Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic.  In this profile we feature Julia Sarver , Creative Director at Merritt Group inMcLean, VA.  Photography for the series is by Cade Martin.wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire and Sybil Street for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson, Janice Kinigopoulos and Lori Pressman for THE Artist Agency.

Julia, please provide us a short bio.

My career in DC began at Porter Novelli, where I interned for two summers and played first base on their softball team. After graduating from Virginia Tech, I was offered a job at Arnold DC as a Production Artist. I took every opportunity to express my desire to be a designer, which may or may not have included cornering Creative Directors in the kitchen. I was eventually promoted to Art Director and had the pleasure of being part of the Arnold family for almost six years. I spent two years at Wunderman as an Art Director before moving to Merritt Group in 2013, where I currently work as the Creative Director.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

I love mentoring students in any way I can. I’m an Advisory Board Member for the Communication Design department at Northern Virginia Community College and twice have been a judge for the AAF National Student Advertising Competition. I’m a member of AAF DC, and Merritt Group has been an Official Creative Sponsor of AdWeek DC.

I’m also a huge supporter of a group called MoreThanMe. A friend started this organization, which helps transform lives for girls in Liberia, providing schooling, food, uniforms, supplies and medical care.

What are the things you are most proud of?

I am so proud of my team at Merritt Group. It is a very small team, but I am consistently blown away by how much is accomplished. I’m also proud of the creative progress I’ve been able to make at Merritt Group. Over the past five years, I have helped expand the creative capabilities, establish brand guidelines, and add almost 40 creative awards to the trophy case. Special thanks to a supportive CEO and Partner team who have encouraged me and have always been open to new ideas.

Outside of work, I am really proud of my family. I have an amazing, supportive husband whose affinity for spreadsheets continues to impress me, and a four-year-old daughter who is caring, hilarious and full of energy.

Who are your personal role models?

My dad, who was also my softball coach, helped to instill a strong work ethic. He also showed me the importance of kindness, and not taking yourself too seriously.

Professionally, I’d have to say Rebecca Mabie. I’ve followed her all over DC, at least that’s the running joke. I met her when I interned at Porter Novelli and then worked with her at Arnold and Wunderman. She never made me feel like a junior and always had time to help.

Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

My dad always told me if I wanted to be better, I would have to work at it. This has been incredibly true over the course of my career. I hope to never stop ‘working at it.’

Rebecca taught me the value of a strong edit. Never settle. Work can always be better.

What professional advice do you have for others?

Be authentic; treat everyone with respect, regardless of their position; transparency builds trust; and be honest.

I love this Mark Twain quote: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?

I’m all over the place. Motown, 80s and 90s Country, The Greatest Showman Soundtrack, Disney Karaoke, Simon & Garfunkel. Although when I need to focus I can only listen to the sound of rain.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

Right now I’m loving Ford’s Fish Shack. Nothing beats their fish & chips and a cold beer.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

In high school I played the trombone in marching band and worked at a tackle shop… and both were excellent character builders.

All joking aside, I feel so honored to be able to work in a field that I love. In each phase of my career, I have been privileged to work alongside many incredible and genuine people. This is one talented town and I’m so glad to be a part of it.


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