I am incredibly fortunate to do work that I really enjoy. Those who have heard my story know that I fell into strategic communications by accident. I went to college thinking I would become a lawyer. Early in my postsecondary experience, I thought I’d instead be a college professor (but my college professor and college president of a father greatly discouraged it).
An internship on Capitol Hill led to my experiencing what a press secretary does. The rest is history. I never acted on the acceptance letters to law school, instead choosing to go back to Capitol Hill. I’ve spent most of the past 20 years working with not-for-profit organizations and government agencies on public engagement. Much of that time was spent in the education space.
Why this walk down memory lane? Today, PR News named me is Non-Profit/Association PR Professional of the Year. I’m incredibly moved by the award, and for being part of an impressive list of honorees who show, day in and day out, the impact meaningful communications can have on changing policy and public behavior.
I’m doubly fortunate to earn this recognition for my work with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, as we work to reinvent how higher education in general, and teacher preparation specifically, is addressed in the United States. Change can be hard. But I am incredibly lucky to be working as part of such a terrific team, all superstars in their own right.
I get that many folks don’t understand what I actually do for a living. If you ask my kids, they will tell you “daddy talks for a living.” Some hear my job title and think I’m “just a publicist.” In actuality, I am fortunate enough to work at the intersection of education research, policy, practice, politics, and communications. Each day, I get to figure out how those five pieces fit together in a way that improves teaching and learning for both the educator and the child. And I’m grateful for each of those days.
So thank you to PR News for this wonderful honor. Thank you to those who somehow determined I was the top non-profit communicator in the nation for the past calendar year. And thank you to all of those people who work in education communications, those who inspire me, who advise me, who encourage me, and who remind me why we do what we do.