1.Tell us a little bit about your career and educational journey?
My bachelor’s degree is in education, then I realized I didn’t like to teach while student teaching the last semester of my senior year. As sort of a “Hail Mary” move I applied for the United States Air Force (USAF) Officer Training School and was commissioned within a year after college graduation.
I’ve been doing public relations/communications work off and on since I first transferred into to the USAF Public Affairs career field after about 10 years of service. It was so long ago that at the time, social media did not exist and computers were all stand-alone. We shared information on floppy discs. In 2002, while I was still active duty, a friend and I created a television show for Fairfax (County) Public Access television called “Get Out and Give Back” where we encouraged people to get involved in volunteering and their community. That led a newspaper column that was published in local papers in three states, then when I retired in 2009 I wrote for AARP’s “Create the Good” and Washington Life Magazine, where I volunteered at 65 local nonprofits and wrote about them in their “Get Out and Give Back” blog. I also did some public speaking and coaching around helping people connect their core values to community engagement. After doing communications for a small nonprofit I decided that I wanted to learn more about where PR/CC was today. When I read about the CSIC I knew that Georgetown was the program for me.
2. How did you first hear about the Center?
I honestly can’t remember, but it must have been while I was researching area PR/CC programs. I was immediately enamored with their mission and remember calling them several years ago, asking if they offered classes. I applied to Georgetown’s PR/CC program specifically so I could be involved with them, and didn’t apply to any other graduate program (although the George Washington University PR/CC graduate program is less than a mile from my house).
3. Do you have any advice for students who are interested in getting involved with the Center?
Write for them! Learn all that you can about the CSIC and the important work that they do. What I love about the Center is their data-driven approach. Their programs and offerings are based on research and their work can be applied to any sector. And, definitely take their signature course, “Cause Consulting.” It was my favorite class and I learned so much. It offers the perfect combination of practical skills and self-awareness, and I grew as both a professional communicator and a person.
4. Work, school or volunteer capacity – What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
My volunteer work. Incredibly, at the very day and hour that the Georgetown admissions committee met to review my application in May 2016, I met with three published authors to explore creating a nonprofit program where I would pay writers a stipend to bring creativity to underserved populations. Today, coinciding with my Georgetown graduation last month, I am proud to say that the program, “Heard”, offers creative and business writing, improv, visual arts and public speaking to the un-heard populations of northern Virginia – inmates, domestic violence survivors, the chronically homeless, etc. We are hosting creative writing programs in two area prisons and planning an open mic night in the late summer, where our clients, acting students and elected officials will read the stories our clients have written.
As the program grows I depend heavily on my Georgetown public relations and corporate communications skills when reaching local media and raising awareness. And, my PR/communications consulting work funds this program.
5. You completed our Cause Consulting course in December 2017. What was the most useful skill you learned in that class?
I learned the value of offering “client delights” or going above and beyond the scope of work to earn the trust of your client. Our Cause Consulting team brought cookies to our client among other client delights and that helped create a camaraderie that was needed at the time. I also sent client delights in the form of relevant articles to my Capstone client, the United States Institute of Peace Training Academy, and that strengthened their trust in me. Periodically I take my paying clients to lunch and send them relevant articles, and that has helped immensely in deepening our relationship. I may not have done that, or not as much, has I not learned about the value of “client delights.”
The Center: A huge thank you to you, Jane, for taking time out of your busy day to share your insights with our students! We can’t wait to see what else your future holds.