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Alumni Spotlight: Kalli Barrone Turcotte (BA '15)

Kalli Barrone Turcotte creates professional opportunities for herself and others. In less than a decade, Turcotte has gone from an intern to the company’s CEO, where she began her career.

I’m from Lake Odessa, a small town in Michigan,” said Turcotte. I had dreams of going out of state to art school, but going to U‑M was the practical and exciting choice for me. I always enjoyed being creative, and the Stamps faculty and staff validated that for me, which gave me confidence as I pursued a career in graphic design.”

During her time at Stamps, Turcotte focused on honing her expertise in the art of typography, saying, mastering typography helped me to become a solid designer.” The Stamps School alum became a graphic design intern at Change Media Group during the summer before her senior year. Her talent and enthusiasm for her work landed her that first big break at one of the top privately-owned marketing firms in the country. 

Soon after starting the internship, Turcotte graduated with a dual degree with a bachelor of arts and a communication degree from the University of Michigan. She stayed at Change Media Group after graduation and was soon promoted to Creative Director, where she built the creative and production departments at the company. I learned along the way that I had to go from being the maker to being the one who was managing others. I had to let go of small things to look at the big stuff,” said Turcotte. I was and am still a designer, and it’s a big part of my identity.”

Reflecting on her time at the Stamps School, Turcotte says that her experience prepared her for the challenges of running a top media agency. Presenting my work in classes and getting feedback was crucial for me and prepared me for all of the client presentations I have done for Change Media Group,” said Turcotte. Problem-solving was another invaluable technique I learned. Those critical thinking skills you build in art and design school are applicable in any industry and last a lifetime.”

Those skills also apply to Turcotte’s life outside of her work. She has put her creativity into renovating a 100-year-old home in Grand Rapids with her husband. Turcotte has also returned to her childhood home in Lake Odessa to start a floral farm with her mom called Barrone’s Blooms. It is not a huge operation, but it is joyful and beautiful. My parents live in the country, and my mom has always had a green thumb. We started Barrone’s Blooms in 2018. It’s been a fun passion project that gets me away from my screen, out in nature, and with my family,” said Turcotte.

At the helm of a successful company and enjoying building her own family floral business, Turcotte is willing to share advice from her own experiences in creating a career. She says it all started when she saw a job posting at U‑M, and she decided to go for it. 

Get an internship, do things outside of class, get all the experience you can. It was all helpful to me,” said Turcotte. Don’t say no to something too quickly, give something time to develop and engage in exploration. When I first did my internship, I thought I’d just give that a try, and I think back that I’m glad I took a chance.”