Some companies rightfully take pride in their philanthropic contributions, donating 10 percent of profits, sometimes more, to favored causes. They are inspirational in that, but they have a long way to go to catch Tonia Wright and her MBE/WBE ad agency: 

“Grace Advertising donates nearly 50 percent of what we do,” Wright says. “When it comes to health-care advocacy and marketing, we don’t believe in transactional relationships—in other words, you pay us X and we give you X in return.” 

There is always more to do, she says, and more to say, more to write, and more to create to ensure clients’ audience members have what they need to access a service, learn about a disease they are battling, how to navigate COVID—including how to parse facts from misinformation. The firm’s work also covers therapies to combat HIV/AIDS—“especially in rural communities, where awareness is extremely low,” Wright says.

It also provides guidance on Medicaid expansion and where to enroll, promotes normalization of mental-health care, and more. Though she operates out of small-town Lexington, in Lafayette County, Wright retains the values she grew up with in the urban core of Kansas City, just east of Brookside. At Morgan State University in Baltimore, she studied communications with an emphasis in journalism. That gave her the voice to promote causes she holds dearest. And her volunteer stripe isn’t limited to what the agency can do; she’s also on the board of the Health Forward Foundation, and launched accessHealth News, a newspaper offering comprehensive information about preventable health-care issues and chronic disease. “Clients, even those that are endowed, have a finite budget for marketing in most cases,” Wright says. “We come in and fill in the gaps—paid or not. It simply needs to be done. We also do this work through an equity lens. By God’s grace, we do this work without undercutting quality to provide non-commissioned work.”