International Day of the Girl

24 Girl Grads Who are Making Their Own Way

Featuring 24 Amazing Female Grads – One for Each Hour of International Girl Day.

These 24 women are doing remarkable things. They are paving the way for you. A few years ago only 3% of creative directors were women. Now women make up 29% of the industry’s creative leadership. Learn more about these presidents, pop artists, content creators, toy makers and world changers.

2000 Design grad, Jenny Lam, is Senior Vice President at Oracle.

Jenny has worked at some of the world’s leading tech companies including Microsoft and Amazon where she was design director for devices like the Alexa-powered Echo. She is currently Senior VP at Oracle. When asked what her advice is for young female designers Jenny said, “Your attitude and growth mindset is way more important than talent. Because with the right attitude, your talent will only grow.”

2000 Art Direction grad, Maria Iqbal, Pop Artist

Maria is an Afghan-American who started her career in Miami Ad School’s internship program at TBWA in NY and 180 in Amsterdam. When she graduated she joined DraftFCB and worked on accounts including Altoids, WeightWatchers, Kraft and Boeing.

Eight years ago Maria went out on her own and has become internationally-recognized pop artist. She specializes in customized fashion and furniture. Her creations, influenced by pop culture, irreverent humor and societal trends are commissions by fashion houses, global brands and fashionable individuals.

2006 Design/ Art Direction grad, Marissa Kraxberger, CEO, Producer at MYTHOLOGIE

Marissa has spent her career leading a who’s who of fashion brands including Dian von Furstenberg, Kate Spade, Oscar de la Renta, Ivanka Trump and rag & bone. She has created advertising, look books, fashion show pieces, websites and packaging. She has developed brand strategies, art directed photo shoots, model casting, hair/makeup, photography and retouching.

This year Marissa co-founded MYTHOLOGIE, an independent entertainment production company based in NY and LA. The company focuses on the production of films, original series, commercials, branded content and immersive art.

2002 Copywriting grad, Sabrina Cohen, Advocate for Stem Cell Research

Sabrina knew exactly what she was meant to do when she enrolled at MAS – start a foundation to promote stem cell research. The fact that Sabrina is partially paralyzed didn’t slow her down a bit. After she graduated she started The Sabrina Cohen Foundation and has been interviewed on CNN by Dr. Sanjay Gupta and testified before congress with Michael J. Fox.
Her work is saving lives. A medical trial, that Sabrina helped fund, saved the life of MAS founder, Ron Seichrist, by injecting stem cells into his damaged heart. Sabrina is currently working with the City of Miami Beach to deliver a fully-accessible, beach recreation center that will allow the disabled access to the ocean.

1993 Art Direction grad, Margaret Johnson, Chief Creative Officer at Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Margaret started at GS&P as an art director. Twenty-one years later she is the CCO, the top creative position in the company. She is responsible for everything the agency creates and everyone in the creative department ultimately answers to her. She is extremely good at what she does. Advertising Age named Margaret Executive of the Year in 2018. She has also been recognized as a top creative leader by Forbes, Business Insider and Adweek.

2005 Design grad, Melissa Cornet, Creative Director at Funville

Melissa started her career at American Greetings. Her role creating greeting cards was part graphic design, half hand-lettering, a pinch of illustration, mixed with writing, branding and conceptual strategy. Ready for a new adventure she picked up and moved half-way around the world to Hong-Kong. As the creative director at Funville she and her team of designers and brand managers develop ideas for new toys and brands. Melissa is always creating.

1993 Copywriting grad, Leslie Sims, Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy

Leslie Sims is one of the most powerful women in advertising today. Her work has been recognized from Cannes Lions Creativity Festival to the the Clios, to the Webbys. She was just named one of the two Co-Chief Creative Officers for Ogilvy. Her career is represented across the world from the  successive roles at agencies including McCann and VMLY&R. Leslie’s impact in advertising comes from a simple philosophy her Dad shared with her years before, “More of the two ears, one mouth philosophy.” She ran the 100th anniversary Boston Marathon on a dare and her first recognized piece of creative writing was her ninth grade science fair project which won 3rd place in the state.

2007 Art Direction grad, Jessy Nite, Visual Artist

Jessy was an art director at Sapient, a digital marketing company with offices all over the world, when she started a side hustle in experiential art and design. Now she is a contemporary artist known for her playful, large scale installations. Her work is often text based and interacts with nature. For example letters that are only seen by the shadows they cast on a wall. She has been commissioned by international cities and brands such as Facebook, Nike, Instagram and Redbull.

