Suzanne Deatherage
35th Anniversary Q&A

Suzanne DeatherageSuzanneDeatherage
Assistant Agency Director
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
BVIABC Past President, 1991-92

“The international district support and leadership development conferences were great. Our supervisors received recognition letters from international when we won chapter management awards. BVIABC provided beneficial networking for those of us in the early career stage.” –Suzanne Deatherage

Question: When and why did you join or start participating in IABC? How did you become involved in the local chapter?

Answer: I joined early on as a local-only member (associate may have been the term) and served on the committee for what I recall was the first Brazos Bravo awards program. I had a gap in membership when the local-only option was eliminated and rejoined about 1989. Later, I paid into the “500 club” for a lifetime IABC membership.

Q: Have you held a leadership position with BVIABC? If so, which one(s) and when?

A: I served as a board member in a couple of chair positions, including Brazos Bravo and as Vice president under Deborah Seidel. I wrote the chapter management entries for our chapter’s work under her presidency when we won International Chapter of the Year. We had previously won Small Chapter of the Year.

I was President in 1991-92, the year that we celebrated our chapter’s 10 anniversary at Messina Hof Winery. We were not eligible to re-enter the chapter management awards program, as it was our duty as International Chapter of the Year to serve as judging chapter.

Rhonda Snider followed me as president, I believe. Exa York was president when we celebrated our 20th anniversary at the former College Station Community Center.

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: Definitely positive! The international district support and leadership development conferences were great. Our supervisors received recognition letters from international when we won chapter management awards. BVIABC provided beneficial networking for those of us in the early career stage.

Q: My research indicates that the Brazos Valley chapter started in 1981. Were you involved in the founding of our chapter? If so, what would you say was the catalyst for forming an IABC chapter locally?

A: No, I wasn’t involved in the founding. People involved included David Jones, Laura Nowlin, and Bernie Fette. Also, Bob Bilberry at Newman Printing and Jack Gresset at AdMail were early supporters. Nancy Sawtelle and Ann Cole were presidents early on, as well. Nancy served as a two-term president when we changed our membership/fiscal year to align with international. I believe the founders looked at PRSA also, with a motive to establish a local professional development and networking group for communicators.

Q: What can you tell me about the early days of our chapter, or from the time when you first started participating? Who were some of the other members that were involved at the time you started participating?

A: Many early members have moved on. At our 10th anniversary, we acknowledged past presidents to-date at that time. (Unfortunately, there was a typo in the framed certificate!)

Q: Are you a member of other professional organizations, and if so, do you mind sharing which ones?

A: No, not independent groups. My other memberships pertain to state, regional and national groups affiliated with my employer and our national system. Subscriptions include Ragan Communications and Wylie’s Writing Tips.

Q: Why IABC? What was it about IABC that made you decide to join?

A: It was the only option at the time with a local chapter and because of its orientation to business versus higher education communications.

Q: Would you share why you left the organization and how long you were a member? Do you miss being involved in the chapter? Have you continued participating in IABC as a member of a different chapter or as a non-member?

A: I’ve participated on occasion as a non-chapter member. (I’m still an IABC member.) The focus of my job has changed—more administrative—and I know few current IABC members. My most recurring role lately has been as an awards competition judge and I would be glad to continue that.

Q: Would you share what your job is and why you love what you do? What draws you to communication as a profession?

A: I’m an assistant agency director now. I always loved conducting communications training for our employees and planning communications campaigns (also known as education outreach in my agency, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service).

Q: What is one thing that you wish you’d known when you were starting out in your career?

A: It’s hard to say what I would have done with what I have come to know. It’s a constant challenge in my world to establish and sustain understanding about the value of strategic communications and communication competencies.

–January 2016