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Capitol Communicator is running a series featuring in-depth profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic.  In this “Up Close and Personal” profile, we feature Louise Mendoza-Salas. Photography for Capitol Communicator’s profile series is by Cade Martin. Wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup was by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulos for THE Artist Agency.

Louise, please provide us a short bio and your current title.

Well, let’s take that in reverse. Officially, my current title is ACD at Wunderman. My unofficial titles are a bit more varied. Cat wrangler, mentor, idea generator, comic relief, and wine bringer, just to name a few.

I grew up on the mean streets of St. Louis and I’ve seen a good bit of the world since then as an art director. I’ve been playing the ad game for about 17 years now. Clawed my way up through the ranks, though luckily I’ve never had to shank a man. Worked on a lot of brands you’ve heard of, a few you haven’t, and even gotten a bit of recognition along the way.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

I’m on the AAF-DC, board of directors and have been for about five years now.

What are the things you are most proud of?

Most proud? I don’t know if I have a most proud. I’m proud of the work I do and the strong relationships I’ve fostered over the years. I’m proud of the creatives I help mentor and I enjoy watching their work develop. I’m proud to be a woman in a position of creative leadership. It’s sad to me that such a small a percentage of positions like mine, and above mine actually, are filled by women. Being a part of that small band makes me very proud. I can only hope that seeing women in creative positions like mine inspires other creative women to take charge and help move our industry forward.

Who were your personal role models?

That’s a tough one. I guess my first thought would be to say my mom. She was spunky and thought us girls could do anything.

My dad was a role model for me as well. He was creative and charming and he really lived life to the fullest.

The first Sr. Art Director I ever worked for, Bill Jennings, had a classic style that taught me not to over work it.

My first Creative Director, Jay Cranford, was a role model for me too, I think, but don’t tell him I said so. He taught me to hold true to the big idea. I think working for him made me a better Art Director than I might have been otherwise. But again, don’t tell him I said so.

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

Yes, pretty much the stuff I just said. I still apply a lot of what I learned from them, even today. They truly helped shape my career and I try to pay it forward.

What professional advice do you have for others?

Network like crazy. Creatives are not always big on putting themselves out there and getting involved, but it’s key to advancing your career. You have to think of your career as your professional brand and manage it accordingly.

What advice do you have on what’s appropriate attire for your organization?

I’m a creative, so jeans are a part of our uniform. With that, I still believe you should always show-up smart, confident and dressed appropriately for your audience. You know it when you see it, and you really know it when you don’t.

What are the places you buy most of the clothes you wear to the office?

Fortunately, I’m in NYC quite often and always try to carve out a little time for shopping. I make an effort to change it up, and I never buy what’s on the mannequin.

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

As an AAF-DC board member, I can’t miss this opportunity to advocate on behalf of our organization. Through AAF-DC, I’ve formed some great client relationships and professional associations, and I continue to grow my network whenever I can. We’re all in this crazy industry together.

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