March is Women’s History Month – Champion of Faith Yumiko Whitaker
As Women’s History Month concludes, the L.A. Sentinel Religion section celebrates by highlighting Los Angeles-area “Champions of Faith,” which features ordinary people inspired by their faith to make a difference in the community.
Yumiko Whitaker, founder of Hummingbird PR
What is the mission of your profession?
I view my work with clients as divine assignments, and am privileged to work with a mix of businesses, non-profits and public entities to shape positive change. I grew up in the Crenshaw District and attended local schools, including a self-financed earned degree in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University.
Hummingbird PR’s mission is to help organizations build capacity and strengthen their position in the marketplace. The significance of hummingbird as part of the company name imbues my way of working as hummingbirds hover above with a big picture perspective, yet a keen focus on the task at hand. They are small, yet efficient, effective, graceful, swift and humble. I love the challenge of going in, getting the job done, and moving on to the next challenge.
My decades long experience in the public, private and non-profit sector, growing the footprint, revenue, awareness and relevance on behalf of entities such as IKEA, Gap, Inc., American Cancer Society, Nakatomi PR, the State of California and Ocean Park Community Center, has aided me greatly in solving unique problems with a highly disciplined, strategic approach.
What role has God or your faith played in your profession?
My faith has played a very significant role in my profession. I have often been the only person of color and/or the youngest person with a seat at the table or serving in a leadership capacity. I endured numerous trials, and was often given the most challenging, undesirable assignments, which only proved God’s faithfulness, as He continuously opened doors, and made crooked places straight and rough areas smooth.
My work with IKEA involved a lot of solo international travel to Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands and Finland. I was grateful to God for these opportunities, and trusted Him for traveling mercies, wisdom, protection, favor, peace, discernment and positive outcomes.
Another instance where faith was key was with the decision to go out on my own to form Hummingbird PR. This leap of faith has allowed me to truly test my knowledge and skillset. It also allowed me to take a more active role in caring for my elderly mother who recently turned 91 on February 25. By faith, my siblings and I balance the rigors of her daily needs. After seven years, Hummingbird PR continues to thrive, and I continue to trust God for His daily guidance.
What is a memorable experience during your profession?
While serving as a legislative aide to former Senator Diane E. Watson (my first job after graduating college), the L.A. uprising erupted and it was utter chaos. I remember the pervasive sense of unbelief, disappointment, anger, and the eventual boiled over frustrations in response to news of the officers’ acquittals. People were in pain, and it’s been a long road to recovery. I also remember our district office’s swift response as a community hub and salve during this difficult time. What a blessing to be an answer to those in need.
What are you doing or working on now?
I am managing client projects, and also serving as a board member of the Black Public Relations Society of Los Angeles (BPRS-LA). A stealth focus of BPRS-LA is to connect public relations professionals to tangible opportunities within the industry. Our aim is to equip professionals through mentorship, career-building resources, and access to decision makers. We are also working with companies toward a common ground understanding for successful onboarding and retention. We are a great group of solid professionals, and I am excited to play a role in bridging this gap.
How can others get involved in your efforts?
Anyone looking to connect via Hummingbird PR may reach me at [email protected]. As a non-profit, BRPS-LA is open to value-added resources or collaborative support. Learn more at bprsla.org.