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Passion, Patients and Positivity: An interview with Shaneeka James

Shaneeka James

A wise man once said that if you choose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life. While there are no doubt a fair share of snide remarks that could be made to this statement, the majority of us agree with Confucius’ line of thought and people like Shaneeka James, President and CEO of America’s Minority Health Network, Inc. are living proof of its verity.

Shaneeka recognized her passions from a young age. Interested in healthcare disparity, she was selected to join the Kaiser Permanente Health Education Department first as a summer intern and then as a paid employee to help create medical pamphlets, videos and assist with outreach. Her natural aptitude in Communications was solidified with a degree in said field from California State University Fullerton.

Though she did not know it, Shaneeka’s next job would equip her with another skill set valuable to a career in the DOOH space – technological knowhow. “As an Accounts Receivable at IBM, I was fortunate to see progressive development in technology, business and customer service at a young age. Groomed by some of the best in the industry, I matured as a professional and was able to identify what tools clients needed to run their businesses more optimally,” stated Shaneeka.

Entering the digital signage realm was a fortuitous move for Shaneeka, allowing her to combine intrinsic interests and acquired dexterities. “I am drawn to industries and things that are creative, innovative and forward,” said Shaneeka, “and having changed the playing field for so many companies, digital signage fits that bill. I can remember when static signage and TV commercials wasted time and space because they were not relevant to their environments. I now look at digital signage and see a movement in the way that we are using a medium effectively in its space and maximizing the opportunity to deliver impactful messages to receptive audiences. It has truly brightened up our world.”

Shaneeka herself could be referred to as a beam of light in a space that used to be rather bleak. Her decision to join AMHN stemmed from her belief that patients required an alternative to the TV, magazines and silence in the waiting rooms of medical clinics. Instead, she wanted to create a more pertinent and friendly atmosphere by coupling educational information with advertising that could speak to and assist millions of people at once.

“It’s more than just a TV in a doctor’s office because if not, patients might be focused only on how fast commercials elapse,” said Shaneeka. She continued, fervently, “I am both humbled and gratified daily when I receive testimonials from patients and doctors revealing that a five or thirty-five minute wait provoked a potentially life-changing discussion about topics that minorities in underprivileged areas may otherwise have not brought up. If someone were to enter an industry they were passionate about and pump that up by ten – that’s me in healthcare and digital signage. Messages are being delivered where they need to be heard and received by those who need them most.”

Shaneeka has seen very positive results from her initiatives in the DOOH healthcare vertical and applies her resulting optimism to the rest of the industry, saying that just about everything has the potential to be digital. Thanks to the efforts of vendors and associations, conventions and conferences have emerged to provide necessary education about the industry and agencies can view it as a suitable platform for their brands. With AMHN being an advertiser-supported network, this is important to Shaneeka. “We must work together to bring agencies into our world. Unlike fixed print or TV campaigns, digital can be tweaked on end, which is especially important for brands in healthcare,” said Shaneeka.

With a “sky’s the limit” attitude, I asked Shaneeka how newcomers can help grow the industry. She responded that education is key and entrants should be familiar with all digital-place-based components. She also said that joining groups like the Digital Signage Federation, attending conferences and networking are essential. Finally, she added that moving into a young industry comes with the unique opportunity to contribute and make a difference. Newcomers should possess a desire to create change, build awareness and help make the digital signage space increasingly accepted and credible.

“When I try to envision the DOOH industry five years from now, I see it opening doors for many businesses and altering the way we all view education, marketing and the consumer's voice. This is exciting to me and a main reason as to why I have invested in my education and serve on the board of the DSF. I’m learning every day, surrounding myself with great people and am just so passionate. I want to see us all succeed.”

About Shaneeka

Shaneeka has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of America’s Minority Health Network, Inc since permanent staffing in November 2009. Prior to this appointment she had sole responsibility for subscribing the first one-hundred medical office subscribers and supervising the deployment, installation and programming distribution to them.

Shaneeka gained her interest in the healthcare disparity issue when, as a youth, she was selected to join the Kaiser Permanente Health Education Department in her native San Francisco. While serving as a Youth Educator with Kaiser’s research team, she assisted in the production of health education videos along with the creation and distribution of literature on the subject. Shortly thereafter, she was chosen from among thousands of applicants to receive the Bay Area Urban Bankers Liberal Arts Scholarship. She used the scholarship to attend California State University Fullerton where she studied Communications.

Prior to joining America’s Minority Health Network, Shaneeka gained her initial business experience at IBM and Alliance Bank of Arizona followed by a five-year stint as a marketing executive with HYB Entertainment in Phoenix.

As President of America’s Minority Health Networks, Inc. Shaneeka directs the subscription effort, continually building and expanding the network’s educational content distribution in minority medical offices throughout the United States as well as working directly with advertisers and appearing on camera as the company’s spokesperson. She recently became DSCE, DSNE and DSDE certified. She also was elected in 2013 to serve on the Board of Directors for the Digital Signage Federation, where she was appointed as Membership Committee Chair.