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Susan Gravely ’73


Chancellor's Global Leadership Council

Susan Gravely is the founder and creative director of VIETRI, Inc., a lifestyle brand offering Italian-inspired and artisan-crafted dinnerware and home and garden accessories.

After over 30 years of managing the daily operations of VIETRI as both chief executive officer and head product designer, Gravely is now solely focused on leading VIETRI’s product development team and overall creative vision, utilizing her greatest strengths.

Founded in 1983, VIETRI began with a trip to Italy where Gravely and her mother and sister fell in love with the hand painted Italian dinnerware on the Amalfi Coast. Today, VIETRI is America’s largest Italian ceramics importing company, partnering with numerous manufacturers in various regions throughout Italy and Europe. With approximately 40 employees, VIETRI serves a customer base of over 1,500 specialty retailers and department stores in all 50 states, as well as Canada, Haiti, Mexico, South America, Asia and Australia. The spirit of these three women and that first trip to Italy live on in the VIETRI brand.

Gravely remains the heart and soul of VIETRI and spends much of her time mentoring her team, as well as serving as an inspiration to other young people she meets along the way. Her travels around the world, and especially in Italy, have made her a citizen of the world and a friend to many. With impeccably chic taste and a genuine interest in people, culture, and community, Gravely is a world-class innovator in not only design but in the way she lives her life. With over 30 years of experience, she creates VIETRI’s fresh and trendsetting style.

In 2015, Susan, her sister Frances, and her mother Lee were inducted into the Twin County Hall of Fame. The event presented by Twin County Community Pride honors distinguished citizens of Nash and Edgecombe counties in North Carolina and the Gravely women were honored for their many accomplishments and contributions to the community.

Gravely is proud to be a former member of the Executive Committee of the Women’s Leadership Council at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and on the advisory board for Sun Trust Bank in the North Carolina Eastern Region. She is a frequent guest speaker and panel participant at the business schools of UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University and other universities and organizations in the area. She sits on the Rocky Mount Cord Company Board of Directors, the advisory board for VISION, and the board of directors for Beyond Expectations. Gravely supports many extraordinary efforts for the environment and natural resources with her husband, Bill Ross. She was the keynote speaker at the Atlanta Southern Women’s Conference in November 2010 and was named the Legacy Award winner by WithIt, the women’s leadership development network serving the home furnishings industry, in 2014. In 2008, she was a finalist for Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Susan was named Entrebizneur of the Year by North Carolina Business Leader Magazine in 2004, and she was the recipient of the Salem College Distinguished Alumni Award in 2003. In 2002, Susan became an honorary citizen of the town of Nove, Italy.

Gravely attended Salem College and holds a bachelor’s in education and a master’s in recreational therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Gravely is married to Bill Ross and has two stepdaughters. Her favorite things in life are her family, her home, her friends of all ages – and VIETRI!