Jeremy Smith

Tell us about the work you do.

I use the power of marketing and media to inspire positive action in communities across the county. As the Director of Communications for the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, I develop and implement the strategies for all communications to effectively and consistently articulate the Foundation’s mission and work – advancing the vitality of Indianapolis and the well-being of its people. I formerly worked for Incite, Emmis Communications’ social impact marketing arm, where I had the privilege of connecting brands and causes for mutual benefit. My team and I crafted engaging, relevant marketing campaigns that leveraged influential media brands and personalities to connect people to resources that better lives.

What issue inspired you to pursue your current path? Is this what you envisioned to do when you were younger?

Connecting young people to health and education resources is my primary motivation. I am inspired by providing opportunities for youth to realize their fullest potential and encouraged by the ways meaningful brands and relevant influencers can champion causes.

I always thought I would be a teacher growing up. Now, I get to use marketing and media to positively impact the lives of young people at scale.

How did you get over your initial fears or barriers and take your first step?

It took embracing the discomfort and being willing to fail fast and iterate often. I learned fairly early in my professional career to See People, Build Trust, Solve Problems, and Create Opportunities. That has been my mantra ever since.

Music and radio have immense power to shape culture, but it feels like we’ve barely tapped their power to advance social change. Why is that?

Musicians and artists working to advance social change over the years (John Lennon, Bob Marley, Tupac Shakur, Bono) have been met with a good deal of public backlash. I think this is driven largely by the concept that social change means different things to different people. Social change is not always welcome. Therefore, artists using their platforms and megaphones to advance social change haven’t been appreciated by specific sectors of our population. Social change is hard – and most people, including musicians and artists, pursue the past of least resistance.

What is the most common form of resistance you face, and how do you overcome it?

As a young professional, there are times when it is difficult to inspire others to believe in my expertise and find value in my experience. Over the years, I have adopted a Servant Leadership mentality that allows me to come alongside my colleagues and demonstrate, in real time, the way I can help them accomplish their professional goals.

What keeps you going?

I have a desire to change lives in the communities in which I live and work. Ultimately, I want to inspire young people to think differently, to challenge the status quo, and to connect to tangible opportunities that help them do that. I enjoy learning how and why young people think and feel the way they do, and I use that to fuel the way I craft marketing and media messages that motivate them.

How can people support the work you’re doing?

Connect with me via social media. Share new ideas aimed at accomplish big goals. Tell me about what inspires you personally. Let’s figure out ways we can work together to Engage People, Inspire Belief, and Incite Action.

I’m called the Batman of Social Impact. What would be your superhero name?

I would be called the Spiderman of Social Change. “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.”