Guest Blogger for Lightspeed
Executive Director, DisABILITYincites
Tonya is a 25-year veteran in business strategy, global branding, research, design and consumer insights. She was an adjunct professor at the New York Fashion Institute of Technology school of Advertising and Marketing Communications. Tonya is the CEO of Deniz Consulting LLC, a strategic consultancy and executive coaching company that works with marketers, public relations firms, digital, creative and media agencies to create profitable product, message and communication innovations. In 2011 she founded disABILITYincites a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) where she serves as the Executive Director.
DisABILITYincites’ mission is to eradicate the exclusion of people with disabilities (PWD) from the on-going, comprehensive research investigations that are conducted daily in the US to ascertain the unmet needs of the general population and sub-segments. The organization aims to level the playing field for PWD by using research about the segment to inspire creation with representation of people with disabilities in mind.
Throughout a lustrous career that preceded founding both companies, Tonya worked for several multi-national media and marketing companies, including, Leo Burnett, Starcom, Media Planning Group and MediaCom where she held senior-level management positions responsible for brand building and positioning for many Fortune 500 companies.
In addition to being an industry media and market research thought leader, Tonya is a skilled consumer insights practitioner with the ability to observe, extract, analyze and decipher the underpinnings of consumer behavior to uncover sources of real advantage and value creation for any organization. Tonya is skilled in conducting focus groups, depth interviews, ethnographies and workshops to uncover keen insights to fuel strategic development. In 2008, Tonya earned the prestigious Global de Bono Thinking Systems Facilitator Credential, which makes her knowledgeable in how to apply lateral thinking in deriving insights for strategic implementation.
Tonya is a frequent speaker at marketing and communications research conferences and symposia, including the Advertising Research Foundation, American Association of Advertising Agencies and the European Society of Marketing Research. She has received several awards, including the Advertising Research Foundation’s Certificate of Appreciation for Distinguished Leadership and the Advertising Working Mother of the Year Award by Working Mother Magazine and AWNY.
Tonya graduated with honors from Susquehanna University and holds two degrees, one in Communications and another in Spanish. She has three adult children and one grandchild. She has lived in New York and Boston and now resides in Chicago.
People with disabilities have an annual disposable income of more than $220 billion USD - yet the vast majority of market research is not designed to include them. All too often the exclusion of people with disabilities causes companies to seek retrofitted solutions to address access barriers. The tech industry finally is waking up to the realization that there is a need and a growing demand to create apps and other technology-based solutions that go beyond solving boredom and entertainment issues for the masses to offering personalized solutions that eliminate barriers for 57 million consumers with access needs.
Beyond just technology companies, more businesses today are focusing their attention on the creation of new products and services that promote greater access for people with disabilities. From the University of Washington to Apple, Google and Microsoft, a new phenomenon has emerged that goes beyond innovations like speech recognition systems, hearing aids, power wheelchairs and cars that drive themselves, to include other practical and desirable offerings, e.g., accessible packaging designs for commodity products, accessible websites and applications, adaptive yoga classes and adaptive dentistry.