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Michigan State University

Spartan Alumna Ensures Magazines Stay Culturally Relevant

Geneva Thomas

Spartan Alumna Ensures Magazines Stay Culturally Relevant

Pop culture energizes and fascinates Geneva S. Thomas. It sparks her imagination and makes her a leader who shapes the way pop culture is talked about, written about and explored on social media.

Thomas has shaped the digital strategies of such brands as InStyle, Food & Wine, W Magazine and Architectural Digest. In 2020, she was named general manager at Meredith Corporation, the publisher of Entertainment Weekly and People en Espanol.

“It’s a very woman-led company and I’m inspired to work around so many amazing people,” Thomas said. “My goal is to really empower the team I work with, to make sure they feel supported to do the most exciting and culturally influencing work.”

As someone who pivoted early in her career from content creation to digital strategy and management, she is determined to ensure magazines stay culturally relevant.

“(The environment) has become very democratized and we are challenged with the question of what is the value of a media institution,” Thomas said. “We have 20-year-old influencers on TikTok and YouTube. How do we ride that wave and capture the changing of the guard? I want to firmly position these brands on the front line of global culture.”

A graduate of MSU’s College of Arts and Letters, Thomas found her home at the university when she took her first history class.

“It was like being high, truly, as a Black person in America, I saw myself in the work for the first time ever,” Thomas said. “I was like—this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have to be involved in culture.”

To this day, the world-class scholars who were her professors continue to be mentors and friends. She recently answered the call to collaborate with other alumni and Dean Christopher Long to explore issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.

As a student, she led the Black Student Alliance and is now active with the Black Alumni Association, which she points out has created one of the largest endowments of its kind.

“My fondest memories are leading the Alliance,” Thomas said. “That was my earliest leadership experience which prepared me for the work I do now—standing in front of crowds and speaking about an agenda.”

She says not enough people talk about MSU’s study abroad program, another of her major influencers. Much of her coursework was done overseas, taking her from Jamaica to Africa to England and Europe.

“That’s an experience that some other universities are not going to give you,” Thomas said. “You can see the world while also receiving state-of-the-art, Tier 1 research academic training. I graduated with my passport being just overwhelmed with stamps.”

Those experiences continue to inspire her as she pilots the world’s leading media institutions through a radical time in history.

“We want to be that trusted, reliable and ethical source for information—that’s what the value of media institutions are,” Thomas said.


Contributing Writer(s): Bridgette Redman, ’91