As the newspaper's new VP-ethnic publications and sales, Ms. Medina manages the marketing of five multicultural supplements: Viva New York, Kwanzaa Fest, Caribbeat, AIDS Awareness and BET Weekend, the latter in partnership with cable TV's BET network. Every week, one is tucked inside the Sunday edition of the Daily News.
Ms. Medina is the Daily News' first Latina VP, and she takes great pride in her rise through the ranks from an entry-level position.
OUT OF SPANISH HARLEM
Her path as a prominent New York sales executive has been a circuitous one. She grew up in Spanish Harlem, where she developed a passion for theater, music and fine arts. After the death of both of her parents when she was 21, Ms. Medina worked as a receptionist at a law school and moonlighted as a nightclub singer to pay bills. After several club gigs, she decided to pursue a job in the entertainment industry.
In 1975, she applied for a position at New York's WABC-TV and landed a sales job. She initially failed a typing test but after practicing daily for weeks she passed. She applied similar dogged determination to the new job, and eventually worked her way into programming.
She served on a committee that advised the producers on programming for such morning shows as "Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
In 1984, the year before Capital Cities Communications bought ABC, Ms. Medina felt it was time to move on. After a brief stint as manager of a rock 'n' roll band, she went to the Daily News. She started in classified advertising, and over 12 years climbed the ladder, moving from classified to telemarketing and other sales posts.
Ms. Medina has secured such major ad clients as Heineken USA's Heineken beer, Nestle USA's Libby's canned foods and Federated Department Stores' Macy's, challenging them to redirect their ad campaigns to targeted audiences.
Recently, she was listed among "New York's Top Minority Executives" as selected by Ad Age sibling Crain's New York Business.
Her true reward, she said, is fulfilling a mission.
"We are not ignoring our community," Ms. Medina said. "We're saying, 'you can make it,' and giving [people] more self-esteem."
Daily News Exec VP-Associate Publisher Les Goodstein said Ms. Medina's marketing efforts have enhanced the paper's status among minority and ethnic groups, and improved circulation.
"It's not just a job but a lifestyle for her," he said. "It's her total involvement in every aspect of multicultural marketing to and including the community."
"Debbie leads by example," said Julian Lowen, a former Daily News national ad director, now publisher of Fast Company. "She doesn't just sit at the top of a