Nneka Norville (MPA ’06) has one important piece of advice for aspiring professionals: “Be a lifelong learner.”

That outlook has served Norville well, inspiring her to transition from entertainment law to her true passion: social impact marketing. She currently serves as director of corporate-social-responsibility at Black Entertainment Television (BET), a job, she explains, that “merges my diverse interests in social change, business, brand management, and marketing strategy.”

Early in her career, while working in marketing communications strategy, Norville first discovered the growing field of corporate-social-responsibility, and she challenged herself to learn more.

“It was an emerging career path that piqued my interest,” she recalls, “and a professional opportunity ripe with possibilities.”

Eager to broaden her horizons, Norville took a detour from her career and joined the National Urban Fellowship program, allowing her to work at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation while simultaneously pursuing a Master’s of Public Administration from Baruch’s School of Public Affairs – her second graduate degree.

“Baruch taught me the technical aspects of public information,” she says, “including public-private partnerships and the use of research. My time at the Packard Foundation, meanwhile, allowed me to put those skills to use in real-time, providing my first professional opportunity in philanthropy.”

Those experiences – both in and out of the classroom – prepared Norville for what has been an exceptional career. Soon after graduating from Baruch, she worked for the Kaiser Family Foundation, partnering with media companies to create campaigns addressing public health issues across the globe..

She has worked at BET for the last seven years, creating some of the Network’s most transformative social campaigns, including the annual BET Goes Pink initiative for breast cancer awareness and the BET Next Level education campaign. Additionally, she spearheads BET’s collaborative efforts with My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, President Obama’s campaign to improve life outcomes of boys and men of color.

Not surprisingly, Norville’s peers have taken notice: she received an EMMY Award in 2008 for her work on the Rap it Up campaign addressing HIV/AIDs; The Network Journal, a business magazine for black professionals, named her to its “40 Under Forty” list; she received a Rising Leader distinction from Women in Cable Television in November, 2015; and was recently named as a Cynopsis Social Good Leader of Year finalist.

“It feels great to be recognized for my work in the field,” Norville says. “But the most rewarding part of my career has been the ability to effect real issues that impact real people. That’s what has made my journey so worthwhile.”

—Gregory M. Leporati 

Leave a Reply