Member Spotlight - February 2016


What do you currently do for a living? I am the Assistant Vice President of Communications and Legislative Affairs for the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, a quasi-state agency that provides wind and hail coverage for Texans along the coast who are unable to obtain this coverage in the private market. I’m responsible for the Association’s overall strategic direction in communications, public relations, and governmental affairs.

What did you want to be growing up? As a child, I wanted to be either a Supreme Court Justice or a spy, or ideally, some combination of the two, but it’s a tough industry to break into.

What motivated you to pursue a career in the communications industry? When researching colleges, the University of South Alabama had what was, at the time, one of the only Sport & Event Marketing programs in the country. As an athlete growing up (and an athlete unlikely to make any money as an adult), I was instantly drawn to the program. For me, the appeal of marketing and communications has always been finding the win-win for you and your audience – creating a story that inspires people to adopt it as their own. It’s a constant challenge, but one that I enjoy immensely.

Where are you from? Where have you lived? I’m originally from Florence, Alabama – part of an area known for great blues, as seen in the recent documentary, Muscle Shoals. I’ve also lived near the Gulf Coast in Mobile, Alabama and in the wonderful city of Atlanta before moving to Austin where I’ve been for almost 8 years now.

What college(s) did you attend? I attended the University of South Alabama, which is where I was introduced to the insurance industry as a part-time college job and really found my niche.

What was your first job in PR/communications? My first communications job was as Marketing Manager for the Atlanta-area restaurants of a national chain. My primary role was Community Relations, and the experience I gained there continues to help me today – it’s all about building and maintaining relationships.

What is your best piece of advice to your fellow PR practitioners? Know what’s important to your audience. It doesn’t matter how good your story is, if you can’t make it relevant to them on a personal level, it won’t stick. Keeping this in mind has really helped me to effectively communicate with a wide variety of stakeholders - from individual policyholders and agents on the coast, to members of the media, to members of the state legislature.

What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies/interests outside of work? I was an avid dancer growing up and still love attending the ballet, but music is my passion. I love going to see live music shows and festivals here in Austin and around the country.

What is one of your favorite quotes? “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

What is the best part about your job? My early experience in insurance while in college really taught me how much good an insurance company can do. After natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, or Hurricane Ike here in Texas, insurance companies play a pivotal role in helping people reestablish their lives. Helping people when they need it most is amazingly rewarding and definitely the best part of my job.