What I Wear to DC’s Biggest Networking Event for Professionals of Color

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What I Wear to DC’s Biggest Networking Event for Professionals of Color

Home / INFLUENCERS / What I Wear to DC’s Biggest Networking Event for Professionals of Color
Meet Mark Banks, Public relations specialist extraordinaire.
"ALC is a collaborative effort that requires all hands on deck, immense coordination, and the temperament of a saint."
-Marc Banks

As the CBCF‘s Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) quickly approaches, we wanted to take a closer look at how the youngest conference hosts handle the insanity and make the most of their all-access experience. The beloved conference– widely referred to as CBC weekend– brings together politicos of color from around the globe, as well as the group of African-American Members of Congress known as the Congressional Black Caucus. We’ve already covered how the most seasoned and influential guests do CBC weekend. Here, CBCF’s public relations specialist shares his POV.  

Hired immediately after a communications internship with the CBCF, 26-year-old Marc Banks is right on schedule for his quintessential DC career ascension. 

He’s been the brand manager for a media company, served as a press intern for a U.S. Senator, and runs his own burgeoning PR agency– Bankable PR. With a rap sheet like that, no wonder he’s able to juggle the demands of one of the biggest gatherings in Washington.

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On the insanity of planning ALC

“The office goes into overdrive when ALC planning starts. As a small nonprofit with a relatively big name, we are tasked with a lot throughout the year, adding ALC to that equation doubles our work tremendously. ALC is a collaborative effort that requires all hands on deck, immense coordination, and the temperament of a saint.”

“Planning a conference for 10,000+ attendees from all parts of the world is no easy task. I like to classify what happens before and during the conference as a marathon. Meetings, site visits, briefings, walkthroughs, late nights, and certainly early mornings is all part of the process that makes the magic of ALC happen. It is really quite remarkable to see it all come together.”

On the bigger meaning of ALC

“For me, the Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) is a great opportunity for people to convene and discuss issues affecting the African-American community and the diaspora as a whole. No matter the policy area, it’s likely you will find a forum at ALC to discuss your view points, and solutions to current issues.”

“For attendees, ALC can be a place to network and connect with solution-oriented individuals who want to have meaningful conversations about the trajectory of public policy, the economy, socioeconomic matters, and more.”

On his can’t miss ALC Events

“I actually have three favorite events, and of course they’re the three biggest events during ALC. The Black Party, the Prayer Breakfast, and the grand finale, the Phoenix Awards Dinner.”

“I’ve been fortunate enough to attend ALC for a couple of years now. Twice as a guest, and once working for the CBCF. I can say that something unexpected always happens.”

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On what he’s wearing to ALC

“Most people are in business attire for the 70+ forums the CBCF hosts throughout the 5-day conference. As the day turns into night, people tend to change into an after-5 look for the receptions.”

“You’ll find me in an Indochino suit for most of the week. Because my day can go from formal to casual, having a verstable pair of Cole Haan shoes is a must. I have a closet full of Cole Haan’s that go with anything and everything.”

“By the end of the conference, I’ve ditched the tie, and taken a more business casual approach. My favorite accessory, which I can dress up or down, is my David Yurman bracelet. It’s a solid piece of men’s jewelry that can do no wrong.”

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On his 9-to-5 at the CBCF

“My day to day varies. On any given day, I could be accompanying CBCF interns to top-tier organization in DC, trekking the halls of Congress, managing a CBCF photo shoot, or in the office monitoring online chatter and strategizing a plan to reach our target audience.”

“The work at CBCF is exciting, challenging, and rewarding. I’m fortunate to work for an organization where I  get to be an advocate for programs and opportunities that directly benefit the African-American community. I’m also able to change the narrative often associated with young African-American women and men across this country.”

On what the future holds

“From time to time I get to work on cool side projects through my startup public relations firm. Right now, I just do it every now and then because it’s a lot of work. But I’d like to build a team and expand it more.”

“I love building brands, cultivating relationships, and growing my client’s influence with stakeholders. PR allows me to do all of that, and more. One day I’d love to work with the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Darren Sproles, Rep. Marcia Fudge, The United Nations, and Barack Obama– post presidency.”

The CBCF is currently hiring. Interested? Apply here.
Photography by Leah Beilhart

about the author

Ursula Lauriston
Ursula Lauriston
Ursula Lauriston is the Editor-in-Chief of CAPITOL STANDARD Magazine-- DC's fastest growing niche brand and lifestyle publication. A dynamic speaker and syndicated columnist, she has been featured in HuffPost, Black Enterprise, The Vault, and more. Find Ursula on Twitter @Urdiggy.