4A’s Foundation Adds 5 Members to Its Board of Directors

They arrive amid the group's efforts to address diversity and inclusion in industry

Walter Geer III, Vann Graves, Renee Jennings, Ashley McGowen and Sara Porritt are joining 4A's Foundation board of directors. 4A's

Industry organization the 4A’s took a step toward more diverse leadership today with the addition of five new board members to the 4A’s Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the 4A’s, as the organization seeks to address the challenges of helping to create more diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry.

Back in June, the 4A’s entered into a partnership with 600 & Rising, a nonprofit advocacy group for Black ad professionals, which emerged from an open letter signed by over 600 Black ad professionals demanding meaningful action to address systemic racism in the industry.

“The 4A’s has always been committed to supporting our agency members, and now we are doing so in a way that empowers the very people who need our support the most,” 4A’s president and CEO Marla Kaplowitz said in a statement at the time. “There is a lot of work to be done, and we are readily leveraging our platform to continue partnering with agency leaders and with the members of 600 & Rising in making their critical work a reality.”

The 4A’s Foundation said today that Walter Geer III, Vann Graves, Renee Jennings, Ashley McGowan and Sara Porritt are joining the board of directors of the 4A’s Foundation, whose stated mission is to “advocate for and connect diverse talent to the marketing industry.”

Geer is an executive creative director, experience design at VMLY&R, where he creates design solutions within the agency’s health practice and designs brand and customer experiences for clients including Campbell Snacks, Dell Technologies, Pfizer and New Balance.

Graves joined VCU Brandcenter as executive director in June of 2018, shortly after resigning his role as CCO for JWT Atlanta. During the course of his 25 years of experiences across business, creative and executive leadership roles for agencies including BBDO New York and McCann New York, Graves worked with leading global brands such as AT&T, Coca-Cola, GE, Mastercard, M&Ms, Snickers and the U.S. Army.

Jennings is chief financial officer at New York independent agency Joan Creative, where she is responsible for all financial matters related to clients and general account for the agency and Joan Holdings compliance, working in close collaboration with the agency’s founders to oversee Joan Creative. Prior to joining the agency she spent over seven years at Ogilvy as chief financial officer, North America.

McGowan is Facebook’s global lead for business equality, where she is tasked with overseeing business actions that will lead to a more diverse and inclusive industry. Over the course of her career she has worked at a variety of creative agencies, as well as Microsoft and Under Armour.

Porritt serves as senior director, integrated media planning and U.S. diversity and inclusion lead for Omnicom Media Group’s OMD. She also created and hosts Hear Us Roar, a podcast focusing on “inspired conversations with fearless Asian women about how ideas and passions can ignite transformative journeys.”

“The 4A’s Foundation has always been committed to driving diversity, equity and inclusion across the advertising and marketing industry. The appointment of these five incredible leaders will further strengthen our team as we continue to advocate for change and advance our mission of building an industry that is truly as diverse as the populations we serve,” 4A’s evp, talent, equity and inclusion Simon Fenwick said in a statement. “We are thrilled to welcome Walter, Vann, Renee, Sara and Ashley to our Board.”

@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.