Joy Allen-Altimare ’95 has spent the last two decades cultivating an impressive résumé. Today, as Chief Engagement and Brand Officer at EHE Health in New York City, she uses her advertising and marketing prowess to direct innovative engagement and product development strategy. Prior to her time with EHE Health, Allen-Altimare worked with leading agencies such as Ogilvy+Mather, GREY, and Publicis on preeminent brands such as L’Oreal, Verizon, and ColgatePalmolive and spent time in the publishing space with Conde Nast.
A perfect embodiment of her cheerful moniker, Allen-Altimare understands the importance of leading a team with empathy, integrity, and ability—words she uses to describe a GPS girl. We asked her how she got to where she is, and how her time at GPS had an effect on her.
Q: How did you get into what you’re doing now? Did you always know you wanted to do something in your field?
A: I actually thought I’d be a doctor. I was on the pre-med track at Boston University and wanted to be a pediatric cardiovascular surgeon, but I fell in love with advertising and marketing. I think it is perfect for my brain—I’m a strategist. I really think about the entire experience that I want consumers to feel. Is the product appropriate for them? If not, who is it appropriate for? Is it a viable product? Even though I didn’t go to college initially thinking I’d be doing this, it’s what I’m passionate about. I could not be doing anything else.
Q: What was your favorite tradition at GPS? Why?
A: I had two—I really loved Cat-Rat, which feeds into my whole love for mentorship now, and I also loved May Day. Cat-Rat shows you how to be a responsible mentor. These entering sixth-graders are nervous, but they have a built in friend in their Cat. I probably also loved it so much because I’m an only child, and Cat-Rat was the beginning of a great community.
With May Day, I loved doing the may pole dance. I know we joked about it when I was in school, but it’s just such an awesome, happy thing. It was really the first thing I saw at GPS, too. My godsister, Allison Cowan Carroll ’89, was maid of honor, and I remember going to May Day and thinking it was amazing! It was seared on my brain that GPS was about friendships and supporting each other. Before I thought the school was just hard, but seeing that, I realized it was also fun.
Q: What was your Chapel Talk about?
A: My Chapel Talk was about coming into GPS as one of three students of color in my class and immediately feeling welcomed. I just had such support, starting from Mrs. Moore in Admission all the way through high school. I spoke about being thankful for the opportunity and how GPS changed my life. My parents had a great structure, and I had a great church structure, and with GPS, that all prepared me for my life now.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you got during your time at GPS? Do you remember from whom it came?
A: Ms. (Cathie Ault) Kasch gave me the best nonverbal advice. She taught me that you can really do anything. Women are miraculous. We are so smart and so ambitious. If we think it, we can do it. I’m 43 now and a mom, and I know she must have had moments where she was doubting herself or having questions, but she always spoke and moved with confidence. Now I can appreciate how much she did. It’s such an important lesson to be able to own your body, your spirit, to be able to control a room without even speaking.
Q: If you could offer GPS students one piece of advice, what would that be?
A: One of the lessons I’ve learned over time is that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. Learn quickly to forgive yourself. You are not going to be perfect—you’re going to make mistakes. The power of saying “I forgive myself” is so important. You have to be good to yourself or you can’t be good to anyone else.
Q: Can you point to anything that GPS did to prepare you for your future?
A: I had such a great education. I was leaps ahead of people when I went to college, which gave me confidence when I was walking into a room or turning in assignments. But in life in general, the community of GPS is very supportive. It prepared me for the next step, which prepared me for the next step. GPS gave me confidence that I could build upon.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment thus far?
A: Definitely my daughter. One hundred percent, hands down. All of this I do for her. She gave me a greater capacity of love but also forgiveness. You can be upset with children, but they hold forgiveness close to their heart, and that’s a lesson you have to take. The key to life is to quickly forgive.