Wesley Paraham has joined Memphis-based creative communications consulting firm as PR and social media coordinator. In this role, Paraham supports DCA’s public relations and social media strategies for clients including Explore Bike Share, Memphis Greenspace, Memphis Public Libraries and Big River Crossing, with a special emphasis on research and content development.

Hometown: Memphis

Experience: Bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Memphis. Freelance writer for I Love Memphis Blog and High Ground News.

What talent do you wish you had? I wish I could be an illustrator. I’ve been close with so many fantastic visual artists over the years, and seeing their work always fills me with joy, but also a little bit of envy. I’ve never been any good at drawing. I would trade every other talent I have for the ability to draw the scenes and the characters that I see in my head.

Who has had the greatest influence on you and why? I know it’s cliché, but my dad. He’s always given me the means and the room to attempt new things, even if he didn’t agree with them, and has always been there for me if I failed. I owe him so much. He just wants me to be happy, and I’m happiest doing whatever it is I want to do.

What attracted you to DCA? I want to work somewhere that I feel like my presence is adding something of real value, not just a laborious means to a monetary end. After talking with (DCA principal) Doug (Carpenter), and really getting a sense of the work that DCA does and who they do it for, I felt like it was an environment where individuality and expressiveness is celebrated, and that the work is for those with noble causes.

What are your goals in your new position? I’m really fortunate in that all the clients I’m working with are ones that I believe in whole-heartedly. I want to help the rest of the DCA team continue to get the public as excited for them as we are.

You’ll be working with DCA clients such as Explore Bike Share, Memphis Greenspace, Memphis Public Libraries and Big River Crossing. Does being a lifelong Memphian shift how you tell the stories of these types of organizations with big, community-focused initiatives underway? I think so, yes. I spent my formative years bouncing between my parents’ homes in Midtown and Downtown, and the homes of my very large family, who have lived in South Memphis, Whitehaven, Orange Mound, East Memphis and the suburbs. These clients look to unite every Memphis community in new ways, and, when I channel their voices when I write, I can use my experience as not just a Memphian from one neighborhood, but a Memphian who knows that the needs and desires of one community will be different than that of another. I think that uniqueness in message is what stands out for many people.

What’s your favorite part about the storytelling process? Doing the research, gathering the data. Creating a narrative requires a factual base to begin with, and that always results in learning some new, exciting information about something I previously knew nothing about or participating in an activity I probably wouldn’t have before.

What do you most enjoy about your work? I love the planning meetings with co-workers, where we all think about which strategies would best solve a problem or help us reach a goal. It’s a collaborative work environment that I find challenging, but rewarding. Being a new hire, I haven’t gotten the chance to do this very often yet, but I’m looking forward to being part of the planning phases more and more.

If you could give one piece of advice to young people, what would it be? I’m only 26, come on.

Jon Dowdle