theGrio’s 100: Vanessa Bush, leading Essence into a brave new world

Who is Vanessa Bush?

After spending roughly a decade in the trenches at Essence magazine Vanessa Bush assumed the long-vacant role of editor-in-chief this past summer. Martha Nelson, the editor in chief of Time Inc., which owns the magazine, said, “Vanessa’s more than 10 years of experience as an editorial leader at Essence will ensure continued success for the pre-eminent African-American women’s media brand.” Nelson added that Ms. Bush would “have the full support of Time Inc. to execute on her vision to honor this loyal and cherished audience.”

Why is she on theGrio’s 100?

Taking on such an influential and widely read brand like Essence is no easy task, but Bush hit the ground running with youthful vigor and ingenuity.  TheGrio reported in July that Essence has several revenue streams, ranging from books — such at its most recent, successful picture-driven book about Michelle Obama — to the Essence Festival, which drew 540,000 participants this year.

“We really do think of it in a very holistic way,” Bush said of the Essence empire. “While there is a lot of competition out there, the quality of the various publications is very different. What Essence has been able to bring to the table is that consistent level of authority about black women, as well as a journalistic excellence that we bring to bear that not everyone has the resources to do. I feel very fortunate that we have that. That’s what really sets us apart.”

What’s next for Bush?

“I’m newly engaged and looking forward to all the excitement of not just running the magazine,” Bush told theGrio in July, “and working with the rest of the team on building the brand, but also taking some time to lean back a little, and just enjoy my family and have some fun, because that’s important, too.” In addition to raising her 10-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son, Bush will continue to develop to new ways to engage and inform Essence‘s broad audience which across its various platforms numbers in the millions.