Jennie L. Lamb
35th Anniversary Q&A
“IABC has always been for me the thing that grounds my faith in communication best practices, and allows me to explore parts of the profession I’d never have had the opportunity to otherwise. It has also allowed me to cross paths with some of the most amazing people that I now call mentors, colleagues, and—most importantly—friends.” –Jennie L. Lamb
Question: When and why did you join or start participating in IABC? How did you become involved in the local chapter?
Answer: In the spring of 2008, Angela Clendenin encouraged our department to enter some of the work we had collaborated on with her in the local Bronze Quill Awards (then locally branded as “Brazos Bravo”). We went to a workshop about how to prepare award entries and I not only entered that year, but I also decided I wanted to become a member, and eventually, the awards chair!
It took me two more years to figure out how to make a membership happen (in 2010), but within another year, I had joined the board as awards chair (in 2011).
Q: Have you held a leadership position with BVIABC? If so, which one(s) and when?
A: Yes—BVIABC Awards Chair, 2011-2014; BVIABC VP of Finance, 2013–15; IABC/Southern Region Silver Quill Co-Chair, 2013; BVIABC President-Elect, 2014–15, and BVIABC President, 2015–17.
Q: Please share any stories or comments about your service to our chapter. Was it a positive experience? Do you feel it has helped your career? Would you recommend it to others?
A: I attended a break-out session about chapter finances at the 2013 IABC Leadership Institute (LI) and that’s when I took my first big IABC leap—I decided to take on the role of VP of Finance for our chapter. Prior to that, I had adamantly refused, stating that I shouldn’t even be allowed near the money, as “budgeting” and “fiscal responsibility” were things not normally associated with me.
But, IABC membership can do that for you. It can help you learn about and excel at things you would never have had an opportunity to explore if you hadn’t felt supported enough to try. My two years in the VP of Finance role have been the most rewarding of my IABC membership so far. It makes a certain kind of sense—I’m motivated by tangible results and finding a “bottom line.” I’d just never applied that to fiscal matters before. Plus, I’ve been able to apply some of the skills I developed in that role in other areas of my life.
I wouldn’t be working so hard to keep our chapter not only alive and back on its way to thriving right now if I couldn’t recommend it!
Q: What can you tell me about the time when you first started participating? Who were some of the other members that were involved at the time you started participating?
A: It’s no secret that IABC, our chapter included, has been experiencing a rough patch for several years. I’m confident, however, that it’s turning around. I’ve seen so much change for the better in the last two to three years—especially on the international level.
When I joined BVIABC, people like Pam Wiley, Nicholas Roznovsky, Kelli Levey, Lesley Kriewald, Megan Kasperbauer, Donna Malak, Marie Lindley, Blair Williamson and Rachel Dohmann were active and were wonderful role models for me.
I stepped into the president’s role at a time when for several previous board terms our main objective had been to just keep the chapter afloat. Those were admirable goals that I supported and I’m glad we were able to maintain a status quo. However, when I became president I did so with the idea that we needed to go big or go home—we either needed to make some serious strides forward or we needed to consider going inactive or dissolving the chapter.
I’m happy to say that after eight months in the chair, my outlook is not nearly so bleak. We’ve still got a long way to go, but I think we are regaining momentum with our revamping of the chapter’s communication strategies (spurred by the IABC rebranding initiative), and the additions of Chase Friedman and Courtney Bosquez to the board.
Q: Why IABC? What is it about IABC that has kept you a member?
A: At the board retreat in 2011, Pam asked us to come up with a goal or a touchstone for our leadership that year that was about us personally—not about the chapter. For me, it was and continues to be that IABC is the one consistently pleasant, happy and uplifting thing about my career. There will always be hard-to-handle clients and office politics that, at times, can make you not want to go to work, make you want to find new work, or make you want to find a whole new profession. But, IABC has always been for me the thing that grounds my faith in communication best practices, and that allows me to explore parts of the profession I’d never have had the opportunity to otherwise. It has also allowed me to cross paths with some of the most amazing people that I now call mentors, colleagues, and—most importantly—friends. Sure, the professional development is cool, but the people I can call on to understand me when I need to commiserate about something work-related are why I care so much about the organization.
Q: What’s the one thing you’d change about IABC if you could?
A: I’d change the negative perception that people have about the organization because of the rough times it’s gone through. I’d change the ideas that keep a majority of younger communicators from realizing the benefits of belonging to such a professional organization. And, I wish people better understood that IABC is like everything else in life—what you get out of it is, for the most part, directly proportional to what you’re willing to put into it.
Q: Would you share what your job is and why you love what you do? What draws you to communication as a profession?
A: For almost 20 years I’ve been a graphic designer/communicator who has primarily supported science in higher education by day, and social/political causes I’m passionate about by night. I enjoy designing and communicating around complex subject matters in the hopes that I will help people better understand the issue at stake and then take action—either by contributing financially or pledging their influence to support a project or cause.
Oh, and I love brand guides! While most of my design peers would prefer to have no constraints on their creativity, I relish the challenge inherent in coming up with new and fresh ways to communicate while staying loyal to a brand. Consistency is not a buzz-kill for me–it’s an opportunity.
Q: What is one thing that you wish you’d known when you were starting out in your career?
A: It’s okay to be ambitious—no matter where you are in the hierarchy of your organization. And, it’s going to continue to be okay if that ambition helps you, even if it costs you some of your workplace friendships at the same time.
Also, it’s okay to fail. Not only is it inevitable, it’s just not something to be afraid of. Mistakes can usually be fixed and you aren’t going to grow very much without making them at least occasionally.