Dr. Dawn Wade Talks Leadership & Blazing A Path For Other WOC In Marketing

"What we do at the table is so much more important than just being there."

Dr. Dawn Wade
Photo by Mel B. Elder, Jr

Dr. Dawn Wade is a visionary. Currently holding the esteemed positions of Managing Partner and Chief Strategy Officer at NIMBUS, Inc.— a distinguished Black-owned marketing agency based in Louisville, Kentucky— the Louisiana native has made it her mission to empower other women to dream bigger in the world of strategic marketing and communications.

“What we do at the table is so much more important than just being there,” Dr. Wade tells BrownStyle Magazine in an exclusive interview. “As John Lewis would say, we have to make ‘good trouble.”

Coming from very humble beginnings in Hammond, LA, Dr. Wade seen a lot of struggle and violence within her community. However, she never let that stop her from reaching her goals, especially thanks to her parents’ consistent reminders to reach for the stars. “I was fortunate enough to learn from the mistakes of those around me at an early age, which helped shape my trajectory,” she says. “I’ve always known that God had a bigger plan for me, even when I didn’t know what that plan was or is.”

Dr. Dawn Wade
Photo by Mel B. Elder, Jr

To date, Dr. Wade continues to use the lessons of her youth to confront adversity and drive change in the marketing world. “I’ve been in the marketing industry for nearly a decade,” Dr. Wade tells us. “I began my career as an engineer after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering. I later went on to pursue a Master’s Degree in Logistics/Public Administration, a Master’s in Executive IT management, and a Doctorate in Business.”

Like most women in male-dominated fields, the highly educated entrepreneur has experienced the firsthand dismissive behavior one can experience in the corporate world. Still, she never lets that stop her from advocating for what she believes is right— even if that means saying no to brands that don’t have our communities’ best interests at heart.

Dr. Dawn Wade and husband Stacey Wade
Photo by Mel B. Elder, Jr

“We’ve received some eyebrow-raising requests over the years, and I feel good knowing that I didn’t compromise my integrity or devalue our culture for money,” she reveals. “Positively disrupting the practices and behaviors of billion-dollar brands that benefit minorities is very encouraging. It’s the most rewarding work for me.”

While her work and credentials speak for themselves, Dr. Wade says that her family is truly her greatest joy. “I am blessed to have a wonderful husband, Stacey Wade, who is also my best friend and business partner. We share a cool Mohawk-wearing seven-year-old son, Carter, who is always by my side,” she shares.  

So how does Dr. Wade juggle all of her responsibilities as a wife, a mother, and a successful and educated professional? Ahead, she shares the secrets of how she maintains a Soulful Soft Life while achieving her goals.

Always Being Open To Learn

Dr. Wade recognizes that even with four degrees, she will always be a student in life. “I am forever learning and hungry to achieve more,” she shares. “The more I learn, the more opportunities present themselves to make my life and the lives of those around me better.”

She continues, “When I reflect on my career in marketing, I realize that much of what happens in culture is a construct of belonging to something different than what you have or currently embody. This excites me to keep learning and pushing the boundaries of what is possible.”

Planning For Success As A Married Couple

As business partners, the Wades know the importance of working together to plan for success.

“Stacey and I have a relationship that works well for us because we desire to achieve success in multiple ways— we are truly equally yoked,” Dr. Wade explains. “We push one another to be better in a way that keeps our souls connected and provides an attraction that is bigger and deeper than what most think about marriage.”

The lovebirds also know the importance of being intentional when carving out quality time for one another. “We’ve been married for eight years, and things have changed over time, but who we are deep down has remained the same. He’s probably the best person I know in life because he sees the best in everyone and everything, which grounds me when we disagree on things.” 

Fully Embracing Motherhood & Family

“Motherhood is easily the best part of life for me,” Dr. Wade reveals. “All of my steps have to be calculated to ensure that my son is getting the best version of me and that his well-being is at the forefront of every decision I make. I know that even when he’s an adult, he will continue receiving my guidance as long as I’m alive.”

As business partners in marketing, the Wades often find themselves traveling a few times a month. When possible, the busy couple brings their son with them to stay connected and help him understand what they do for a living.

Dr. Dawn Wade and her family
Photo courtesy of Dr. Dawn Wade

“We want him to understand and appreciate how much we work and the goals we are trying to meet,” the proud mom explains. “The pressure to be an excellent mom to Carter is probably the most pressure I’ve ever placed on myself, but it’s so much fun. I wouldn’t change a moment. Never before have I had to think so far ahead. The choices that I make today will impact him for the rest of his life, and that’s heavy.”

Balancing Acts of Love & Self-Care

“Balance is a funny word when you have to manage yourself, motherhood, marriage, and a career,” Dr. Wade shares, noting she is thankful for all the love and support she receives on the daily.

While Dr. Wade doesn’t have much free time, she recently began prioritizing moments for self-care. “Twice a month I have home massages,” she shares with us, adding she also finds relaxation in a good mystery or thriller book. 

Being The Change You Want To See

Social activism is important in every sense of the term for Dr. Wade. Earlier in 2023, NIMBUS unveiled a mural at their headquarters that pays homage to the protests in 2020 fueled by the death of Breonna Taylor. The piece called “Twan’s Gift” is specifically based on a photo taken by Louisville photographer Jon Cherry. 

“Through this work, we aim to inspire community members and activists who move the needle of justice through their mediums, and serve as an example of what grassroots monument-making can look like in an honest, unabashed pursuit of racial justice,” she explains. “Our stories should never be erased or forgotten. Our voices mustn’t be only heard but amplified from our communities to Congress.”

As for women, Dr. Wade encourages us all to keep our finger on the pulse of the issues faced within our community. “Through my work with the West End Opportunity Partnership, we aim to secure more opportunities,” she adds.

In addition, the activist is focused on higher-paying job opportunities, greater access to healthcare, housing stabilization, and food security for the Black and Brown communities.

“While the work is never done, it’s rewarding to see the impact we’ve made thus far. I hope to inspire those around me to also take action in any way they can to help move the needle closer toward equality and justice for our people. I hope that my contributions to society inspire the next generation of Black professionals to break the mold and never give up the good fight,” she concludes.

Editor’s Note: This story has been edited and condensed for clarity.  

Heather Elitou is the Senior Managing Editor at BrownStyle Magazine, where her expertise has led to the publication's success. A devoted mother of three brilliant young women and a loving wife, she finds joy in nurturing her family. Beyond her professional and family life, Heather enjoys savoring the delights of a well-crafted cheese board. She is also known for her love of soulful conversations about living a soft life.