Entrepreneur Amanda Slavin Brings ‘Fresh Eyes’ as One of Brenau’s Youngest Trustees
The Brenau University Board of Trustees has appointed Amanda Slavin, CEO and founder of Las Vegas-based CatalystCreativ, as its newest member.
Slavin’s three-year term began immediately upon the board’s unanimous vote earlier this year. She will attend her first of the biannual board meetings in November. However, said Brenau President Ed Schrader, she has already been “fully engaged” in an advisory capacity, in learning the workings of the university and in participating in university programs and events.
Unlike many members of the board who are alumni or related through sometimes multi-generational family and community connections, Slavin has no long-standing ties to the university. Consequently, as one of the youngest members of the board, she brings the “fresh eyes” of a broader perspective that will be an enormous asset, said Board of Trustees Chairman Pete Miller.
The “New Jersey/New York native,” a she describes it, now divides her time between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. She gained national prominence in 2014 when Forbes magazine named her to its “30 under 30” list of top marketing and communications professionals in the world who had not reached their 30th birthdays. Her company, CatalystCreativ, founded in 2012, helps brands develop marketing strategies focusing on Millennial and Generation Z engagement – a key demographic target for Brenau and other higher education institutions. Slavin launched the company with backing and support from her mentor Tony Hsieh, CEO of the online shoe and clothing mega business Zappos.
Slavin did have some relationship to Gainesville, Georgia: Her business partner and close friend Robert Fowler III grew up in Gainesville and she got to know him and his family. Fowler and his father, Rob Fowler, subsequently told Brenau President Schrader about Slavin and suggested she might be a good speaker for some Brenau events. Schrader invited her to deliver the commencement addresses in May 2015 to graduates of both the Brenau University Women’s College, as well as those who received undergraduate and graduate diplomas from other branches of the university.
“As I learned more about Brenau, I was so unbelievably impressed with the school’s integrity and values,” she said.
Introducing her at those two 2015 graduation ceremonies, Schrader said Slavin “has mastered the importance of human connections in just about all aspects of our lives – not only for individuals, but also for some the largest corporations and institutions in the world that often lose sight of the importance of person-to-person communication in any relationship.”
Schrader and Miller were so impressed that they began working almost immediately to convince her to accept a board position. But, according to Slavin, all they had to do was ask.
“As an entrepreneur, I am always looking for programs that educate and inspire students to think like entrepreneurs,” said Slavin, who earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Neag School of Education at University of Connecticut and applied what she learned about teaching in unconventional ways over the past nine years in the hospitality and marketing world in New York City and in development of CatalystCreativ. Brenau, she said, aligned with her philosophies – the principal factor in her accepting the board position.
“I was blown away by Brenau’s commitment to innovation in order to empower its students,” she said. “I also am extremely passionate about Brenau’s commitment to creating an environment in which women can aspire toward their dreams in a space where they are taught to feel that anything is possible. I hope to be a resource for new and creative ways for Brenau to educate, connect and empower its past, present and future students.”