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Ad Council Launches Inaugural Career Accelerator Program in Partnership with HBCUs

The “Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program” prepares and empowers historically excluded groups for careers in advertising and marketing.

New York, NY, October 14, 2022 – The Ad Council today announced a new career accelerator program designed to foster the next generation of talent in the advertising and marketing industry. The inaugural program will begin on October 17th and run 5 weeks, providing participants with education and hands on experience in all facets of the advertising and marketing industry, including AdTech, analytics, communications, creative development, influencers, media, research, social, strategy and more.

“The Ad Council is such a rare nexus of advertising, marketing, tech, and purpose, and we are in a unique position to change how our broader industry engages in improving society. We recognize that there is systemic racism not only in our industry, but across industries and this Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program will pave the way for underrepresented groups to be seen, heard, valued, and compensated while further developing their skills. We’re so grateful to our partners as we support these young professionals and lead the way to change how people think about hiring, content, and program development,” said Ad Council Chief Equity Officer, Elise James-DeCruise.

“Our Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program isn’t just a reflection of the Ad Council’s ongoing commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within our organization — it’s a reflection of the impact that's possible when our industry comes together,” said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council. "Along with our partners, we’re proud of fostering the next generation of talent with this cohort, providing support, sharing learnings and creating paths to success for people who have been historically excluded from the industry.”

The inaugural cohort of the Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program includes 15 current students and recent graduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) — Howard University, Brooklyn College, Morgan State University, Georgia State, Grambling State University, and Morehouse College. Throughout the program, they will gain in-depth experience, ongoing mentorship, and targeted training across a broad range of functions within the Ad Council and advertising, tech, and marketing industries at large.

Fellows will be placed in mentorship circles and instructor-led industry-specific training will enable them to develop meaningful connections with program partners including Dentsu, LiquidSoul, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Makers and more. The fully immersive rotational experience addresses the lack of representation within the advertising industry by diversifying the talent pipeline. Speakers from partner agencies and the 5-week curriculum will give fellows professional development training alongside insights into the advertising and marketing industries and exposure to the tactics and technology used throughout the industry to equip and connect them for the next steps in their careers. The program’s focus areas include: positioning for success (resume building, personal branding, mock interviews), multicultural marketing, AdTech fundamentals, media strategy, digital product management, and leadership development.

The Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program is the latest in the Ad Council’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) under the leadership of James-DeCruise. The organization’s other current work in the DEI and racial justice space includes award-winning nationwide public service campaigns “Love Has No Labels” designed to erode bias and promote acts of inclusion across all discriminated classes, the recently launched “Tear the Paper Ceiling” campaign that encourages businesses and organizations to remove barriers blocking millions of workers – mostly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) – from upward mobility in the workplace as well as additional campaign efforts in partnership with Black Lives Matter and Color of Change. Internally, the nonprofit has built frameworks and growth paths to ensure success of BIPOC staff and reinforces a framework of meaningful dialogue around the issue through a program with Courageous Conversations.

To learn more about the Ad Council ’s Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program please visit

The Ad Council

The Ad Council is where creativity and causes converge. The non-profit organization brings together the most creative minds in advertising, media, technology and marketing to address many of the nation's most important causes. The Ad Council has created many of the most iconic campaigns in advertising history. Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk. Smokey Bear. Love Has No Labels. The Ad Council's innovative social impact campaigns raise awareness, inspire action and save lives. To learn more, visit, follow the Ad Council's communities on Facebook and Twitter, and view the creative on YouTube.


The Ad Council
Ben Dorf