Alumna Impact: Taylor Nelson

Alumna Impact: Taylor Nelson

Tell us a little bit about your career and educational journey?

I began my education at Mount Holyoke, the first women’s college in the country. There I studied studio art (sculpture/welding) and English. I was surrounded by incredible female talent and gained a strong sense of self-respect and confidence. It was refreshing to be in a classroom where women dominate the discussion and feel empowered to voice their ideas and be heard. During my junior year I received a summer scholarship to work with Mayan artisan cooperatives in Guatemala through the nonprofit Mercado Global. This was my first exposure to Latin America and I fell in love with the region.

After graduation, I went on to work with Creative Action Institute, an international nonprofit dedicated to using art for social action, and then joined the Boys & Girls Club to lead their arts and education programming. There, I experienced first-hand the positive impact of after-school programming on low-income, immigrant communities. I did my best to bring the world into our classroom – teaching cultural arts classes, Japanese theater, and West African dance and drumming. During this time, I also started a side hustle selling my artwork on Etsy and returned to Guatemala for a summer to practice my Spanish and learn salsa dancing. I grew up as a painter and have always had a passion for the arts and its power to bring people together.

Eventually I set my sights on Washington, DC as the hub for international nonprofits. I landed a position at Partners of the Americas as the second hire to lead a brand new communications team within a 50-year-old organization.
I didn’t have any formal training in communications and within my first year recognized the need for classroom experience. I searched for a program that would boost my understanding of strategic planning, provide me with the opportunity to work with real clients, and build a network of like-minded professionals. Georgetown’s Masters in Public Relations & Corporate Communications was the perfect fit and allowed me to work full time and go to school.

Over the next five years I rose through the ranks, eventually overseeing all communications across 15 international development programs in 30 countries. It was quite a job and no day was ever the same.

Now I am set to begin a new chapter, this time moving to the San Francisco Bay Area to join Global Glimpse, the largest nonprofit dedicated to serving low-income students through immersive travel experiences in Latin America. I am thrilled to lead the communications strategy for a mission that weaves together the last decade of my personal and professional experience.

I will be graduating from Georgetown this spring after nearly four years. It has been a journey, one class per semester to balance work and school, but it has paid off!

How did you first hear about the Center?

The Center for Social Impact Communications was one of the primary reasons that I applied to the Georgetown Public Relations & Corporate Communications program. I love the fact that there is a center dedicated to communications for social impact because that is such a powerful and needed area of research. I have attended most of CSIC’s field trips in my 3.5 year at Georgetown and I have taken Cause Consulting with director John Trybus.

Do you have any advice for students who are interested in getting involved with the Center?

Attend the field trips – they are valuable opportunities to get an inside look at nonprofits and network with their in-house communications teams.  And definitely take Cause Consulting. John is a great mentor and it’s fun to work in account teams to serve a client. The course provides you with a safe space to hone your consulting skills. Offer to write for The Blur or schedule a meeting to see how you can support the Center’s ongoing research. I have used CSIC’s publications as insight for my job and for training other staff on the value of storytelling.

Work, school or volunteer capacity – What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

I remain most proud of my work at the Boys & Girls Club when I led a nine-month public art and leadership project that empowered local Latino youth in celebrating their community through the design and painting of a mural. I gained valuable communications and fundraising skills and had the opportunity to work directly with youth and community stakeholders to create a final product that reflects the true diversity and energy of Salem, Massachusetts.

Additionally, I am proud to have worked on former-President Obama’s signature education initiative in Latin America to increase study abroad and training opportunities for students. I managed the communications efforts for 100,000 Strong in the Americas, launching a new website, hosting roundtables at the White House, and working with the State Department, Embassies, and corporate partners to bring this public-private partnership to fruition.

You completed our Cause Consulting course in 2017, what was the most useful skill you learned in that class?

I gained valuable skills from Cause Consulting – flexibility to respond to client needs and account team challenges, open mindedness to think through a strategy from top to bottom, and trust in my abilities and those of my teammates. You must be highly organized and thoughtful in each and every touch with your client. The real-life skills application in this course has given me the confidence and preparation to tackle Capstone this semester.

The Center: A huge thank you to you, Taylor, 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.