In April, Caesars Entertainment appointed LeMia Jenkins to oversee Diversity & Inclusion for the corporation. LeMia has over eight years of national diversity, political and strategic communications, and government relations experience. She has served various Members of Congress, presidential candidates, and universities as Communications Director and Director of Federal Affairs. LeMia holds a Bachelor’s degree from Tougaloo College, a Master of Public Health from George Washington University and is completing a doctoral degree at the University of Mississippi.
QLife caught up with LeMia to learn more about her and her new role at Caesars Entertainment.
In April, Caesars Entertainment appointed LeMia Jenkins to oversee Diversity & Inclusion for the corporation. LeMia has over eight years of national, diversity, political, strategic communications, and government relations experience. She has served various Members of Congress, presidential candidates, and universities as Communications Director and Director of Federal Affairs. LeMia holds a Bachelor’s degree from Tougaloo College, a Master of Public Health from George Washington University and is completing a doctoral degree at the University of Mississippi. QLife caught up with LeMia to learn more about her and her new role at Caesars Entertainment.
QLife: Welcome to Las Vegas. Tell us a little more about yourself.
LeMia: I’m originally from Jackson, Mississippi. I went to Tougaloo College for my undergraduate degree in PR. I moved to DC in 2010 and began my master's in public health at George Washington University. Simultaneously, the Affordable Care Act was being put together on Capitol Hill, so I was actually in class every day learning about the legislation and the intent. On the other side, I was on the hill every day listening to lobbyists, affinity groups, and others receiving information and having to put that into legislation that would be effective.
About a year later, the Democrats lost the house. My boss was originally the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, so I did a lot of work on special projects with Homeland Security and he had a lot of legislative influence. Needless to say, the switch over to the minority was painful. However, we were implementing ACA and other exciting initiatives to help our constituency. I worked very closely with the southern region to implement ACA in Mississippi and to try and give people as much access to health care as possible.
I finished my master's in 2012 and went to work for Congresswoman Marcia Fudge on Capitol Hill as her Communications Director/Legislative Assistant; there I handled health care legislation and communications for her office. I worked for Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas, and then back to Congressman Thompson's office where I handled healthcare, education, small business, taxes, and Social Security. I was also his communications liaison.
One of my first experiences in his office was the Boston bombing. It was insane. It was my first month in the office and we had this devastating attack. After the attacks, it was weekend after weekend of interviews from New York to DC and all over the country. The Congressman commenting on the bombings and communicating to the American people what the findings were. It was a really intense time for me.
QLife: Wow. Very impressive. So what brought you to Caesars?
LeMia: I'm also getting my doctorate at the University of Mississippi in Higher Education Leadership. Part of my dissertation, and what brings me around to the reason I'm here at Caesars, is about higher education institutions and their partnerships with corporations. What we are doing in those pipelines, what educational programs we are providing and what it what are how are we getting students into a corporate industry.
Most of the work I do here is diversity and external relations, and I’m very passionate about that. I began here in November, coming right off the Hillary Clinton campaign. I was the state communications director for the campaign, so I was able to work with many diverse populations and hear everyone's story. When I started this job I thought, “I don't have any experience in this?” but I realized I do have experience, and that's what makes everyone diverse. You have a different set of experiences than I do and combined we can move in the organization forward with that combined set of experiences. I’m extremely excited about this program that I'm doing with my doctoral degree, but also my position at Caesars allows me follow my passion.
QLife: What does diversity mean to you personally and what does diversity mean to you professionally?
LeMia: I think that they are very similar. The foundational knowledge that I've gotten in my doctoral degree is “equity” versus “equality.” Something can be equal but not necessarily equitable. Here’s an example of this. There's a 5’1” person in a 5’6” person in front of a fence. I could give something that’s five inches tall to each person so they could see over the fence, and that’s equal. What’s equitable would be to make the adjustments for each person. So when I think about diversity I think about equity—how do we engage multiple groups of people? How do we use these shared experiences to move not only an organization forward but also our country and our world? How do we make the world a better place? How do we make the world a more welcoming environment? What am I doing each day to see that mission through, whether it's professionally here at Caesars or personally within the organizations, I volunteer with, the organizations I spend a lot of my time working within the community. Diversity to me is more about equality and equity and making sure that we're doing the best we can here every day.
QLife: Diversity is a very large component of major corporations now. What falls under your world when it comes to diversity?
LeMia: My office manages our internal and external relationships We have six business resource groups. Part of my job is to manage those groups like AIDS Walk. I help manage the EQUAL group who is sponsoring AIDS Walk. I manage the African-American outreach group. February was Black History Month. I helped execute a lot of their activities. Part of my day-to-day life is also helping HR with any of their complaints, figuring out ways that we can make our staff more aware from frontline to corporate and C-level executives, and different training programs they can participate in as well. I help liaison with supplier diversity. The relationships are held within my office but the Supplier Diversity team executes the RFP’s and the vendor selection.
QLife: What about your personal life. Are you single? Any hobbies?
LeMia: I’m in a relationship. My boyfriend is an Assistant US Attorney in Arkansas. We’ve been dating for almost a year, and I am head over heels in love. We try to spend as much time together. We’re very outdoorsy–not outdoorsy like hiking and camping–we love to travel. I love the beach. I love water. I am a classically trained violinist. I’ve been playing the violin for 23 years. I’ve competed in pageants. I love music. I love the ballet. I’m also an arts freak.
QLife: How long have you been in Las Vegas?
LeMia: I've been in Vegas since November 2016.
QLife: What’s your favorite show that you've seen so far.
LeMia: Gosh. I went to see the Nutcracker because I participated with the International Ballet Theatre, so that is probably my personal favorite show. The last show I saw was the Backstreet boys because they're new in town at Planet Hollywood and I died! I literally feel like I could have performed on stage. I had all the moves down. I grew up listening to the Backstreet Boys, so that is probably my favorite experience. I’m going to see Ricky Martin tonight!
QLife: Thank you so much for your time and thank you for your dedication to diversity at Caesars and within our community.
LeMia: Thank you. I just want to let your readers know that when you're working for Caesars or you're engaged in some of our outreach opportunities, at the end of the day we want to make the world a better place, so I'm really happy to be here and hopefully will be successful in helping to extend that message.