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Alumnae Stories

Alumna Alison Chaney Credits Spelman with Helping Her Find Her Calling

July 2021

Spelman Alumna A.P. Chaney Takes New Role at Coca Cola CompanyIn her new role at the Coca-Cola Company, Alison "A.P." Chaney, C’2011, has one goal: to bring value to the everyday lives of their consumers in real ways.

In March 2021, Chaney became director of creative strategy for Sparkling Flavors in North America for the bottling company. In this role, she is responsible for optimizing and ensuring creative excellence for popular brands including Sprite, Fanta and others.

Chaney Proves You Can Be Anything You Desire to Be

Inspired by her mother’s successes and the seeds planted within her while at Spelman, Chaney learned that career choices and passions are an evolution and it is possible to become the things we have not imagined.

Spelman Alumna A.P. Chaney Inspired by Mother"My mom’s career path inspires me because she lived by this sentiment from Spelman alumna Marian Wright Edelman, C'6:, ‘You can't be that you can't see,' which is something I have always taken to heart and try to reflect on every day in my career," said Chaney.

"At Spelman, I was able to carve out an identity beyond my achievements. I grew into the person I was called to be. Spelman encouraged me to explore. In that process I found my appreciation for exploration, creativity, a love of words, a passion for volunteerism and my sense of humor."

Chaney who graduated from Spelman with honors, received her B.A. in History, and earned her Master’s in Public Relations from S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she served as an African American Studies Fellow, studying comparative communications strategies for men and women in professional basketball. Her thesis at Spelman was, “From the Ball Room to the Board Room: A Study of Black Women in Basketball'' where I examined black women’s contributions to basketball in the 1930s. 

Before joining The Coca-Cola Company, Chaney spent most of her career working in advertising as a creative strategist at Edelman, Octagon, Momentum, and most recently Ideas United, where she was a creative director and worked on the launch of the Spelman’s Ascends campaign. During her time at these companies, she accumulated a broad range of experiences, including social community management, sports sponsorships, and experiential events, with expertise in creative strategy, brand activations, and campaign executions. Some highlighted brands for her work include Vitaminwater, Smartwater, Pernod Ricard, Sprint, JBL, and the NBA. 

Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Chaney now resides in Atlanta. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a mentor, and an advocate for creative diversity, gender equity, and social justice within advertising.   

Chaney Answers Questions and Inspires Readers

What made you want to attend Spelman, and what impact has the College had on your success today?

Growing up as a native Minnesotan, I desired to pursue an experience that enriched and expanded my horizons to fully appreciate a broader perspective of Black life. Spelman was a magnificent magnet for me: the academics, the sisterhood, and the city of Atlanta. Spelman afforded a challenge and an opportunity — coupled with expectation and enthusiasm.

Spelman contributed to my success for two reasons. The first is that I truly believe a liberal arts education can position you to prosper in any career. Spelman allowed and fostered my curiosity, critical thinking, problem-solving, volunteerism -- all things I embrace today.

Second, Spelman cultivated in me a clarity of identity.  Coming out of high school, I was one of four Black girls in my graduating class. I found myself oftentimes the “only” in many arenas as an African American — from the Homecoming court to the History Day Competitions to the basketball court.  Yet when I arrived on the campus of Spelman, each student I met had achieved success in her own right and contributed that to her classmates.  At Spelman, you are able to carve out an identity beyond a list of achievements — you are encouraged to explore who and how you are. During that discovery, I found myself appreciating my curiosity, creativity, love of words, passion for volunteerism and my sense of humor. I grew into the person I was called to be.

Spelman Alumnae A.P. Chaney Inspires Spelmanites

What will be your main responsibilities and your greatest goal at the Coca-Cola Company?

I am very new to my role, but my responsibilities are to optimize and ensure creative excellence for everything our consumers see. My main goal is to connect with our consumers in real ways that add value to them every day. Personally, I came to The Coca-Cola Company to do the best work of my career and inspire others.  I did not have a linear career path as I started as a paralegal and evolved into a creative strategist. For the record, my first “creative” job was a copywriter and I had no idea what that even was when I was at Spelman. All that to say, my mom’s career path inspired me as she embraced the sentiment of Spelman Alumna, Marian Wright Edelman, “You can't be what you can't see,” which is something I have always taken to heart and try to reflect every day.  I want to be available to others as others have been and continue to be available to me.

What advice would you give to current Spelman students?

My advice is pretty simple: follow your passions and give as you grow. I did not have a linear career path, as I started out as a paralegal and became a creative strategist.  While the history and my mother’s background in law, I thought pursuing the legal profession made sense. Be true to yourself, follow your instincts, blaze your own trail.  Creating your own path oftentimes requires redirection.  For me, that redirection was applying to graduate school in P.R. at Syracuse and exploring a wide array of passions and professional projects from a stint as Charles Barkley’s intern on TV to  the culmination of directing the Spelman video.  All of these experiences contributed to the position I am grateful to have now. I hope to continue to give to Spelman (and beyond) as I grow with this opportunity…building strength upon strength, from the foundation I gained at Spelman.