James J. Kempster

Pratt Institute has named James J. Kempster as the Institute’s first Vice President for Communications and Marketing. In this role, he will lead a newly created communications and marketing operation to support the Institute and its multifaceted mission. His appointment began on February 4, 2019.

Kempster’s new role as Vice President follows his six months’ service as Pratt’s Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement. He joined the Institute in January 2018 as Executive Director of Communications, after 30 years in communications and marketing for secondary and higher education.

“Jim’s comprehensive experience, ambition, and creative vision along with his dedication and enthusiasm for Pratt, uniquely position him for this leadership role,” said Pratt Institute President Frances Bronet. “His intellectual and professional capacities and generosity are vast; he is the ideal person to direct Pratt’s efforts forward into its next exciting phase.”

As Vice President for Communications and Marketing, Kempster will serve as the senior administrator responsible for oversight and management of Pratt’s communications, public relations, marketing, messaging, and branding activity. He will lead his department in new efforts to work with the Pratt community to meet our communication and marketing needs, as well as our enrollment, fundraising, and institutional priorities.

“We have an opportunity to build a new collaborative communications and marketing model here at Pratt unlike any I have experienced before in my career, because our faculty, students, staff, and alumni do the work of design and storytelling in everything they do,” said Kempster. “Partnering with our colleagues to promote their students and programs, to co-own the Institute’s brand, and to develop effective new communications channels will make my team's work so much richer, innovative, and supportive to the Institute.”

Before coming to Pratt, Kempster was Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Brown University in Providence, RI. Over nearly three decades in New York, he spent five years as Senior Director of Marketing Communications at Fordham University, where he developed the department's collaborative workflows and spearheaded the launch of a new, fully responsive website, email communications, and related social media. Prior to that, he also served in communications and leadership roles at Union Theological Seminary in New York; Brooklyn Law School; and The Town School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he also taught. Kempster began his career in education as head of the fine arts department at DeSmet High School in Saint Louis, Missouri, where he taught studio art and theater.

He holds a master of fine arts degree in painting from the School of Visual Arts, New York, as well as two master's degrees in theology and the arts from the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, California. He earned a bachelor of science degree in philosophy and letters at Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, Missouri, combined with minors in fine art, theater, and English literature.

Photo: Ron Hester Photography