Veteran executives from CNET, MAXIM, Popeyes and ViacomCBS will lead the company into its next chapter of growth and scale.
Group Black, the next-generation media collective and accelerator for Black-owned media properties, announced the addition of four industry veterans to the company’s executive leadership team. Mark Larkin joins Group Black as its Chief Operating Officer & President; Marchelle Wright joins as Chief People Officer; Ryan Robertson joins as Head of Growth; Susan Kilkenny joins the team as Senior Vice President of Partnerships. Together these new members will support Group Black’s mission and expansion as it delivers high-quality, scalable media opportunities to brand partners while bringing true equity to the media industry.
This group of leaders will be instrumental in deepening media relationships, creating investment opportunities for brands and creators alike, and establishing the internal culture of Group Black an important benchmark and personification of the company’s own value set. As Group Black endeavors to flip the traditional media model on its head, its inclusive, people-first methodology will serve as the driving force behind business, partnership and operational decisions.
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“Driving sustainable cultural transformation in the media industry requires innovative and resourceful leaders who can help Group Black realize its fullest potential,” said Travis Montaque, Founder, CEO and Director of Group Black. “Mark, Marchelle, Ryan and Susan bring invaluable experience and depth to our team — across operations, people and partnerships. Most importantly, they each bring personal passion and desire to challenge the status quo.”
These executive hires will lead talent acquisition initiatives, build Group Black’s value-set and support growth through new media, agency and creator partnerships. As Chief Operating Officer & President, Larkin joins Group Black after serving as President of CNET, where he grew the publication into the world’s most trusted technology media brand and vastly outpaced competitors in audience size. In his new role, Larkin will oversee Group Black’s strategy and operations, while working closely with Wright to root cultural equity throughout the organization.
Wright joins Group Black after serving as Senior Vice President of Human Resources at ViacomCBS where she managed the technology team integration between CBS and Viacom, and was responsible for 2,000 global employees. As Group Black’s Chief People Officer, she will focus on establishing equitable hiring and HR practices while building and scaling a culture of diversity and cultural inclusion.
Robertson joins Group Black after most recently serving as the Global Head of Marketing at Popeyes Louisiana Chicken where he pioneered the company’s first Diversity in Marketing scorecard and methodology while also leading Popeyes’ global strategy, creative and positioning, resulting in nine Cannes Lions awards. As Head of Growth at Group Black, Robertson will immediately focus on driving revenue and leveraging his deep marketing and cultural expertise to build out growth opportunities with Group Black’s members and creators.
Kilkenny joins Group Black after serving as MAXIM’s Senior Vice President of Integrated Sales & Marketing where she led a team that increased the brand’s connection to the culture, signed best in class partners, and launched new licensing deals across categories such as sports betting, NFT platforms and more. As Group Black’s Senior Vice President of Partnerships, Kilkenny will forge opportunities and transparent partnerships between Group Black members and brand clients. Kilkenny and Robertson will work jointly to match Group Black’s clients to a rich supply of Black-owned media, content, audiences and technology-driven solutions.
“This is an outstanding group of leaders that have proven successful in driving both revenue and sustainable change throughout their careers,” said Mark Larkin, Group Black’s new Chief Operating Officer & President. “The executive team we’ve assembled is focused on creating a more equitable, inclusive, and innovative media marketplace for Black-owned media and creators alike. I’m excited to work closely with each of them to forge an identity with Group Black that emphasizes diverse ownership and representation, while serving as a model in how to prioritize its people from day one.”
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