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December 3, 2019

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Celebrating Kelly O'Keefe's New Business Venture

Please join us as we congratulate Kelly O’Keefe, Creative Brand Management Professor, on the rapid success and growth of his business, Brand Federation. At the end of this semester, Kelly will transition from his full-time role at the Brandcenter and turn his focus the company he founded a year ago.  

During his 13 years here, Kelly says that he is most grateful for the opportunity to have formed lasting relationships with impressive students and alumni who represent the future of our industry. 


“I know I leave the program in very capable hands and I’m excited about the influx of a new generation of faculty and staff and the fresh thinking they bring with them.” – Kelly O’Keefe


Kelly also notes that his work at the Brandcenter will remain a hallmark of his career and he plans to contribute to the school and its students as a community supporter and adjunct professor as his schedule allows. Executive Director, Vann Graves, shares that “the example Kelly set and the impact he has made will reverberate throughout our program. We are glad that he will continue to have a presence at the Brandcenter well into the future.”


As a part of this transition, we’ve enlisted a team of experts to teach our Creative Brand Management concentration. These professors of practice will instruct both first- and second-year students.   

Dr. Brian Brown will teach Craft. Professor Brown has been a marketing professor at the VCU School of Business for 8 years. Prior to that, he spent 6 years as a brand manager at The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta. Professor Brown is a graduate of UVA, Duke, and Georgia State.


In addition to Professor Brown, we are thrilled to welcome back three of our alumni: 

Rian Chandler-Dovis (CBM, 2017) will lead Advanced Portfolio/Independent Study. Rian comes from the agency world (WORK Labs) as well as the brand/innovation consultancy world (Sylvain Labs). She is now a Senior Brand Strategist + Partner at Brand Federation. Rian is a graduate of JMU and the VCU Brandcenter.

Jordan Childs (CBM, 2009) will teach Applied Brand Management. Jordan, a current adjunct at the Brandcenter, has worked as an account manager at Butler Shine Stern & Partners, and as a Sr. Marketing Manager at Lego. For the past 5 years, he’s been an entrepreneur building his own businesses: Shine Craft Vessel Company and Eastern Land Collective. Jordan is a graduate of Appalachian State and the VCU Brandcenter. 

Daniel Riddick (CBM, 2008) will teach Accounting (Intro to Account Management). We have many successful CBM alums working in this role and wanted to better expose our students to opportunities within the discipline. In addition, a trend in smaller agencies is to combine the role of strategist and account manager. Arts & Letters is a great example of that; they call the role “Business Manager.”Daniel has 10+ years of account management experience at great agencies like Saatchi NY, Arnold NY, and Big River. Two years ago, he transitioned to the brand side and is currently the Director of Marketing and Communications for Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods. Daniel is a graduate of Virginia Tech and the VCU Brandcenter.


We’re excited about the diverse backgrounds in brand strategy, account management, brand/marketing management, and entrepreneurship that these professors will bring to the Brandcenter.