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Featured on Jun 23, 2011

Raina Kumra

"I love the consistency of change, and the fact that we face paradigm shifting events every day in our fields."


Raina is currently serving as Senior New Media Advisor in the State Department's Office of eDiplomacy, focused on Diplomatic Innovation. She is part of a team of key innovators focused on revising development through the use of technology. She has brought in unique private sector partnerships as well as strategic insight and brand development to the State Department's initiatives. She is the founder of the Agency for Holistic Branding, a strategic design firm and founder of Light Up Malawi, a non-profit focused on renewable energy in Africa. She is the former Director of Communications for FrontlineSMS:Credit, an open source software for the unbanked to increase mobile microfinance use and currently serving on the advisory board for MedicMobile, which furthers mobile health through SMS and open source software. She is also on the advisory board for Sanjhi, a media literacy NGO based in Rajasthan.

The Agency for Holistic Branding focuses on a broad range of clients and is particularly interested in helping social change agents with their messaging and strategy. Previously, Raina was as interactive strategy and design consultant with over a decade of experience. She led the conversion of Wieden+Kennedy New York to a full-service interactive shop with a robust practice in her role as Director of Digital Strategies. Raina engages across all departments and disciplines working with creative teams, media planning, production, account management and strategic planning to provide creative, holistic branding solutions for client business needs. She acts as a catalyst for digital learning internally and provides clients with non-traditional  approaches to the digital space. 

Raina holds a B.S. in film and television production from Boston University, an M.A. in interactive telecommunications from NYU’s esteemed ITP program and an M.Des.S. in design studies for digital applications in urban planning and architecture from Harvard University. Previously, Raina worked at where she was solely responsible for the site’s original interactive content. She headed up interactive production at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, creating award-winning, successful work for AXE, Levi’s, Mentos and ING Direct. At R/GA she concepted and designed experiential websites and advertising for brands such as Purina and Avaya.

Raina has worked on digital marketing and advertising projects for clients such as Microsoft, Burberry, Neiman Marcus, Nike, Nokia, Levi's, Unilever, Nestle, Avaya, IBM, Intel, Bank of America, Target, Aveda, Ian Shrager Hotels, Cantor Fitzgerald/eSpeed, Johnnie Walker,, ING Direct,, Mentos, Wieden + Kennedy New York, Createthe Group, JWT, ABC Family, Electronic Arts (EA), ESPN, Brand Jordan, Proctor & Gamble, Sharp AQUOS, BlackBerry (RIM), CellularONE, Newsweek, msnbc, The Discovery Channel, Eyebeam Atelier, and the Universities of Amsterdam.

Raina’s research and lecture areas include public media art, interaction design in the built environment, emerging technologies, interactive video, mobile applications, and user interface and experience design. Her work has been published in several journals, books and magazines and is part of the MoMA permanent collection. 

  • Title: Senior New Media Advisor, U.S. Department of State
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Midtown
  • Contact: @rainakumra

On The Agency for Holistic Branding’s website, you state that the goal of the agency is “to serve brands and ideas through a new platform of experts”. Who and what constitutes this “new platform of experts”? How does this platform differ from a typical branding agency?

Our platform of experts are a league of people who have carved out different niches in the whole digital branding supply chain. What makes us different is we can easily build bespoke teams because we have the power to work with anyone and everyone in a very broad and strong network.

Altogether, you have been to school for Film, Interactive Design & Technology, and Urban Studies and Architecture. Having studied across this wide spectrum of design, what do you feel is the most important part of having such a broad portfolio of design knowledge? How do your experiences in all of these different fields of design help in your branding?

Having rigorous training in any form of art, design or even engineering and manufacture- makes you really really good at applying that to things you haven't formally learned. Just having the scaffolding behind you to know how to bring something from concept to reality has helped me immensely, especially in technology based design, where things are constantly in flux and everyone in this field is challenged daily with messaging, methods and making ideas real.

If you had to describe your work in one word, what would it be and why?

Positive. If I did everything right, the process, concept, and final form would all leave a feeling of positivity to those who created it and those who enjoy it.

When was your last vacation and where did you go?

I was in Jakarta for some official work with the State Department - training 70 civil society and non profit organizations with some of the best techies in the world: medic mobile, ushahidi, and crowdflower and hooking them up with some private sector partners to sponsor their ideas. Once we wrapped the TechCamp, I headed off to Bali for 3 days. Let me tell you - I never want to vacation in any other place again in the world: Bali is sheer perfection. I love Hindu islands.

Business Development, Social Media, Digital Strategist