Caroline A. Wanga is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ESSENCE, the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to Black women and communities. She also serves as Chief Growth Officer for ESSENCE Ventures, parent company of ESSENCE. For 50 years, ESSENCE has been relentlessly committed to serving its community deeply, whether via critical multi-platform content, digital and virtual offerings, unmatched experiences, cultural convenings and more to inform, empower and inspire its global and multigenerational audience of 30+ million Black women. From ESSENCE magazine, ESSENCE Festival of Culture and the ESSENCE “Black Women In...” franchise to the ESSENCE Global Black Economic Forum, ESSENCE Wellness House and Fashion House, and ESSENCE Entrepreneurship Summit, Caroline leads the brand’s ongoing innovation intended to provide its communities with the platforms, content, and resources they need — when and where they need it.
Caroline joined Essence Ventures, parent company of ESSENCE, as Chief Growth Officer in 2020 from Target Corporation, where she served as Chief Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Officer. She began her Target career in supply chain, serving in a variety of transformational leadership roles, including modernizing Supply Chain, Business Intelligence, Digital and Strategy capabilities. Prior to that, she held several non-profit roles. A self-proclaimed cultural architect with a passion for constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing organizational culture, she champions authenticity and thrives while she inspires in innovative environments. With a background in corporate and community leadership, her career expands over several disciplines and capabilities including youth development, grant-writing, community organizing, supply chain, human resources, culture and media.
Caroline has worked her way up from entry-level positions to the highest of senior leadership roles and is passionate about modeling what she teaches. Her “real-talk” delivery, witty thought leadership and unmitigated perspective on democratizing authenticity as a differentiator for individuals and organizations, make her a highly sought-after keynote speaker, equity strategist, thought leader, and community influencer. She unapologetically believes that who each person is, is non-negotiable and is often quoted saying, “Who you are is who you are. If you cannot be who you are where you are, you change where you are not who you are.”
Among other accolades, Wanga has been named Top Executive in Corporate Diversity by Black Enterprise and recognized by Savoy as one of the Most Powerful Women in Corporate America. She is a member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC), the Talladega College Board of Trustees and the American Airlines Community Council. She previously served on the Intersectionality, Culture, and Diversity Advisory Board for Twitter and as co-chair of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Diversity & Inclusion Initiative. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas College, a Historically Black College/ University (HBCU,) is a Kenyan citizen, and her life’s greatest accomplishment is her daughter, Cadence.