Monday, June 16, 2008

R.I.P. To Pioneering Black Media Giant Sis. Pat Tobin...

P.R. Executive Remembered As "An Integral Part Of Our Community"

By BETTY PLEASANT, Contributing Editor
Pat Tobin, who specialized in using her skills to advance Black causes for justice, died Tuesday at 65.

Pat Tobin "the community's bridge over uncertain waters, its Sherpa up the slopes of new opportunities, its Perle Mesta of professional networking" died Tuesday morning in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after battling colon cancer for more than a year. She was 65.

Tobin was the founder of Tobin & Associates, one of the nation's most prominent minority, female-owned public relations firms and, for the past 25 years, was the driving force for the individual and collective advancement of African-American professional aspirations.

She was a founder of the National Black Public Relations Society, was a prime mover of the Black Journalists Association of Southern California, trained women for political and professional leadership positions through her active involvement in the Los Angeles African-American Women's Public Policy Institute and the Los Angeles African-American Women's Political Action Committee.

Tobin had worked in public relations in her beloved hometown of Philadelphia, but the business became her passion after arriving in Los Angeles in 1977 and landing a job with Channel 2, which was then known as KNXT. While there, she organized a successful public relations event for sportscaster Jim Hill, which led to a series of highly welcomed weekly "media nights" meet-and-greet networking events through which she realized the limited opportunities available to Black media professionals. She found her niche.

From there, she left the TV station, founded Tobin & Associates and set about promoting the careers of Black professionals of various fields, of connecting Black businesses to White corporations and organizing massive fundraisers for Black nonprofit organizations and local, national and international causes.

Her client list included director Spike Lee, actor Louis Gossett Jr., attorney Johnnie Cochran, Wells Fargo Bank, and the Los Angeles NAACP. She is particularly noted for her 20-year affiliation with the Toyota Corp. where she spearheaded the company's outreach into minority communities.

Councilwoman Jan Perry was a recent Tobin client for about 18 months, who reflected fondly on the experience. "Pat was an extraordinary woman. Her joy was contagious and she always lit up the room when she entered," Perry said.

State Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas, who worked with Tobin on several issues when she was at KNXT and he was executive director of SCLC, called her a pioneering woman "who had an unwavering concern for justice, and there were very few issues when wrongs were being perpetrated that she didn't summon people she knew and worked for to join her in a campaign or a crusade to right those wrongs."

Former Assemblywoman Gwen Moore, with whom Tobin collaborated, along with Joy Atkinson, in developing female political activists, said that even though she was a successful businesswoman, Tobin "was an integral part of our community, always willing to lend her expertise in public relations to help community-based organizations gain recognition for their work."

Rep. Diane Watson spoke of Tobin's well-known placid demeanor under all circumstances. "I will always remember the kindness of Pat and that big, beautiful smile that graced her face at all times," Watson said.

Jackie Hawthorne, president of LAAAWPAC, echoed those sentiments, adding that she recently sent a text message to Tobin remarking on her positive spirit during her declining health. Hawthorne said, I told her I was amazed by her upbeat spirit and her continued activities during these trying times, and she text messaged me back: "Girl, you can't hit a moving target."

Tobin is survived by her daughter, Lauren; grandson, Aaron Curry; brother, William Randolph and sister, Daisy Tinson, both of Philadelphia, and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Memorial donations may be made to the Pat Tobin Scholarship Fund or Pat Tobin Memorial Fund, 4929 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 245, Los Angeles, 90010.

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