Kyra is one of those girl bosses you spend hours ogling at their Insta page! You instantly get the vibe “cool girl with the brains to match”. She is a fashionable PR girl with a passion for politics. She is an early career professional who likes getting things done!
Hailing from Southfield, Michigan, Kyra Littlejohn is a Client Executive at Burson-Marsteller with the Public Affairs and Crisis practice. In her day-to-day work, she has a particular focus on the intersection of policy and technology.
Prior to joining Burson-Marsteller, Kyra worked as an Assistant Account Executive with FleishmanHillard, providing support to the company’s technology practice. Additionally, she has held positions with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County, The Michigan Young Democrats, The Century Foundation and the St. Mary’s Center for Terrorism Law.
Outside of her 9-to-5, Kyra serves as Secretary for the Manhattan Young Democrats (MYD), the largest and the oldest young democratic chapter in the country. MYD works to educate and activate young progressives across the city. Additionally, she is the creator of The KLJ Way, an online platform that seeks to empower women to live life by their own rules with a focus on lifestyle, style and fitness..
Kyra graduated from St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, Texas, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in english-communication arts and a minor in political science. She currently resides in Manhattan, New York.
Millennials have many passions! Did you always know you wanted to work in the Public Relations space?
I definitely didn’t know that I always wanted to work in the public relations space. Honestly, until my freshman year of college I didn’t even know what public relations was! I started off as a biology major and was planning to go to medical school to become a radiologist. But, that quickly changed when I sat in my first chemistry class and quickly realized it wasn’t for me. After changing my major to communications, one of my mentors in school helped me explore different career options and PR was an obvious fit for me.
How did you position yourself in college to be where you are now? What are some interests and activities you pursued in school to make this possible?
In college, I was also on the women’s basketball team, so for me it was very key that I made sure to participate in other activities to best position me for life after graduating. I was the photo editor and commentary writer for my school’s newspaper, I interned at the St. Mary’s University Center for Terrorism Law, I was the vice president for the pre-law fraternity and I was on the student technology consultation committee.
In addition to on campus activities, I made sure I used my time during the summer to gain work experience. In the summer of 2014, I lived in New York City for three months while interning at The Century Foundation doing digital media relations. This experience changed my life and was very key in helping with my post-grad success.
What are some of your passions? How do you marry your passion (s) with your career?
You mentioned earlier that millennials have many passions and I couldn’t agree more. I have a lot of passions, and always tell people that you don’t have to put your eggs in one basket. There are many ways to intersect them and sometimes that means creating your own lane.
My passions career wise include politics and technology. I’m fortunate to work in a space where those two things overlap everyday. I’m continually doing research for top tech clients on policy issues that affect the technology landscape now and in the future. Outside of work, my passions included many things such as fitness, fashion, food (the list goes on), but overall helping people is what I strive to do. I want to help individuals, especially women of color, feel empowered to have a voice and walk in their purpose. People have done the same for me, so I want to pay it forward as best as I can.
Did you have a lot of female mentors growing up? Particularly women of color?
No, I didn’t have a lot of female mentors growing up. My mother, grandmother and god mother advised me on a lot (and still do). When I got to college, my mentor, who quickly became my second family, helped me tap into my passions and find ways to merge them. I would say she ultimately helped me discover where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do at the time. Dan Hill of Hill Strategy, a firm based out of Washington DC, has also been a trusted mentor of mine.
I truly believe in mentor-mentee relationships that are natural and genuine. I believe that in order for them to truly work, it can’t be forced. While I haven’t had the opportunity to have a mentor who is a woman of color yet, I’m hopeful that it will happen one day. I do have a few women of color in mind who I would love to have as mentors. I’m just working to make those connections.
“I have a lot of passions, and always tell people that you don’t have to put your eggs in one basket. There are many ways to intersect them and sometimes that means creating your own lane.”
We love how you are keeping millennials involved in politics! Tell us a bit more about your work with the Manhattan Young Democrats.
I originally joined the organization when I moved to New York in 2015 as a way to meet new people. I then joined the board in 2017 as the social media director, and became Secretary a little later in the year. I work with a great group of individuals who are very passionate about helping people and changing the status quo.
Millennials in politics is a huge focus of mine, especially millennials of color. Millennials aren’t brought into the conversation enough, and the older generations can be quick to write us off. We have a voice and we have concerns. Organizations like MYD are a great way for millennials to get civically engaged to help address those concerns. In November, I had the opportunity to sit on a MSNBC panel discussing the future of the Democratic party, which was huge because they made sure to include people from different backgrounds. I say this all of the time, but representation really matters.
In line with our mission, what does an executive woman of color mean to you?
“An executive woman of color for me means staying true to who you are no matter what, remembering where you came from, and not forgetting to reach back for those aspiring to reach where you are.”
I read somewhere that your passion may not be your purpose, and knowing the difference between the two is important. There are times when they may be one in the same, but it isn’t always the case. I truly believe that when you walk in your purpose and speak things into existence, the goals that you never thought were possible can/will happen. You just have to have faith and believe that it can happen for you.