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2022 International Women’s Day: Recognizing the Achievements of WVU Marketing Communications Alumni

2022 International Women’s Day: Recognizing the Achievements of WVU Marketing Communications Alumni

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. This is a global day dedicated to the recognition of the achievements of women and call to action advancement for gender equality within all industries and spaces. The first IWD event was a public gathering of over one million people in 1911. However, the digital age has transformed the celebration into this day to cross oceans and empower women to come together, empower others and share their stories digitally.

Today, some of the industry-leading female alumni from the WVU Marketing Communications Graduate Programs share their stories about being a strong woman in the industry and the wisdom they wish to pass down to rising leaders.


Toyin Awesu-Uhuegbu

Toyin Awesu-Uhuegbu

M.S. IMC 2012
Communications Advisor
Prosper Africa

How did you get your start in the Marketing Communications field?

I started my career in this field as the Publisher of Avenue Report magazine. It was a lifestyle and luxury magazine for Black men. I received my degree in Journalism and I initially thought I would be a journalist. However, my passion has always been the intersection of communications and marketing and with the rise of digital media at that time, I knew I wanted to do more. Since then I have gone on to support a number of organizations and the U.S. government utilize integrated marketing and communications as an innovative tool to reach multiple stakeholder groups, raise their profile globally, and shape public policy.

Who is a woman in the field that inspires you?

There are many women in this field that have inspired me through my career. Most notably Zamawa Arenas, Founder & CEO of Flowetik and Bola Atta, Group Director Corporate Communications, UBA Group. I've learned quite a few lessons watching the projects they have spearheaded.

What is your advice to a young, professional woman starting in the field?

My advice to young women starting out in the field, never be afraid to dream big. If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. Remember that if you put in the work and make the sacrifices, one day you will look back and see that everything you asked for has manifested.


Amanda Beck

Amanda Beck

M.S. IMC 2017
Director, Business Marketing
Texas Association of School Boards

How did you get your start in the Marketing Communications field?

I was an English writing major with hopes of becoming a poet when I did an internship for a tiny local nonprofit organization. As their public relations intern, I got my first taste of marketing communications, and I was hooked. I loved the idea of using my writing skills for business, especially at mission-focused organizations. Since then, I've incorporated my family's legacy in education into my career by working in higher ed and education nonprofits.

Who is a woman in the field that inspires you?

Ann Handley, for sure. I subscribe to her newsletter, which she uses as a way to connect with marketers, but also as a teachable moment for how great newsletters are as a marketing tool. It's kinda meta. She is a deft writer and a personable speaker. I've sent her replies to her email and at least one DM on Instagram, and she took time to reply, which I appreciated!

What is your advice to a young, professional woman starting in the field?

Find what excites you and never stop learning about it. Our field is constantly evolving and I think it's so much easier to stay engaged if you're actually interested in it. For young Black women and other young women of color, recognize you may be an "only" at your workplace. It will be helpful to look for supportive cohorts outside of your company.


Leandra Clovis

Leandra Clovis

M.S. IMC 2014
Senior Manager, Field Resource Development
NAMI

How did you get your start in the Marketing Communications field?

Throughout my youth, I had a strong interest in volunteerism and fundraising. I started doing the MS Walks in honor of my mom in middle school and loved encouraging others to join me and to donate — growing my team over the years. In college, I had an internship with Make-A-Wish on their Development Team. I found it fascinating that I could use my skills in communication to encourage others to support amazing causes through fundraising and events. This launched my decade-long career in the nonprofit world working on peer-to-peer fundraising events. Peer-to-peer events are a huge source of income for most nonprofits and are constantly evolving to keep pace with the newest trends and technology. Currently, I work on the national team for NAMI that develops the materials, content and strategy for our NAMIWalks Your Way program — a collection of more than 120 fundraising walks across the nation. One of my favorite parts of my position is drafting emails and communications that help tell the story of our mission to help grow the program and increase funds for critical mental health programs and services. While my title doesn’t contain the word “marketing”, a huge portion of my job is centered around the marketing and communication strategies for my specific event, working in conjunction with graphic designers and editors. And I’m thrilled to say that NAMI was just awarded Organization of the Year from the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum for our 2021 NAMIWalks Your Way success.

