Meet The Drum’s US 50 under 30 honorees from the Northeast

Each day this week, The Drum will be highlighting 10 of the 50 talented women that make up our inaugural 50 under 30 in the US, a list that is celebrating women across the country who are putting themselves - and their cities - on the map via their creativity, achievements and dedication to an industry that is changing at a fast clip.

Today we are featuring our honorees from the Northeast. Each was chosen with the help of a judging panel that included MullenLowe Los Angeles executive creative director Margaret Keene, Colle McVoy executive creative director Laura Fegley, Arnold Worldwide chief creative officer Icaro Doria and Barker EVP-creative director Sandi Harari.

After receiving nominations from readers, the judges helped choose the final 50, who will continue to be revealed throughout this week. They will also be featured in the October issue of The Drum's magazine.

Below, our finalists from the Northeast discuss career achievements, advice they’d give to those just starting out in advertising and favorite things about living and working in their respective cities.

Find out more below – and check back tomorrow (August 16) to read about our honorees from the Midwest.

Marybeth Ledesma, art director at Droga5 in New York, New York

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

It's been exciting to see my work at the big awards shows, so I'm grateful for that. But I feel like my biggest achievements are still ahead.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering advertising today?

Don't reference ads to make ads.

What brand means the most to you?

Apple and Google are pretty important to me since I used both every single day.

Meagan Ducharme, designer at Nail Communications in Providence, Rhode Island

Why do you like living and working in Providence?

I love Providence so much. I grew up about 45 minutes away in a small town and I used to come out here for shows when I was in high school. I always wanted to live here, it just felt like home. It was more diverse and catered more to the LGBTQ crowd and so naturally I just ended up hanging out here when I lived at home. I ended up going to school in Boston and living there for 3 years but I eventually declared Providence as my home base.

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

My dad actually has played a big role in things that have inspired me. This is something I didn’t quite realize until leaving home for a few years. I think part of it was where I grew up, things he collected, things he liked, and part of it was his personality in general. He always has a way of romanticizing or dramatizing a situation and, though sometimes that can be frustrating, it can also be magical. He kind of created this story that I take with me as I grow. And I think I look back on that often to define myself as a designer. Its nice to be inspired and motivated by what makes you you.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering advertising today?

How about three pieces of advice?

1. If you’re a designer look for a job at an agency or creative shop that values design, and find a mentor.

2. Look for opportunities in every single project you’re given. Even if it isn’t apparent at first, each project has the potential to help you grow as a designer.

3. Always try to impress yourself.

Cécile Robertshaw, senior copywriter at FCB in New York, New York

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

Eating an entire cake by myse… whoops, thought the question was about life achievements. Career-wise, I represented FCB New York at a global hackathon, getting to work with the minds of Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

My creative partner, James Meiser. We push each other’s ideas to be better, and our different perspectives continually take them in unexpected directions. We’ve grown a lot together; I wouldn’t be where I am without him.

Why do you like living and working in New York?

I have a multicultural background, which I treasure, but a downside is that I never quite fit in anywhere growing up. New York is the one place where I’ve felt at home: I can see the world from my doorstep.

Meredith Klein, public relations account supervisor at Brunner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

Working on the 84 Lumber Super Bowl commercial was the opportunity of a lifetime. “The Journey” aired right before halftime on Super Bowl Sunday. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. What followed over the next few weeks was incredible – 14,000 stories, 5.5 billion media impressions, coverage in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, a spot on Good Morning America, and dialogue. Lots of it. The opportunity to introduce 84 Lumber to a national audience and to shape perception around who they are, what they do and what they stand for, was an experience I’ll never forget.

What brand means the most to you?

My favorite all-time brand is a trucking manufacturer, founded in the U.S.A. and with global reach: Navistar International. During my last collegiate internship, I had the privilege to support a talented team that led the Navistar PR business. And it was remarkable. I learned more than I ever thought possible, gained experience and solidified my passion for agency life. The company has overcome obstacles, demonstrated grace under pressure and continues to create new chapters in their storied history.

Why do you like living and working in Pittsburgh?

I love the challenge of changing the perception of Pittsburgh from the Steel City of the 1970s, when everyone was covered in smoke and grime, to the Pittsburgh of today which is a booming metropolis with great opportunities and a great personality. We’ve reinvented ourselves and the opportunity to make a direct impact on our industry, and our future, keeps me hungry.

Kelly Peragallo, interactive designer at Tapad in New York, New York

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

I began my career designing for print and was nervous I had fallen too far behind to ever transition into digital. Once I decided to make that jump, though, I hustled to learn new technology and embrace any challenge as an invaluable learning experience. This move has enabled me to make strides in my career and has also led me to find something I truly enjoy.

What brand means the most to you?

The Atlantic has become a staple in my day-to-day. Aside from the reliable coverage, they have great opinion pieces and long-form articles, along with killer illustrations.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering advertising today?

