Susan Kelley


I have been professionally involved in advertising, marketing, and communications for over four decades. My first job after college was as a technical illustrator for a minicomputer firm at a time when minicomputers were the size of refrigerators. In the nineteen-eighties I was a founding partner and senior art director of an advertising agency where we were early adopters of the fax machine, the Macintosh Classic, QuarkXpress, Photoshop, galley waxers instead of rubber cement, and the flatbed scanner. I have spec’d and ordered type for 6:00 p.m. pickups so type galleys could be delivered first thing next morning by the NY type house.

Since 2001, I have been the proprietor of kelley|fortuno marketing design, providing creative marketing and communication solutions for small businesses, non-profit organizations and educational institutions who want to connect with their customers and constituency on a human level.

More recently, as I sunset professional activities, I have pivoted to a new career. After years of working with educational institutions, I am now working for a public university, providing administrative support to a school of visual and performing arts. I continue to feed my creative soul through personal projects, particularly in the area of diversity, equality and inclusion.

Tell us how and why you became involved in socially responsible communications, any thoughts on why design can be an especially effective tool for this goal, and, if you wish, give us an example of a project of which you are proud.

Prior to the arrival of Covid in 2020, I had been contemplating how I might reinvent myself professionally. I was fortunate to enjoy a very long and rewarding career as a creative, but I wanted to try something different. At the time, I had a number of educational clients, and was consulting for an affiliate of an international non-profit. I began to realize that I very much enjoyed communicating information and promoting goods and services that served the public but not for financial profit in the capitalistic sense.

When the pandemic arrived, it felt like the perfect opportunity to leverage my creative skills into a project for good. I decided to take myself on as a client and with input from friends and relatives we decided we would like to better understand our nonbinary friends and loved ones. A personal project turned into, a website-based campaign to help others respect the importance of using an individual’s choice of pronouns. Now that I find myself in a university environment, I am particularly proud of this campaign and how it helps me understand and relate to people of various generations.

Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does this moment in time present any special opportunities, urgencies, obstacles to designing for good?

I do believe we are living in very challenging times filled with loudness, misinformation and misunderstanding. The mission of is to educate and promote understanding using a whisper instead of a shout. I can’t say that we have encountered major obstacles, but our greatest communication challenge is to get noticed without yelling. We chose to communicate using grace, beauty, and understated elegance combined with the power of color and simplicity.

This moment in time has presented a special opportunity for us. We very much appreciate being recognized as a leading ‘Designer for Good’ by GDUSA and Robert Half. This recognition has encouraged, motivated and energized us to move forward and continue our objective.