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Tesa Aragones receives Adweek and Adcolor’s Beacon Award

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AKQA President, North America Tesa Aragones has been honoured with Adweek and Adcolor’s 2023 Beacon Award, celebrated for driving change to the status quo in the quest for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Adcolor, a non-profit dedicated to the advancement of professionals of colour within creative industries, highlights in its 2022 study the importance of an organisation’s affirming diversity climate, an atmosphere where diversity is valued. Each striving to this end, Tesa and four fellow Beacon Award honourees are recognised for going to work every day with the same mission: to be the change they want to see by rising up while reaching back.

Tesa has more than 25 years of brand leadership experience with Nike, of which she had a 10-year tenure in senior leadership, Volkswagen, Apple, XBOX, Bacardi and Universal Studios, fuelled with a determination to amplify diverse perspectives in the industry. Tesa holds several posts in addition to her responsibilities at AKQA, including as an Advisor, Adjunct Speaker at the Stanford Community College, part of the Stanford Design School designed for and by Brown and Black community members.

In conversation with Adweek, Tesa reflects on learnings from her own lived experiences in shaping her values, practices and work environment: “As a first-generation Filipino from Detroit, I have a unique perspective, and I have developed a strong work ethic, adaptability and resilience. Another essential aspect of my life that significantly influences my leadership approach is the concept of my chosen family. Growing up in the States, we were far from our immediate family, but we were embraced by special individuals who took us in as their own. This profoundly impacted me and how I value the importance of cultivating strong relationships with colleagues, mentors and friends. This understanding underscores the value of community and collaboration in the workplace. A place where you are seen and heard.”

Leaning into a personal mission of inspiring and empowering the next generation to move the world forward, Tesa also said: “Twenty years from now, I see a profound shift toward equal media representation. In this future, diversity and inclusion will be embedded values, reflected in authentic and positive portrayals of people from all backgrounds. We must commit to tangible actions to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the ad industry. This involves diverse hiring practices, transparent reporting and a shift toward meaningful inclusion, where all voices are valued.”