He loves working with nonprofits to create one-of-a-kind websites for their causes. Meet our newest Champion for Good: Good Works, Inc.’s President Grady Avant!
Q: How have you worked with the Ad Council? What campaign(s) have you supported and what was the project you worked on with us?
Grady Avant: I’ve been working with the Ad Council for just over 15 years. I’ve had my hand in almost every Ad Council campaign that’s had an online presence, in some form or another – either design, development, hosting, or maintenance. I’m a big fan of sites, like discovertheforest.org and smokeybear.com, that encourage communing with nature and connecting with one’s self. And of course, the Shelter Pet Adoption campaign, I see it all over Seattle!
Q: Social good ads pull at our heartstrings. What social good ad has made you cry or stand up and cheer?
GA: The I am an American campaign that was released after 9/11. It was one of the most attention-grabbing and heart-string pulling PSAs I’ve seen. It’s a message of unity and acceptance that is as important now as it was then.
Q: How do you or your team integrate social good into your work, or how do you think your brand is making the world a better place?
GA: We started off supporting mostly Fortune 50 and 500 companies, and over time we took on more and more nonprofit projects. They weren’t the most income-generating, but they were the most fulfilling. Now we are almost 100% devoted to working with nonprofit clients. Working in the nonprofit space, especially with the Ad Council comes with great reward. The level of exposure an Ad Council campaign receives means your contribution will be seen and heard.
Q: What was the greatest piece of advice someone gave you, and how did it end up helping you?
GA: I grew up with learning disabilities and I wasn’t doing well in school. The future seemed unknown and at the time I felt like a failure. There wasn’t much support for kids like me with ADHD and dyslexia. Then I went to a college interview at Parsons the New School for Design in New York City. At that point, Tim Gunn was the admissions director and I remember sitting with him while my dad tried to “talk me up.”
Tim said, “Mr. Avant, you don’t need to sell your son to me; I’m here to sell Parsons to him.” It wasn’t advice so much, but an experience that changed the way I valued myself. I ended up going to Parsons and Tim remained my college advisor.
Q: What age would you want to meet up with your former self, and what advice would you give to that younger you?
GA: I would go back to that weird teen period of just being so awkward and uncertain and afraid, and I would just tell myself, “Hey, you know what, life gets better. It’s not as scary as you think and it’s going to be okay.” There’s a lot of pressure on kids, to do better for themselves or their parents, and the expectations can be overwhelming. I can’t imagine what it’s like for kids now!
Q: If you were giving a commencement speech to this year’s college graduates, what would you want them to know?
GA: Keep fighting for good, but also take the time to step back and enjoy the good that exists.
Q: What value(s) of your organization are you most proud of?
GA: The benefit of Good Works being a small organization is that everyone contributes equally. If we can continue to grow with the same openness and sense of contribution, we’ll continue to be successful for a long time to come!
Q: What can we look forward to from your organization this year?
GA: In addition to more websites, and ongoing support for existing campaigns, we are embarking on the development of tools for non-profits to make their lives easier when managing web content and donations.
Q: You’re planning a “Change the World” dinner party and you can invite anyone (living, dead or fictional). Who are three people on your list?
GA: It takes many people contributing at many levels. My grandmother knew that I was different. She was also very different for her time and surroundings – she was so colorful and fun. She was amazingly supportive of me and encouraged me creatively, and I have a feeling she knew I was gay. I would have dinner to thank her for her acceptance and love. I believe that it’s these individual moments of acceptance and love that collectively contribute to changing the world. I would also have to invite my mom because she fostered the same love and support throughout my life. And I would also invite my sister, because if I didn’t she’d be upset that she wasn’t invited – haha – but also so she could get to know our grandmother.
Q: Tell us what you hope to see more of or experience more of in the next year, using only emojis.