leadership to provide strategy for the organization and was the creator of the award-winning 2020-2021 MLK Nike City Edition uniform strategy. 

Proctor joined the organization in June 2014, when she was named Vice President of Brand Strategy. In her former role, she was responsible for brand development and building marketing & business plans that propelled the organization’s long-term strategy. Throughout her tenure with the Hawks, she has played an instrumental role within the company, spearheading internal corporate employee initiatives and executive communication.  

Beginning her career with the Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., Proctor served in brand development and strategy positions for Turner Entertainment Networks (including TNT, TBS, Turner Classic Movies (TCM), truTV, and Peachtree TV), Cartoon Network, and Turner Media Group. Additionally, she helped to create the first Corporate Social Responsibility division in Turner’s UK office.  Among her accomplishments, she was responsible for managing the naming and identity for the rebranding of Court TV as truTV, and leading corporate culture initiatives to foster employee engagement, collaboration, and innovation. 

Part of the NBA since high school, Proctor was the first “team attendant”/ ball girl for the Miami Heat organization, and in later years, returned to work for the Heat in the basketball operations division. 

Over her career, Proctor’s professional achievements have earned her accolades from a multitude of publications and organizations. She has been recognized with Leaders and Aspire Academy’s Leaders Under 40 Award; earned a mention on Atlanta Magazine’s 2018 list of Women Making a Mark, she was recently selected as part of the Sports Business Journal’s 2020 class of Forty Under 40 and a 2021 ADWEEK Top CMO Award Winner. A published author, Proctor recently released her first book titled From Ball Girl to CMO. 

Proctor is on the board for The HIGH Museum of Art Atlanta, The Children’s Museum of Atlanta, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, and 48 in 48. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Wake Forest University and a master’s degree in design studies/branding from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design at The London Institute. A native of Miami, FL, she now resides in the City of Atlanta.