NOTE FROM THE CEO
When I stepped into the role of CEO and owner at talkStrategy, I knew that I had the huge responsibility to foster a brave space coupled with an inclusive agency culture open to all perspectives. I don’t take this responsibility lightly. I am proud of the team we have built, each person bringing their own perspectives to the work, to the enrichment of the agency and to each other as individuals. Beginning this month, we will embark on a year-long journey to learn more about each other, explore new perspectives, and have candid conversations. As communications professionals, our role is to help brands navigate the modern channel ecosystem. We hope this endeavor will introduce new thinking, making us better communicators, better stewards of the ecosystem, and frankly better humans. To ensure we have diverse perspectives, the exploration will be spearheaded by rotating members of our team of talkStrategists. I hope you join us over the next weeks and months, as well as join in the dialogue.
Let's talk: Sylvia Harris
During this Black History Month, we are taking the time to acknowledge and honor Black professionals who have made contributions to the Marketing and Communications industry as a whole, as well as recognizing those who are history in the making. Next, we’re highlighting Sylvia Harris’ legacy as an advocate and designer for the public good.
Sylvia Harris, strategist, graphic designer and educator
Sylvia Harris (1953-2011) was renowned for her steadfast commitment to helping others. Growing up in Richmond, VA, Harris personally witnessed the desegregation movements of the 1960s, which inspired her interest in social systems and their impact. She earned a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University before relocating to Boston, where she collaborated with diverse creative professionals. It was while working with WGBH and Chris Pullman that Harris discovered the breadth and depth of the design field, prompting her mentor to encourage her enrollment in Yale’s Masters in Graphic Design program.
After graduating in 1980, Harris co-founded Two Twelve Associates with two of her classmates, where she honed her abilities to create large-scale public information systems. Her work with Citibank established an early precedent for human-centered automated customer service. In 1994, Harris left Two Twelve to establish Sylvia Harris LLC, focusing more on design planning and strategies. She guided some of the largest public institutions, hospitals, and universities with systems planning, and as creative director for the US Census Bureau’s Census 2000, Harris’ rebranding efforts encouraged previously under-represented citizens to participate.
Harris passed away unexpectedly at the age of 57, but her contributions to the design field and beyond earned her the posthumous AIGA medal in 2014. She will be remembered for her significant impact, unwavering dedication, and ability to use her research and expertise to make a difference.
Sylvia is also the first posthumous Fellow recognized by the Society for Experiential Graphic Design.
Thank you for taking to the time to learn more with us about the impact of Black professionals in the field. Stay tuned throughout the coming months for more moments of reflection and homage. Follow for more talkStrategy storytelling at @wetalkstrategy.