Taya Jarman, 39

Communication director, Institute for Public Health Innovations

Taya Jarman was that kid in class who the teacher always thought talked too much. When she got to college and was asked what she wanted to major in, she thought, “communications sounds good,” she says laughing. It was a natural fit.

Jarman grew up from humble beginnings on East 36th street here in Richmond, she says. Her initial motivation was to get out of her environment, to see the world and do more for her children. After studying abroad in China and working for the state for 15 years, her new job allows her to help educate people about healthier lifestyles.

“A lot of our medical terminology and campaigns aren’t geared toward [everyone] so a lot of my work is so me, my peers, and other people will see themselves in the campaigns. We’re digging deep, finding same sex couples, African-American moms breastfeeding, for example.”

Jarman says her own education has been her meal ticket to change. As she has grown and climbed in the communications world, she has continued giving back to her community and mentoring young professionals. “I want to help them because I did not have those mentors or resources when I was growing up,” she says. And she’s imparting these lessons to her two boys. During the pandemic, for example, they donated 49 pounds of food to the Chesterfield food bank.

“As an individual and leader she’s proven that she’s the Swiss Army knife of communications,” says Christina Dick, founder of Tiramisu for Breakfast Agency. “Taya is a known communications resource in the community. She’s served on panels, professional speakers and committees to help various nonprofits and groups.” Among them, Jarman is president-elect for the Public Relations Society of America’s Richmond chapter; she serves as the editor for the Jack and Jill Midlothian chapter; and on the VCU board for the Robertson School of Media and Culture and she serves on the board for Greenwood Excellence.

Jarman credits Senora Bennett, a social worker who has sadly passed, with helping her navigate being a young wife and balancing home and work while still being active in the community. Today, Jarman feels like she’s on a mission, partly because a lot of her peers weren’t fortunate enough to see the success she’s seen.

“I want to show people as a mentor, you can get out of these experiences and these spaces,” she says.


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