By Gloria Delgadillo
Meet Ivan Juzang
Founder of communications firm that focuses on urban and minority audiences
hile completing his MBA at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and preparing for a career on Wall Street, Founder and President of MEE Productions Ivan Juzang began working on another plan. He started developing a business plan for a communications and marketing research firm.
“Wall Street didn’t have the spirit or values I was interested in,” said Juzang. “I also knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur.”
Juzang focused on developing a business to help urban and lowincome populations living in atrisk environments. The result came in 1990 with MEE (Motivational Educational Entertainment) Productions, Inc., a Philadelphia-based firm that develops communications strategies for reaching and positively influencing urban and minority audiences. The company now has offices in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.
Soon after the company’s beginnings, Juzang found a valuable partner in the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (IDVAAC). This new relationship helped MEE Productions disseminate its research to a broader audience. Juzang’s production company was also able to tape IDVAAC conferences for later use. Soon DVDS will be available via the IDVAAC Web site.
The value of partners
MEE Productions recently partnered with Men Stopping Violence (MSV) of Atlanta, a social change organization working with men who batter. Juzang met MSV through the Institute.
Juzang believes that working with the perpetrators (who are often DV victims as well) is as important as working with the victims. He also points out that it is one thing to have a woman tell a man that violence does not have to be a part of the relationship, but it is quite another to have a man give another man the same message. Involving men in the process has a different impact on those who batter. MSV brings men together to re-examine their notions of manhood and relate to each other in a serious manner.
Research, core of company
All of MEE Productions’ communications campaigns address health and social issues impacting inner-city audiences, and are supported by extensive research. Juzang has moderated hundreds of focus groups and serves as a primary researcher in all of the company’s national studies on health and social issues affecting urban populations.
The company strives to gain an inside perspective directly from those living in the community and facing the issues. Juzang emphasizes the importance of listening to the audience. He also incorporates the voice of young people by having them write some of the company's productions.
MEE Productions has been nationally recognized for its leadership and success in addressing key issues facing inner city audiences. And Juzang was recently acknowledged for his groundbreaking work with a research award from the Institute.
To share the knowledge and insight gained from the research, MEE Productions also publishes a monthly newsletter, The MEEzine: Snapshots of Urban Life. “It is a way that people can have access to the leading-edge research,” says Juzang. He hopes that this newsletter will cause awareness of the issues and that others will use the research to develop their own programs.