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91 Director of Storytelling Storm Smith, ’10, has been named one of Ad Age’s 2023 40 Under 40. Ad Age’s annual 40 Under 40 is a prestigious list honoring marketing and media trailblazers who have made significant contributions to the worlds of media, technology, advertising, or marketing within the last year. Ad Age is a leading global media brand for an influential audience of decision makers and disruptors across the marketing and media landscape. 

Smith joins 39 fellow 40 Under 40 honorees, all of whom have been recognized as paradigm breakers, smart thinkers, and thought leaders making a difference in the world. Selected from hundreds of nominations, Smith joins honorees from marketing giants such as Amazon, Disney and Chipotle, and startups including Oatly and Mejuri. 

Storm Smith, ’10

“I am so honored to be named to this prestigious list,” said Smith. “I have had a lifelong calling to transform the way we tell stories of BIPOC individuals with disabilities, to ensure they are centered around human truths in the positive lights, to create visual stories that have the power to influence and impact our world. To be recognized by Ad Age for doing what I love is really a dream come true.” 

Brandi Rarus, Gallaudet’s Chief Communications and Undergraduate Marketing Officer, said, “We are delighted that Storm has been named a member of the 2023 Class of the Ad Age 40 Under 40. Storm is a brilliant storyteller with a gift for making the Deaf experience relatable to a wide variety of audiences. She is also an inspiring mentor to students who aspire to careers in marketing communications.” 

At Gallaudet, Smith leads storytelling for Gallaudet’s enrollment marketing unit. She also leads an internship program, “Through Our Eyes Creative Productions,” in which undergraduate students learn the art of creative and inclusive storytelling with Smith as their mentor. 

Smith is an award-winning transformative storyteller and prominent thought leader advancing intersectional disability inclusion and social change in the creative and advertising industries. Prior to working at 91, she was the first Deaf woman recruited by BBDO Worldwide, one of the leading advertising agencies in the world. Smith also served as the first Deaf juror at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. 

Recognized by President Barack Obama, Smith’s storytelling has shined a positive light on critical societal issues such as people with intersectionality of disabilities, youth, LGBTQIA+, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC+). She has collaborated with major brands: Apple, Meta, and Amazon Studios; award-winning actors and influencers Crissa Jackson, Marlee Matlin, H-’87; Natasha Ofili, and Lauren Ridloff, H-’22; and major films, including Sound of Metal. With Ofili, she co-created Am I Next?, a powerful story calling to dismantle systemic racism as told from the Black Deaf experience; and directed The Multi, a short film which Ofili wrote and which was screened at the 2022 BFI London Film Festival, and Slamdance, which spotlights a Black deaf woman’s journey confronting past trauma. 

Smith served as Director and Creative Consultant for Conde Nast’s Bridging the Gap film, which earned Gold Honors in the 2022 Shorty Awards for social media, exploring deaf representation and inclusion through the lenses of Gallaudet alumna and Starbucks barista Sami Liddick, ’14, and University of Washington professor Sarah Coppola. With the nationwide campaign from ZP Better Together “Stand With the Deaf Community,” Smith was featured in a powerful advocacy film calling for federal action to ensure equal communications access for the deaf community. She has also appeared on Capitol Hill and at South by Southwest. 

Smith serves on the Ad Age Diversity Council and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Billion Strong Foundation. 

Congratulations, Storm!

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