Who is a woman in the field that inspires you?

I just arrived home from one of the largest annual conferences for peer-to-peer fundraising where I had the pleasure of hearing from numerous marketing professionals and peers. In today’s society, marketing can sometimes still feel very predominantly male — but within my specific avenue of marketing, girls really do run the world. It was inspiring to just see the room full of so many women who are doing big things and marketing amazing causes to truly make a difference in the world. Look at many of the nonprofit organizations across the nation and, in many cases, you’ll find a creative and brilliant woman leading their marketing teams.

What is your advice to a young, professional woman starting in the field?

Marketing and Communications is a giant field. At first, I wasn’t sure if the IMC Program would even be a fit for me because I didn’t have career aspirations of designing or being what I thought was a traditional marketing professional. However, I found that at the heart of what I do and what I love to do is storytelling. To be a solid fundraiser and to constantly be able to evolve our event concepts, I needed a strong skill set in communications and marketing. Absorb all the skills and knowledge you can, but keep an open mind as to what your journey in this field could be. There are so many amazing possibilities.


Samantha Joneswood

Samantha Joneswood

M.S. Data 2020
Research Manager
HGTV

How did you get your start in the Marketing Communications field?

I joke that I’ve been a practicing marketer since middle school! Across middle and high school, I sold just about everything: poinsettias, cookie dough, Girl Scout cookies, and even Smencils (scented pencils) for school fundraisers. After experiencing so much personal selling, I decided to focus my passion for marketing towards social media in college. My big break was an internship with Southwest Airlines as a Social Business Intern in the Fall of 2017. It took me three attempts and dozens of interviews to finally receive an internship offer! My advice – keep pursuing your goals!

Who is a woman in the field that inspires you?

Recently, I’ve had a crush on Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest. I admire her passion and dedication to advancing women in the workplace. She’s wicked smart and extremely articulate which I envy. Someone else I’ve admired from afar is Dara Treseder, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer of Peloton. She and her team have navigated the extremely challenging supply chain disruptions and I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the Sex in the City / Just Like That commercial featuring the character Big (Chris Noth), Jess King, and narrated by Ryan Reynold. Amazing!

What is your advice to a young, professional woman starting in the field?

First, always stay learning! It doesn’t always need to be a certificate or another degree. It can be as simple as asking a colleague to tutor you in a new subject or skill. The profession has always been constantly evolving but the pace of change has been increasing over time. Second, find a mentor! You will experience situations you’re unsure how to handle. Having someone you trust to support and guide you before that situation arises can make navigating your career a lot less stressful.


Robin Rectenwald

Robin Rectenwald

M.S. IMC 2018
Account Director (a new role!)
BCW

How did you get your start in the Marketing Communications field?

For my first internship, I was the marketing and outreach intern for a Pittsburgh nonprofit called Get Involved, Inc. For my first job, I was an account executive at a small Pittsburgh PR agency which was acquired by WordWrite in 2016.

Who is a woman in the field that inspires you?

There are so many, but one woman I’ve learned so much from is Hollie Geitner, a former co-worker and now mentor. As a member of the Women’s Leadership Council, she’s inspired me to be myself and to get more involved with women leadership groups.

What is your advice to a young, professional woman starting in the field?

Even if you know what your dream job is, don’t say no to other opportunities. My dream was to work in sports, but if I would’ve said no to my first job offer, I would’ve never had such an amazing career in PR.


This year, the theme for IWD is #BreakTheBias.

“Imagine a gender equal world.

A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women's equality.

Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.”

Find more resources: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/


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