When Myiah McCullough (’18) took her initial tour at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus, she felt an instant connection. She had stopped in Knoxville after visiting her initial top school pick and experiencing a tour that pushed her to reevaluate the choice. Since she had family and family friends—including Peerless Price and Andy McCullough—who were Volunteers, it made sense to check out UT on her way back home to Ohio. She’s so glad she made that choice.
“Tennessee was always there in the back of my mind, and we stopped for a tour and immediately when we started a tour I was like, this is where I’m supposed to be, I’m home,” she said.
Which makes being placed on the Volunteer 40 Under 40 Class of 2022 list all the sweeter as an affirmation that she did, indeed, make the right choice. Not only did McCullough earn her bachelor’s in Communication Studies from the College of Communication and Information, but she’s also a current graduate student in the Strategic and Digital Communication program at the College.
McCullough rocketed into her career, though the trajectory wasn’t one she expected to take. She started out with a company planning huge events for the likes of Little Wayne and Cardi B, and now she’s the Global Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Condé Nast in New York City.
“I was really in the mindset of building and executing huge events for the rest of my life. It’s funny how things evolve,” she said.
Evolving looked like moving from the events in the music industry, to corporate events and one day looking around a room full of employees and realizing she was one of three black women there. It made her uncomfortable, but it also pushed her to look for a job where she could advocate not only for herself, but for others. All it took was going to coffee with a woman from Condé Nast, who gave her the opportunity to join her team.
“This is Condé Nast, the mecca of fashion, of course I wanted it. It was my way to get in and learn a new sector of the business. I’m a firm believer of, if you’re going to build a team, you need to know what your team is doing on a day-to-day basis,” she said.
What she had envisioned for her future didn’t take long to manifest. She hit the ground running at Condé Nast and joined its Junior Advisory Board in partnership with Estee Lauder, was nominated and sponsored for a reverse mentorship, and became co-chair of the Women’s Network Global Employee Resource Group. She saw a gap in the resource group’s structure and decided to approach Condé Nast’s global chief diversity and inclusion officer about it. After learning about the Global Diversity & Inclusion Manager role,
“It was like a light bulb switch went off—so this is where I’m supposed to be to make the most impact,” McCullough said.
It’s been almost a year since she stepped into her position and it’s been everything she hoped it would be—she engages in strategic planning, manages the Global ERG Leads, and has started new initiatives.
This type of work fulfils that purpose she found while at UT, the one where she can help other people find their place, their purpose. It reignited her Volunteer spirit, which was lit that very first time she was on campus on a tour being led by a UT Ambassador.
As an undergrad, she worked with the UT VolCorps on the Volunteer Team, which focuses primarily on prospective student athletes. It was there that she found a passion for nurturing young talent and connecting people. It was also at UT where she discovered her interest in global work.
“My experience at CCI was so amazing and what really topped it off was I studied abroad in the first iteration of the Dublin program,” she said. “I had already graduated and I studied abroad and I finished my capstone while I was in Ireland, and it just opened my lens to understanding cultural competencies and the global experience. It was phenomenal and I will forever be grateful for CCI because of that connection.”
She said that experience brought her full circle back to CCI. Communication Studies Associate Professor Laura Miller had been a mentor to her, including on the Dublin trip, and then Miller became one of McCullough’s references to get into the CCI online master’s program. And it was Alexis Anderson, manager of the online master’s program, who nominated McCullough for the Volunteer 40 Under 40 Class of 2022.
Everything she experienced while at UT and CCI has informed the work she does at Condé Nast, as well as volunteer work she does outside of the office. Besides working to create a more equitable and diverse culture at Condé Nast, she is also on the junior board for the Lower East Side Girls Club, which mentors young girls and fundraises for their activities.
“Being a Volunteer has carried over, especially in my workplace, in leading with empathy and with a drive to understand what employees really want to do, and helping them…One thing I pride myself on, and will continue to do, is to always bring people along with me. I will always answer the phone, I will always answer the email, because somebody did it for me,” she said.