Jerri DeVard

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Senior VP, Brand Management & Marketing Communications, Verizon Communications • New York, N.Y.

Since January 2003, Jerri DeVard has been Verizon’s highest-ranking African-American female executive. As senior vice president, brand management and marketing communications, she is responsible for solidifying the company’s brand worldwide through advertising, media planning and buying, and coordination of direct-mail responses. DeVard is no newcomer to executive rank. She once served as chief marketing officer at Citigroup, where she oversaw the company’s e-Consumer line business. She was also vice president of marketing for color cosmetics at Revlon, vice president of marketing for Harrah’s Entertainment in New Orleans and served in various brand management positions at the Pillsbury Co. in Minneapolis.

DeVard holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Spelman College and an M.B.A. in marketing from Clark Atlanta University. She is a member of the Spelman College Alumni Association, the National Black M.B.A. Association, Delta Sigma Theta sorority and Jack and Jill of America. She is vice chair of the Foundation of the Executive Leadership Council, a network of senior-level African-American executives committed to building the next generation of African-American executives. Her achievements have been highlighted in the books Cracking the Corporate Code: From Survival to Mastery, and Successful Negotiating Strategies for Women.

DeVard, who considers herself “loyal, family-centered and one who values relationships,” says her mother gave her “the right framework for success” and taught her to reach beyond. “She also gave me a foundation of confidence so that I could do what I do, so that I wasn’t just dreaming, I was achieving. Through her guidance and love I learned how to take my desires and make my dreams real,” she says. Husband Gregg Smith “has been my life’s partner … providing wise guidance and counsel and supporting me through all the ups and downs of my career,” she says. Failure, she believes, lies not in falling down but in not getting back up. “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. It’s important to live and enjoy life now,” she says.

— C.B.

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