Vita M. Harris

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Executive Vice President, Director of Insight Services, Draft, New York, N.Y.

As executive vice president and director of insight services at Draft New York, a global marketing communications agency within Interpublic Group of Cos., Vita M. Harris leads the group responsible for bringing together the disciplines of strategic planning and research with databasee marketing to make the agency and its clients smarter about their customers and prospects. In this capacity, she has pioneered a groundbreaking strategy, called Behavior Path MarketingSM, that mines the agency’s insights into consumers to create fresh, relevant and strategic marketing communications programs. The programs have transformed business for Draft’s clients and have helped give the agency lead status on such premier accounts as U.H.G./A.A.R.P., Verizon and C.A. (formerly Computer Associates).

Harris graduated from Howard University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in business administration and has taken doctorate-level courses at the University of Maryland. In her community activities, she focuses largely on mentoring youth and young adults. She has been a youth leader and mentor in her church and currently is a mentor for Interpublic’s InterAct Associates Fellowship program, which was established to promote diversity within Interpublic agencies. In addition, Harris says, she is “committed to and involved in mentoring young women who are pursuing careers in advertising and marketing.”

Family support and role models were a boon to her success, Harris says. Her mother, a breast cancer survivor, overcame racial barriers in the South in the 1960s to become the first Black female C.P.A. in the state of Virginia. “Her determination in the face of adversity and against odds has allowed me to understand that there are no limits to what I can accomplish,” says Harris. Her father established the nation’s first State Office of Minority Business Enterprise in Virginia (VSOMBE). Harris points to his “pioneering spirit and visionary leadership” as inspiration for her own career. Her brother facilitated her move to New York, and Jacqueline Silver nurtured her in the “male-dominated field of advertising,” she says. Most important, however, is her own faith that keeps her “trusting and believing in the hope of the future,” she says.

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