Distinguished alumna encourages students to find their passion


David Shutts

Young Alumni leaders Meredith Wood and Will Swanson pose with Barrie Gordon-Gruner.

Cami Culbertson, Staff Writer

Yes, Barrie Gordon Gruner gets a free Hulu account, but that’s not all her discipline has brought her. 

Gruner, this year’s distinguished young alumna, spoke in an assembly to Upper School students about her journey to working as the executive vice president of marketing and publicity of Hulu Originals

Though she finds herself in marketing and publicity now, her journey has spanned industries. She entered Kinkaid in kindergarten and found her passion for journalism as co-editor-in-chief of The Falcon. 

She went on to pursue journalism at George Washington University. It was there where Gruner experienced a shift that would set her on the path to discovering her passion.

“We were in D.C, so every class was about political journalism,” she said. “And I know this might be controversial to say today, but I was not interested in political journalism.”

Gruner realized what she may have enjoyed about The Falcon at Kinkaid was not writing stories but instead designing. 

She began working with Miramax Films and later “Entertainment Weekly,” working across all types of media, from magazines to films to books. It was after this point that she was hired to work with Netflix and explore the streaming industry.

Though Netflix had a lot to offer her as far as pay and opportunity, Gruner said she realized that she was unhappy with her position and management. 

“I quit after five months with no other job to fall back on,” she said, laughing about her husband’s uneasiness at her decision. 

Gruner was offered a position to work with Hulu as one of the company’s first few marketing team members. She has gone on to aid in the communications of the production of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a show that won Outstanding Drama Series at the 2017 Emmy Awards

She also headed marketing campaigns for “Only Murders in the Building” and “The Kardashians,” two shows that are well known in Hulu’s history. 

Gruner has been recognized for her work individually in the Variety Digital Marketing Impact 2022 list and the Variety New Leaders 2020. Her team has also been recognized for numerous ProMax awards

Gruner emphasized the journey of finding one’s passion, and that grades do not mean as much as the impact one makes in their life. She said her own experiences taught her this before she called back to the opening of her speech where she said she never won any awards. 

“Even if you’re at the bottom of your class, it’s okay,” Gruner said. “The wait will be worth it; your journey is unique to you.”