Chris Hershey

CHRIS_HERSHEY

HERSHEY CAUSE COMMUNICATIONS, LOS ANGELES CA

I’ve devoted my career to using my creative skills to help nonprofits, issue-oriented and other progressive organizations soar. That’s evident from my personal journey in this industry, as well as from the history of the agency I founded and continue to lead today: Hershey Cause Communications. Initially a design agency, Hershey Cause Communications has focused on using design, design thinking, and broader communications strategies exclusively on purpose-driven projects. In short, we focus our efforts on using “Communications for Good.” This philosophy and commitment is both pioneering and enduring. Hershey Cause was the first for-profit/ nonprofit “social enterprise” in the space. And earlier this year, we marked our 40th anniversary. Since 1977, we’ve helped thousands of nonprofits discover their voices and visual identities, empowering them to become drivers of positive social change. In addition, I’m proud to be known as “an evangelist for communications.” It’s a reputation built through decades of championing the transformative power of communications. This includes making the power of good communications more accessible; through our Through our “Cause Clarity” suite of tools and trainings, we put free resources in the hands of organizations big and small ‒ all across the world.

HOW AND WHY DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND/OR SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS, CLIENTS AND CAUSES?
After Art Center College of Design and a brief stint in the advertising industry, I opened my own commercial design firm. Initially, my client list was drawn from the top ranks of consumer products sold by corporate clients ‒ companies like The Walt Disney Company, Wells Fargo, and AT&T. Outside of the office, I was a committed activist on behalf of peace, civil rights, and LGTBQ rights. Like many progressive entrepreneurs in the 1970s, I drew a line between my professional life and my passion for justice. One day, in my role as an ad maker, I was approached by a nonprofit organization seeking to raise money to supply the Los Angeles Police Department with calming, child-friendly interview rooms for children who had suffered abuse. To help with this fundraising effort, I designed and wrote an advertisement that ran in local and national publications. The ad was a hit, generating enough donations to fund child-friendly spaces in every LAPD precinct. This was my “light bulb moment.” That experience convinced me that my vision of a better and more just world could be the basis for a business ‒ and not something I only worked toward in my personal life. From that point forward, I committed myself to running a firm that uses “Communications for Good,” an approach that is the lifeblood of Hershey Cause to this day.

ARE THERE SPECIAL CHALLENGES OR OPPORTUNITIES IN PURSUING THESE GOALS IN 2017?
I believe that in these polarized times, creative people will provide the bridges, design the innovations, and reveal our shared humanity that will lead to a healthier, more peaceful world. As our current political climate drowns out marginalized voices, the need for clear and powerful storytelling has never been more urgent than it is right now. In heeding this call to action, we will be connectors and catalysts. Although we may not know exactly what the future will demand of us, we can be sure it will lean on the shoulders of creative, fearless, and skilled communicators. It will require authentic leaders and strategists. It will be an opportunity for progress and purpose. So although this 40th anniversary seems a natural time to reflect on the past, at Hershey Cause our hearts are already directed towards the next 40 years ‒ a future informed by the urgency of today. This is the time for us creatives to lead.

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