I have loved writing and photography since 7th grade, when I tried my hand at creative stories in English class and discovered a discarded Pentax K1000 in my basement.

As one of three who resurrected my high school’s newspaper after it lay dormant for more than a decade I jumped into mass communications at IUSB in 1989 and became a writer for the Preface. After several unfulfilling jobs, I landed in my dream career as a staff writer for a small town newspaper (The Papers, Inc.) in 1996.

Finally, I found work to be rewarding. I liked researching, interviewing, listening, retelling, composing a picture – and “filling the frame” – and seeing my work in print.

I found out that I was pretty good at writing and photography during that first newspaper job. It was real. Real people. Real stories. Real images of those real people. It was authentic. True stories. And authenticity worked.

Proudly, I hung nine first-place plaques on the wall and counted more than 20 second- and third-place awards from the Hoosier State Press Association between 1997 and 2001 for headlines, columns, features, news stories and lots of photos. My success earned me invitations as a frequent guest on small town local radio, too. All-state, small state. But it was good.

I saw opportunities for new publications, multi-media projects and an online digital audience, so I helped the sales team create new events, products, developed and built a website and continued to seek new ways to grow.

In a wonderful and natural transformation, success carried me over to the marketing side of the media business as I stepped up into management as an executive director of marketing and circulation at the Elkhart Truth (Indiana). I studied business and marketing at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and Indiana Tech in Elkhart.  I helped develop reader-generated content opportunities and interactive digital platforms with video from 2004 to 2007.

More importantly, I’ve used those skills to help numerous businesses and nonprofit organizations develop effective marketing strategies and successful tactics.

I haven’t stopped learning. Of course, there have been a handful of hard lessons, losses, failures and embarrassments along the way. But, I haven’t stopped learning. For instance, I love finding new ways to use Facebook and Google products for tactics. And at a deeper level, I love learning from a progressively younger group of peers and experimenting with new strategies.

It’s just fantastic to realize, today, for some reason it’s setting in today, that authenticity was not only the key to my early journalism and media successes – it continues to be at the foundation of winning marketing strategies – and relationships.

– Currently, I am the VP of Communications for AMA Michiana and serve as Sr. Account Executive at TaigMarks Advertising and PR in Elkhart.