My advice would be to know your worth and to be confident and unwavering with that knowledge. Being your own biggest advocate always comes in handy when dealing with those who doubt or stifle you.

Lauren Contic, graphic designer at GYK Antler in Manchester, New Hampshire

What brand means the most to you?

My friends say that I should be a brand ambassador for Spotify because I always talk about how great their product is. I believe in their company’s values and admire the mark they have made in the industry. They are a strong, recognizable brand that is always ahead of the curve. Their commitment to producing a product that revolutionizes the way we listen to music is inspiring.

Why do you like living and working in Manchester?

I love that Manchester is a mix of the old and new. The city is made up of textile mill buildings that have been transformed into new businesses, restaurants, and apartments. Even with all the renovations, the city is still rich with history and character. In fact, in its previous life, GYK Antler’s office building served as a cigar factory dating all the way back to 1847. Manchester is also extremely close to everything New England has to offer, it only takes me an hour to drive to Boston, the seacoast, or the White Mountains.

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

My biggest motivation is my passion for storytelling. Whether I’m telling my own story through photography, a brand’s story through graphic design, or someone’s love story through a wedding video, I thrive off of creating something visual for the world to react to. The reactions and feedback that I get, good or bad, are really what push me further to keep creating and growing in my own career.

Bianca Guimaraes, associate creative director at BBDO in New York, New York

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

I’m proud of being featured on Business Insider’s list of the ‘30 Most Creative People in Advertising Under 30’ in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016. I was also featured on AdWeek's Creative 100, named among the 10 'Next Creative Leaders' by the One Show and the 3% Conference and named as one of Shots Rising Stars.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering advertising today?

Don’t fall in love too hard with your ideas and don’t take yourself too seriously. Having a sense of humor is important in our business. Sometimes things can get frustrating but you’ll get burned out really fast if you can’t laugh at stuff and move on. It’s important to know when to let go of an idea so you can focus on the next great one you may have.

What brand means the most to you?

Advertising is a very powerful tool and I love when we can use it for the greater good. I have a soft spot for nonprofit brands, and projects that impact the world in a positive way.

After I worked on a project for Autism Speaks, we received a letter from a parent of a child with autism saying how much our work had touched him and how important it was for the autism community. Responses like that make all the hard work worthwhile.

Jessica Grantham, senior art director at MullenLowe in Boston, Massachusetts

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

Although it’s an absolute honor to win industry awards and press, the small-town girl in me got a huge kick out of seeing one of our campaigns picked up on local news stations throughout the country. You know something is working if people outside the industry are paying attention.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering advertising today?

Treat people nicely. And buy noise-cancelling headphones. Perhaps not in that order.

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

I like to think the most interesting things find you, sometimes. There’s some pretty amazing typography hiding out in old thrift stores and on hand-painted signs. And as distracting and time-sucking a YouTube or Vimeo rabbit hole can be, there’s a ton of new film styles and techniques out there. That intersection of the past and present is where things start to get kind of exciting to me.

Bianca Giaever, director at Missing Pieces in New York, New York

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

Right now I'm reading a book of interviews with Edward Gorey, who is undoubtedly an inspiration for me. Not just his work, but also the fact that he never missed a performance of the NYC ballet. We both like yard sales. I've also been digging deep into Errol Morris' work lately, he's an inspiration.

What is your biggest career achievement to date?

Probably making the Scared is scared in college.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone entering advertising today?

Use the money you make for good.

Cameron Sheehan, client strategist at The VIA Agency in Portland, Maine

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

I have a combined who and a what inspiration. My mother named me Cameron Ryan Sheehan – which, trust me, was sometimes a challenging name for a girl to grow up with. When I was born, my mom was so confident that I would someday be a writer that she chose an entirely gender-ambiguous name. She didn’t ever want me to be discriminated against. My mother is pragmatic. She is logical, skilled and brilliant, but has never lost her sense of compassion. My mother taught me to reach for your goals, but to be grounded in reality; to approach every day with a sense of wonder and appreciation and gumption, but never of naivety.

Why do you like living and working in Portland?

My city is unparalleled, unique and inspiring. I grew up in the Portland area. I promised that when I left for college, I would never come back – but I found myself drawn. It is a tiny cultural mecca of food and art. Portland is a beautiful and wonderful place that motivates me daily.

What brand means the most to you?

Thinx. They’re a female-oriented brand that broke into the industry and have managed to make a name for themselves and a quality product. They challenge social and cultural norms, regardless of the backlash or consequences. They are confident in their social mission and are uncompromising and unapologetic.

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Minda Smiley

Minda Smiley is a reporter at The Drum covering creativity and advertising. Based in Philadelphia, she primarily covers independent agencies and B2B marketing. She also oversees The Drum’s “Independent Influence,” a weekly series that spotlights the work, perspectives and inspirations behind independent agencies. During her time at The Drum, she has covered industry events including SXSW, ANA Masters of Marketing, 4A’s Transformation and C2 Montréal. She is a graduate of the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

All by Minda