2003 Art Direction grad, Marjorieth Sanmartin, Executive Creative Director at TBWA

Marjorieth is currently making boss moves as Executive Creative Director TBWA\Germany. What makes her even more impressive is that she climbed high on the career ladder while raising two children and fighting cancer. She was eight months pregnant when she felt a lump. It was clear to her immediately, “If I have to lose my boob, I lose my boob – but I’m here for my children. And that’s why I’m proud of my scar. It shows that I am a survivor, I made it. I feel beautiful because I know who I am. And I think that sensuality is a matter of strength and inner attitude.” She is one gorgeous woman inside and out.

1993 Copywriting grad, Cathy Carlisi, President at BrightHouse

Cathy Carlisi is a true polymath whose interests range from being a thinker, hiker, cyclist, gardener, painter, nationally renown poet, mother, conservationist, and writer. It is no wonder she is leading the purpose-driven directions for BrightHouse as both a managing partner and president of the America’s. Cathy follows her own philosophy in imagining, “Believe that what you do matters. That your role at work makes you part of something bigger, something that positively impacts your organization and the world— Purpose!”

2012 Photography, Mary Beth Koeth, Photographer

Mary Beth is a Miami & NY-based photographer whose editorial stories and portraits brim with humor and happiness. Her calendar, The Secret Lives of Off-Season Santas, is one of her most charming series. She shows us what Santa does during the other 11 months of the year. Another series, which she started while still in school, My Miami Boyfriends, catalogs the guys she encounters in her Miami Beach neighborhood and was the first time of many that she was featured in the Huffington Post.

2006 Design grad, Rhem Galloway, Chief Brand Leader, Todem

Rhem Galloway’s philosophy,“It’s not what you do, or how you do it… it’s why you do it,” reflects a spirit of looking inward first, which has been a force of reason for her success. As designer, she started her career at Miami Ad School @ Portfolio Center and now with 15 plus years of experience, leads her branding firm as one of the south’s hottest emerging firms. She likes to say I started out as a professional doodler- it’s true. Then a designer at Brains On Fire evolving that experience into Todem, where she is the Chief Brand Leader. Rhem is also an adjunct professor in the Furman University+Miami Ad School @ Portfolio Center, Master of Arts in Strategic Design program where she pays it forward awakening students knowledge and creative expression.

2008 Art Direction grad, Jessica Shriftman, Creative Director of Brand, Billie

Jessica wants to put out ideas that make a positive impact. In her project Underheard in New York, four homeless residents of NYC, were given prepaid cell phones and Twitter accounts. The results were remarkable. By being given a voice one homeless man was able to reunite with his daughter for the first time in years. Another received financial support that allowed him to start a small business. After working at some of the hottest agencies in the industry, Droga5, BBH and Wieden & Kennedy, Jessica flipped to the brand side and is leading creative for Billie, the woman’s shave company. She also mentors women getting into the industry. “I encouraged them to look at their gender as a positive asset to the industry––an ace up their sleeves.”

1993 Design grad, Priscilla Duty Ober, Global Creative Packaging Director, Mary Kay

Growing up in Louisiana gave Priscilla her unique perspective, which has been a ribbon running throughout her career. ”My passion inspires great ideas, but it’s my knowledge and understanding and being creative, that brings them to life.” Priscilla has 20 years of experience behind her as a brand strategist and design executive, with stints at Victoria Secret, Siegle+Gale and Frankfurt Balkind. Now as Global Creative Packaging Director at Mary Kay she leads global insights in design for the 3.25 billion dollar company. Her company’s mission is to provide women with an unlimited opportunity for personal and financial success. The pinnacle of success for sales associates is the prize of a pink Cadillac.

1996 Design grad, Nicole Riekki Long, Chief Brand Manager for Chick-fil-A Corporation

Nicole mixes business acumen with a multi-disciplinary set of design skills. Formerly, Global Design Director for The Coca-Cola Company she lead big ideas leveraging the power of design in creating Coke’s competitive advantages. Prior to that she worked for Unboundary where she got her first exposure in traveling the globe and since has been to over 40 countries. Nicole’s overriding philosophy offers us all a wonderful perspective as she imagines,”you’ll never know when you’ll go around a corner and there will be unicorns and rainbows. Literally!” 

