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Problems and creative solutions: Pharrell Williams launches advocacy agency after NSU panel

"Mighty Dream" will be an agency that looks for solutions to problems marginalized communities face. There's a block party coming to Norfolk, too.

NORFOLK, Va. — Virginia Beach native and Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Pharrell Williams announced that he and a team of other industry leaders are launching a first-of-its-kind advocacy agency on Monday. 

First reported by Adweek and confirmed by sources close to Pharrell, "Mighty Dream" will be an agency that looks for solutions to problems that are faced by marginalized communities. 

Norfolk business owners say Mighty Dream will include a block party, focusing on entrepreneurs, in the NEON District this November.

13News Now reached out to Downtown Norfolk council leaders about the possibility of an event in Norfolk involving Pharrell and his team. They sent back the group’s website showing “Mighty Dream” as a multi-day forum from November 1 to November 3.

The website reads: 

"MIGHTY DREAM is an annual gathering of global business leaders advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within their organizations. The multi-day forum of thought leadership, idea exchange, networking, progressive conversation and engaging food & entertainment experiences is designed to broker honest, direct dialogue and relationships that accelerate the progress many are already demonstrating."

There is also a place to sign up for a newsletter to find out when tickets go on sale.

It's an idea that came in the aftermath of Pharrell's "Elephant in the Room" business forum at Norfolk State University last fall, where he met with local city leaders to discuss issues in Hampton Roads and how a road can be paved going forward. 

The forum gave Pharrell a chance to show the financial resources that are available to Hampton Roads to create better businesses. It also gave him a chance to hit on the need for diversity and inclusivity.

It was a feeling of inclusivity that Pharrell had initially hoped to bring to Virginia Beach and the region with his “Something in the Water” festival back in 2019. 

This year, the festival returned after a hiatus due to the pandemic, but was instead held in Washington D.C. 

The move comes after Pharrell expressed his disappointment in the way the city handled the death of his cousin, Donovon Lynch, at the hands of a police officer in March of 2021. 

At his forum in October, Pharrell said he wants to move past the controversy surrounding it, but he needs to see real change.

“If someone asks me what inspires me, I always say, ‘That which is missing.’ It’s the clearest path to being additive to society and finding new solutions for real problems,” Williams said in an interview with Adweek about the new agency. 

He will be the co-chair and founder, and "Mighty Dream" will also be the first of its kind to have an executive board made up entirely of leaders who are persons of color in different creative industries. 

“Mighty Dream aims to create what’s missing: in creativity, in advocacy, in society.”

Lisa Osborne Ross, CEO of Edelman U.S., will be the other co-chair, according to Adweek. 

“It is literally designed to look at the issues that are affecting communities of color—Black people in particular—and what can brands do to address those societal issues,” she said in the Adweek interview.

Click here to access the newly-launched "Mighty Dream" website.

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