Communications Consultant & Executive Director, ngoma productions & Canadian Independent Recording Artists’ Association (CIRAA), Toronto, ON. Born: Toronto, ON
Through her communications consulting practice, ngoma productions, Aisha Wickham Thomas specializes in corporate communications, project management, marketing strategy, business plan development, copy editing, speechwriting, event planning and grant proposal writing.
In addition to running ngoma productions, she is the Executive Director of the Canadian Independent Recording Artists’ Association (CIRAA), a national not-for-profit association exclusively representing Canadian independent recording artists. Serving over 4,000 members across Canada, CIRAA’s mandate is focused on advocacy, education and member services.
As part of the management team at FLOW 93.5 since its inception in 2001 until 2006, Aisha played key roles in the new media, programming and promotions departments. She was also responsible for the station’s community relations initiatives. From 2004 to 2006, Aisha was Executive Director of the Urban Music Association of Canada (UMAC), a not-for-profit industry organization. In this role, she worked to promote the domestic and international profile of Canadian urban music and organized networking and professional development opportunities for the organization’s members. She also oversaw the nationally-televised Canadian Urban Music Awards.
Formerly an Economic Development Officer for the City of Toronto, Aisha actively worked with public and private sector stakeholders to design and implement strategies that support the advancement of the information technology, telecommunications and new media sectors in Toronto.
As part of the Creative Cities Leadership team, a group of 20 leaders from the arts, cultural and government sectors, Aisha was part of a business development delegation assembled by the provincial and municipal governments from 2004-2006 to advise Toronto on ways to reach its economic potential by engaging the creative industries. She helped to write the final report entitled, Imagine a Toronto.
Aisha currently sits on the Music Industry Advisory Committee for the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), the Board of Directors of the Ryerson University Alumni Association, the Board of Directors of PhemPhat Entertainment Group (producers of Honey Jam, Canada’s longest-funning all-female talent showcase), and the National Advisory Board for the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR).
Education: BA, Radio & TV, Ryerson University (1996).
Favourite quote? The tagline for my business is “creativity…energy…passion”, and I believe that those are also key elements to living life to its fullest.
Given the chance, what would you love to do that you haven’t done yet? Visiting Africa – particularly Egypt (to see the great pyramids), South Africa and Ghana – is definitely a dream of mine that I hope to experience in order to connect to the richness of my history and culture.
Who inspires you? My parents were my first and strongest inspiration. They taught me how to be a loving person with a solid work ethic, a strong pride in my culture, and a commitment to community involvement. Leaders like Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and Harriet Tubman inspire me by being ordinary people who made an extraordinary impact. I am generally inspired by people who are passionate about what they do, and are not afraid to be bold and take risks.
Why do you do what you do? I have always been passionate about music and Black culture, and I am fortunate have a career where I have been able to immerse myself in both. I thoroughly enjoy being able promote the Canadian music scene and to provide educational and business development opportunities for independent artists and entertainment professionals, as well as helping not-for-profit organizations with their capacity-building efforts. I started my business in 2002 and gradually built my way to being fully self-employed by 2007. The main reason I started my business was because I wanted to have more control over my own schedule (especially once starting a family) and the types of projects I worked on.