If you grew up in South Florida watching the local news, you know Neki Mohan. A former veteran anchor and reporter for WPLG-TV, she was a longtime driving force for diversity and Black women’s empowerment in the news industry.
Born in New York City and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Mohan had a traditional Caribbean upbringing guided by her mother, who was a housekeeper. She cites her mom as one of the driving forces behind her career.
“There were so many more things that were available to me because of her sacrifice,” Mohan said.
Her mother, Shirley, migrated to the United States to find work. When Mohan was 3, her parents divorced, and her mother made the decision to remain and send money to Trinidad and Tobago to support her family – including Mohan, who relocated there to live with her grandparents.
“My grandmother just came and picked me up and took me back to Trinidad,” Mohan said. “I came back and forth from the United States during summers to see my mom. But it was in [the capital of] Port of Spain that I clearly thrived.”
On the island, Mohan’s life consisted of church, school and sports. Her grandfather, Hypolite Sosa, was an athletic man who encouraged her to run 3 miles a day by the time she was 5 or 6.
“We weren’t rich,” Mohan said. “We figured it out every day. I always say my grandmother had a Ph.D. in figuring it out. But on the flip side, we were very loved. We were taken care of.”
During her school years, Mohan participated in many different sports, such as long distance running, and theater. But she fell in love with journalism and storytelling early on.
“My grandfather read the paper every morning,” Mohan said. “So, from a very young age I would sit with him and read.”
She always wondered who the people writing the stories were and what was going on in the world.
Eventually, Mohan went on to study at the University of Maryland, where she wrung every possible benefit from her college experience. She took six classes, and had two jobs and an internship every semester – including a stint on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” A journalism and politics major, she also participated in the college’s newspaper and radio station.
Her first full-time, on-air job was in Jackson, Miss., and that led her to Cleveland as a morning news anchor. She ultimately landed in Miami as a reporter and anchor, roles she enjoyed for two decades. She also was an adjunct professor at Barry University from 2016 to 2018.
Without fail, Mohan emphasized diversity wherever her work and interests took her.
Mohan is also an advocate for female empowerment. She’s been involved with Women of Tomorrow, a mentor and scholarship program serving South Florida, Detroit and Philadelphia, for 20 years. One piece of advice she gives young women of color entering the news industry is to research the market.
“Do not graduate college without an internship,” Mohan said. “You should find out as much about any career as you can before you jump into it.”
Mohan left her job as an anchor at WPLG-TV in 2020; she’s now working to improve community engagement and support multicultural business for Visit Lauderdale, formerly known as the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. Her background as a journalist has helped her in her new role.
“Knowing how to talk to people is going to benefit you in just about every profession you work in,” she said.
But Mohan says the most important part of her legacy is her daughter.
“I want her to build,” Mohan said. “For my family, I want us to be good community servants. I want us to find purpose in the world.”
Gabriela Enamorado is an NBCU fellow at Florida International University.