Black History Month Employee Feature: Meet Gabrielle Hunter

Throughout the month of February, will be highlighting a handful of different employees across multiple departments in the organization in conjunction with Black History Month. 

Describe what you do with the Charlotte Hornets organization.

“I am the direct support for the Senior VP of Marketing, Entertainment and Media. My role includes overseeing the department’s autographed inventory, managing calendars, conducting research for marketing projects, scheduling meetings and administrative support for not only the SVP, but others within the marketing department.” 

Who or what experience(s) have had the most significant impact on your career?

“Nadia Moffett, who is the former Miss North Carolina USA 2010. She was actually my intern boss when I was at High Point University and also one of my biggest influences. She introduced me to the pageant world and I was also her public relations and marketing intern for The Queens Foundation. Why she’s had such a big impact on my career is nothing sports-related, but she kind of taught me about having thick skin and how hard it is for a female to work in any kind of industry. She taught me the ‘don’t-quit’ attitude, so she’s definitely had the biggest impact on my career.”

“When it comes to what has had a big impact on my career, getting my Master’s Degree in Sports Administration from the University of Miami and entering two pageants. When applying for my Master’s degree, my main objective was to not only further my understanding and appreciation for all sport, but to become more knowledgeable about the business side—two characteristics that would set me apart in any application process.”

“Competing in pageants pushed me outside of my comfort zone, especially having been an athlete my entire life. It was more than just dressing up and interviews, but being a representative for change, taking certain positions on important issues or ideas and defending them—a skill or experience that is important when considering a career in sports. I think I can attribute those things to kind of where I am today. I just don’t quit even if it’s something outside of my comfort zone.” 

What does Black History Month mean to you?

“I think Black History Month means something to everybody, regardless of race or color. Black History Month, to me, is an opportunity for the world to see and appreciate what other people have done in their community and worldwide. It’s not like we shouldn’t appreciate it every day, but Black History Month is sort of center stage.”

“For individuals, I think Black History Month is a time to reflect on what they can do for their community. February shouldn’t be the month where they should just wake up and say, ‘I’m going to be great.’ For me, it’s a time to sit down and self-reflect on what I’ve done, what I can do to make the world better 100 years from now. When I’m no longer here, what did I contribute to this world? That’s what Black History Month means to me.” 

How do you see yourself as a role model in the African-American community?

“Going back to the ‘don’t-quit’ attitude, I was actually in two pageants. I was in the Miss North Carolina pageant and I was also the first Miss Black North Carolina U.S. Ambassador three years ago. One of the things I made sure I got to do while in the pageant because it was outside of my comfort zone – I’ve always been an athlete – was to share my story of bullying and depression going through middle school, high school and even as an adult. How I felt I could be a role model in the African-American community and the community as a whole was being able to share that story and making it okay to share those very uncomfortable situations or times in people’s lives.”

“In the African-American community, it’s stigmatized to talk about mental health. I want the community and the people I interacted with to know that it’s okay to talk about anxiety and depression. My biggest platform when I was Miss Black North Carolina was being able to go to Johnson C. Smith’s Miss Omega Psi Phi Pageant and talk to the girls about it being okay to talk about stuff like this. It’s uncomfortable, but as long as you know you’re bigger than your issue, you can fight it. Being able to tell them it’s okay to share that story. I think that’s kind of where I am and I want to continue that and tell people it’s okay to be black and have depression. It doesn’t not exist. As long as you have a ‘don’t-quit’ attitude, that’s the biggest part.”  

Are there any influential African-American role models in your life?

“My parents, Timothy and Maria Hunter. They have two different personalities. From my dad’s side, he’s always taught me, again, the ‘don’t-quit’ attitude. That’s where I get it from. Always be competitive and never let anybody tell me I can’t do something. When I was in middle school, I actually had a seventh-grade teacher write in my yearbook that I was never going to graduate from college and I was never going to be successful. I kind of made it a mission that I was going to do that and I get that from my dad.”

“From my mom’s side, never let anybody tell you just because you’re a woman or you’re black, that you can’t be somewhere. In college, I was told I would never work for the NBA because of X, Y, Z. It was mainly because I didn’t have a secondary degree. Everybody knows that I’m very bubbly, but at the same time, I can be very driven. My parents have taught me to always be very determined, don’t let anybody tell you no and never stop learning. I am extremely lucky to know that the reason I am who I am started at home with the lessons and values I learned from my parents and family.”