Forbes ‘30-Under-30’ Entrepreneur Amanda Slavin Will Address Brenau Graduates May 1-2
Amanda Slavin, the Las Vegas-based entrepreneur who made this year’s Forbes magazine list of top marketing and advertising professionals who have not yet celebrated their 30th birthdays, will address more than 600 Brenau University graduates at commencement exercises May 1 and 2.
Slavin, 28, who holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Connecticut, is founder and CEO of CatalystCreativ, an organization that develops creative approaches, which it calls “experiences,” to help corporations and institutions tell their brand stories in more impactful ways – particularly to the highly desirable “millennials” market sector. The start-up company received major funding from Downtown Project, the venture-support organization established by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, the online world’s largest online shoe and apparel shop that Amazon acquired in 2009 for $1.2 billion.
Slavin will deliver the commencement address for the 167 Brenau Women’s College graduates who earned undergraduate diplomas during the academic year at a 4:30 p.m. ceremony Friday, May 1, on the front lawn of the historic Brenau campus in Gainesville. On Saturday, May 2, at 9:30 a.m. she will deliver the commencement address for Brenau’s 150 other undergraduates, from nonresidential programs on all Brenau campuses and online, and for the 358 receiving graduate degrees.
“Amanda Slavin is an outstanding speaker to charge all of these graduates to go forth into the world and make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others,” said Brenau President Ed L. Schrader. “She embodies all of the qualities of leadership, persistence, talent and confidence that we at Brenau work to instill in our students.”
Slavin earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the UConn’s Neag School of Education. She wrote her master’s thesis on the impact that the outdoor community has on children’s learning, creating a metrics of engagement. She used this foundation of understanding in her approach to grassroots marketing and business development.
She began her career in 2009 with Paige Management Group, which operates some of New York’s most popular restaurants and entertainment venues, where she built the organization’s events, marketing, social media and online marketing departments practice. In 2010 she co-founded and launched the Charity Connector event series, a social networking program that Paige Management initiated with about 200 nonprofits to encourage more individuals to support their fundraising efforts. As an organizer for TEDx Big Apple, she secured all of the in-kind sponsors for the event and also supported production and curation of the program.
Slavin met Hsieh at a conference and, in 2012, after months of discussions, she set up shop with CatalystCreativ at 150 Las Vegas Boulevard North in Hsieh’s Downtown Project complex. The Downtown Project is the $350 million effort he announced he was funding to revitalize downtown Las Vegas, the economically depressed part of the city seven miles north of the Las Vegas Strip.
The firm works with clients to help them “design their community,” which means mapping out everything that affects and influences the client’s brand: products and services, customers and vendors, physical location, locations and corporate citizenship and philanthropy. According to Forbes, “this includes brand consulting, engaging the right thought leaders to further their [clients’] strategic goals, developing educational content, training selected speakers or panelists, and providing detailed planning and execution of events.”
Also, according to Forbes, CatalystCreativ hosts an event series in downtown Las Vegas called Catalyst Week. In that program, a few dozen individuals gather every month for an intimate four-day interactive experience that works to familiarize them with Hsieh’s Downtown Project, engage with (and give back to) the local community and experience “random collisions” that spark new ideas and business opportunities. Speaker sessions are open to the public and, drawing from Hsieh and Slavin’s extensive networks, the programs attract large and interesting cross-section of people in various stages of their careers.
Slavin also has a Gainesville and Brenau connection: a senior vice president in her company, Robert Fowler, is a Gainesville native and his father runs the agency that brokers the university’s group insurance for employees.