2004 Art Direction grad, Anja Duering, Executive Creative Director at Chemistry

And the winner is, Anja Duering! Standing on the stage winning the Gold Pencil and Best of Show award from the One Club for Creativity gala in NY. That was 2004. The beginning of a stellar career for Creative Director, Anja Duering followed by stints at some of the top agencies in the U.S.- Arnold Worldwide, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Wieden & Kennedy, Goodness Mfg., 180 LA, ShootATweet and now as the award-winning creative director at Chemistry, where her talents have brought it the Southeast Agency of the Year honors. Anja has an uncanny sense of wit underlying her strong design sensibilities mixed with being one of the smartest and most inspirational creatives in the industry.

2011 Copywriting grad, Dominique Monet, Associate Creative Director, GSD&M

As a copywriter you never know what you will be asked to do. Recently Dominique wrote the YouTube musical that stared Drew Barrymore singing and dancing in Crocs. She also worked on the Snapchat lens that lets you wear a Crocs shoe on your head. She helps build brands through innovative storytelling, no matter what form that takes.

2000 Design grad, Ally Lack, Founder, Principle 

Ally ran her own one-woman studio where she made quite a name for herself working for museums, educational and cultural institutions like The Walters Art Museum. Meaningful stops at Houston’s, Rigsby Design in Houston, later Rutka Weadock in Baltimore, she served both Fortune 100 clients and tiny boarding schools alike, while honing her now famous skills in typography. She then co-founded and now leads Principle the award-winning studio with clients as the Houston Zoo, Goode Company Restaurants, Hotel Amparo, and The University of Texas. She has juried design shows for CA. Her work has been featured in Communication Arts and the New York Type Directors Club.

2008 Art Direction grad, Tara Lawall, Group Creative Director, Anomaly

Maternity Leave is no vacation. Mother of two, Tara Lawall, knows this first hand. While at 72andSunny she created Mommy Bahama, a hysterical line of clothing for the vacation people think you are going on while on maternity leave. This funny girl also created Pizza Hut Pie Tops. Just press the red logo on the tongue of the GPS enable shoes and your large cheese pizza will be delivered to you wherever you are, even shooting hoops in the park.

2010 Copywriting grad, Erin O’Connor, Writer & Brand Strategist, Principle

Erin studied copywriting & after graduation, she worked for The Richards Group as a writer, for clients including The Home Depot, Fruit of the Loom, Bridgestone Tires and many more. Erin then went on to freelance for a while before working for the Greatest Common Factory. Afterwards, she joined Principle, an award winning branding boutique (founded by another one of our amazing girlgrads) in Houston, Texas.

1996 Art Direction/Design grad, Valisa Tate, Actor & Stuntwoman

Valisa has more than earned the title of of GirlBadass: she is a stuntwoman who has fallen, fought and quite literally exploded on to our screens. While at Portfolio Center, Valisa studied art direction and design. After she graduated, Valisa worked for agencies such as Young & Rubicam, Footsteps Group and BBDO, to name just a few. Most recently though, she has acted in tv shows, including Blue Bloods and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She’s also been in numerous movies such The Sun Is Also A Star and Luke Cage.

2009 Design grad, Leilani Flores, Senior Graphic Designer @ Walt Disney

Being a Walt Disney Imagineer is a dream come true for designer Leilani Flores. 150 disciplines made up some of the smartest most creative people doing some of the most creative work on the planet, combine to create Walt Disney resorts, theme parks, attractions, cruise ships, and new media technology projects traveling to new Disney construction sites around the planet.

2003 Photography grad, Audra Melton, Commercial & Editorial Photographer

Audra studied photography & after graduation she started Audra Melton Photography and has been there for 13 years. She specializes in editorial, corporate & commercial photography and can be often seen in the New York Times.

1996 Art Direction grad, Monica Marulanda, Executive Creative Director @ Alma

Monica Marulanda is at the top of her career. At Alma Advertising, which is named #4 among all advertising agencies, she is the lead creative on key clients such as Sprint, Clorox, McDonald’s, Tobacco Free Florida, Quaker, and Johnnie Walker. She leads the creative teams and creative process through the strategization, ideation, presentation, and execution of all creative projects. A recent project for Angel Bins, Footshake, collects used shoes and distributes them to be reused in underdeveloped countries for a low cost. The goal is to help reduce waste while also making shoes more accessible to those who need them most.

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