Valerie Graves is a leading diversity advocate in the advertising world, and has a storied career in the field. Since beginning her career as a copywriter at Michigan’s D’arcy, MacManus, & Masius Agency, she has been breaking gender and racial barriers since the “Mad Men” age of advertising.
Graves held titles from Copywriter to Chief Creative Officer, Creative Director, Public Speaker, Author, Senior Vice President, and Creative Consultant. She has also joined numerous creative and nonprofit boards, providing input and experiences – all in a white, male-dominated industry.
We are delighted Valerie accepted our request and know her words will be valuable to graduates entering the current climate.
“I could describe my blessings as unimaginable, except for my belief that they came to me precisely because of my imagination,” said Valerie Graves at the opening of her book, Pressure Makes Diamonds: Becoming the Woman I Pretended to Be.
Valerie Graves visits Nashville
Nashville’s American Advertising Federation Chapter invited Valerie Graves to Nashville in 2018. She spoke to members about her experiences detailed in her book and concluded with an insightful Q&A. The event was sponsored by Bohan Advertising and held at Sambuca Restaurant in the Gulch.
Her advertising career started and continued through a time when many women, let alone black women, were not always welcome. We see the advertising and creative industries struggle with diversity, making her a perfect voice of inspiration for our graduates, our students, and our Nossi community.
As a Nossi creative, one of the many perks is our Student Activities Office. Any student who gets involved on campus gets to attend cool and engaging events around town – on Nossi’s budget!
We were able to sponsor two staff members, along with two Nossi student ambassadors (now grads!) Kaitlin Pointer Jones and Gabriella Karademos (pictured below).
Everyone who attended the lunch was provided a copy of her book. If you were patient and waited in line after, you got a chance to meet Valerie and get her signature with a special note inside:
Nossi’s Commencement speaker
Valerie quickly rose to the top of the list of our Commencement Speakers because of the College’s experience in 2018, the message of her powerful book, and the inspiration she can instill in our graduates, especially graduates of color. The speech will be made available after the graduation event.
Designing your Future and how this idea is related to bringing in the expansiveness of one’s self and one’s individual career will be one topic of focus for Valerie. “We can make an impact on the world as designers and storytellers,” Valerie said.
The positive impact creatives have on their community is something Nossi College echoes to students, incorporates into the classroom curriculum, and is encouraged in Nossi All Access – a project-based internship program only offered by Nossi College of Art.
“I have heard that about Nossi – you are very much into engaging with the community and getting students to do projects that give back to the community. Congratulations on that just as an organization,” Valerie said about to Nossi’s work.
The Creative Impact of Valerie Graves
Valerie has worked on the creative teams or was the creative leader for the following organizations and brands:
Awards and Career Highlights in her lifetime (so far!):
“Valerie Graves is a perfect example of a Creative and one that our graduates can aspire to emulate,” said Dr. Byron Edwards, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Nossi College. “Her successful years of experience in advertising are impressive and inspirational. We truly thank her for taking the time to address our 2020 graduates.”