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Who is Deborah Gray-Young? Deborah Grey Young is a vice president and media director at Burrell Communications, and on Nov. 22, she’ll accept the Advertising Executive of the Year prize at the 2013 Marketing to African Americans with Excellent (MAAX) Awards. The awards—held this year at the Hyatt Magnificent Mile Hotel as part of the 14th Annual MAAX Summit—honor “the contributions, innovations and exceptional performance of African American professionals in the fields of marketing, advertising, media, public relations and consumer research,” and they’re voted on by a panel of Target Market News writers and editors, as well as former MAAX winners.

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Who is Deborah Gray-Young, and why is she winning the MAAX Award for Advertising Executive of the Year? According to Black Enterprise, she’s the “go-to executive when it comes to serving the needs for a wide range of clients,” and she’s worked to introduce such major brands as KFC, Tyson, and the Walt Disney Co. to African American consumers. As a member of Nielsen’s African American Advisory Council, she keeps up with the latest consumer trends, and at Burrell Communications Group—a company that “provides advertising and marketing services to the African-American consumer market”—she works closely with Toyota, overseeing communications for the auto giant.

Deborah Gray-Young has more than 25 years of experience, and over the years, publications such as Advertising Age, Black Enterprise, USA Today and Broadcast & Cable have interviewed her on marketing issues. She served from 2005 to 2007 as the chairperson of the Multicultural Media Committee of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and her impressive resume also includes membership on the Advisory Committee for the Multicultural Media Expo, which focuses on “raising the awareness and importance of the media vehicles that service people of color,” according to a bio on the Interactive One website.

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But who is Deborah Gray-Young, other than a talented ad exec with a long list of credential and professional accolades? She’s a woman with a vision. She follows a philosophy of “Mindset + Content = Environment(c),” and in February 2013, speaking to the New York Times about the African American network Bounce TV, she aligned herself with that company’s commitment to “family friendly and respectful” programming. “I take offense to a lot of the stuff out there that is “denigrating, mean-spirited and salacious,” Gray-Young said. “You want to be in an environment where consumers appreciate what’s coming into their homes. The idea you could be anywhere on that network and not be concerned what the content is makes our job easier.”

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