Denise became Chief Communications Officer of the University of Michigan Health System in March 2014. Here she leads a team of 90 people responsible for public relations, marketing, social media, digital arts, web presence, and physician and consumer communication.
Prior to joining UMHS, Denise was president and CEO of the Communication for Social Change Consortium, a US and UK-registered non-profit organization working globally to apply communication to public health and other global development issues including AIDS, malaria, food security and malnutrition.
Gray-Felder has more than 35 years of multi-faceted communication, marketing, management, and issues management experience, with proven leadership in positively addressing social issues facing people living in poverty. She has worked in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors focusing on high-level strategic media placements, developing and implementing advocacy campaigns, reputation and risk management, organizational positioning, culture change, labor and employee communication, policy communication, and community engagement in more than 40 countries. As the founding president of the Communication for Social Change Consortium, she was an inspirational leader and successful advocate.
Prior to launching the CFSC Consortium, Denise was vice president of administration and communication for the Rockefeller Foundation for 9 years. There she oversaw budgets exceeding $200 million for work in communication and policy, research and learning, facilities, Bellagio Conference Center, information technology, finance, human resources and comptrollers. In this role she excelled at managing teams, cost containment, obtaining and supporting special interest grants, and managing special projects.
Prior to the Rockefeller Foundation she worked for 16 years in AT&T public relations in progressively responsible management positions. She was hired as an assistant manager for Michigan Bell media relations and had advanced to director of AT&T General Business Systems at the time of her resignation. Her work at AT&T included speechwriting for the office of the chairman, serving on the labor negotiating team, human resources communication, global media relations, issues management, employee communication, government relations communication and advocacy. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Michigan and a MA in broadcasting from Wayne State University, as well as a certificate in global marketing from the U-M Ross School of Business Executive Program.
In her former corporate positions at Michigan Bell Telephone Company, American Bell and AT&T, Gray-Felder handled a broad portfolio of strategic communication, reputation management, special events and issues management activities - including media relations for Michigan Bell Telephone Company's role in the 1980 Republican National Convention (held in Detroit), AT&T's role in the 1984 Olympic Games (Los Angeles), the launch of AT&T's first computer, and media relations for the break-up of the Bell System.
Gray-Felder has been a communication and business school adjunct professor at several colleges and universities in the United States, Rwanda, Colombia, Jamaica, Canada, Europe and Singapore and has produced numerous book chapters, reports, learning CDs, publications, newspaper and magazine articles. A former newspaper reporter, magazine editor and broadcast producer, Gray-Felder is a frequent and accomplished speaker on communication for development and global communication challenges.