Young Alumni Award
Brooke's experience at USC Upstate was integral to her career path. Jane Nodine, distinguished professor emerita and retired gallery director at USC Upstate, taught her to have high standards and to work hard. Rich Mack, assistant professor of graphic design, showed her how to use the tools of design and apply them with creativity and passion.
But her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design wasn't the only thing that empowered her. There were three specific classes that provided her with a direction for her drive and passion: Women and Gender Studies, African American Art History, and Environmental Science. The impact these classes had on her, Brooke says, is evident in each of her achievements throughout her career.
Brooke currently serves as lead designer for Neue South Collective, a marketing agency based in Spartanburg. After graduating from USC Upstate in 2013, she worked as a graphic designer for Hubbell Lighting in Greenville. In 2016, Brooke joined the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce as the director of marketing and designed the original OneSpartanburg campaign, which is now in its sixth year. She learned how to work with a range of partners and says she is very proud to be part of this initiative and see Spartanburg work toward making its community and economy a more equitable place for all.
The 2020 Census was a year-long effort that Neue South led in partnership with the Spartanburg County Libraries and the US Census Bureau. "Our goal was to get everyone counted once, only once, and in the right place in Spartanburg," Brooke says. "Our county was one of only five to reach a complete count in the state of South Carolina, and our collective PR, outreach, and marketing efforts around the census were awarded the John Cotton Dana Award, which is the highest PR honor from the American Association of Libraries."
Brooke says she is particularly proud of Spartanburg Gives, a benefit corporation started by Neue South to amplify the efforts of local nonprofits, which now has 30-plus member organizations and has helped raise over $250,000 through Giving Tuesday activations locally.
Recently, Spartanburg Gives has initiated the work of the Upstate Studio graphic design students to serve its nonprofit members. Brooke said this has brought her career path and education into a full circle.
She had the opportunity to design fundraising collateral for the City of Spartanburg as they made plans for the Southside Mural, an outdoor installation that celebrates and remembers the African Americans of Spartanburg’s Southside that were integral to building a thriving and historic community.
Brooke has worked on various political campaigns including The Penny Referendum, raising the Spartanburg sales taxes by one penny in order to raise the funds needed to build a safe and clean Spartanburg County Courthouse. She has also served two city and county councilwomen during their election campaigns to ensure everyone has a seat at the table.
In a partnership with USC Upstate, Spartanburg Area Conservancy, and Spartanburg Science Center, Brooke designed the Seeing Through Their Eyes campaign during the midst of the pandemic. Children representing all of Spartanburg County were provided with disposable cameras and opportunities to attend guided tours of the USC Upstate Arboretum and SPACE’s Cottonwood Trial to learn about conservation and the plants and animals that thrive in these locations. These materials were also provided in Spanish. "There was a community voting for the best photographs and those photos reside at the Spartanburg Science Center today," Brooke says.
During the past year, she worked with Together SC, South Carolina’s chamber of commerce for nonprofits that focuses on supporting and strengthening the state's nonprofit community through education, advocacy, communications, collaboration, and leadership. Within that scope of work, she had the honor of designing and developing the 2022 SC’s Nonprofit Summit held in Spartanburg, hosting over 550 nonprofit and community leaders throughout the state.
"I am proud of the journey that my experience with USC Upstate has provided and I look forward to elevating the experience of other students and hopefully I can inspire them to stay in their community and find a passion for serving Spartanburg county as I do," Brooke says.