When Alex Dickinson, M.A. ’11 took the call on her cell phone from Washington Women in Public Relations in early July and learned that she was a finalist for WWPR’s 2014 Emerging Leaders awards, she was told to keep the news to herself for a few days.
“They scared me at first,” she says. “It really seemed very secretive!”
Not scooping WWPR, a D.C.-based professional organization, was “definitely a challenge.” Her office, the D.C. public affairs firm Beekeeper Group where she is an account director, she says, “is a really open and communicative team.”
But she managed, and a few weeks later, at a July 22 reception, Ms. Dickinson, and fellow alumna Sara Neumann, B.A. ’07, were named two of the three WWPR emerging leaders for 2014. Another GW alumna, Marcia Newbert, B.A. ’10, was also a finalist.
The award honors women aged 23 to 30 who “have made a distinct mark in the communications industry and will indubitably become the next generation of PR leaders,” says Lauren Smith Dyer, president of WWPR and director of communications at the Melanoma Research Foundation. Finalists and awardees, she says, have “become the symbol of outstanding young communications professionals in the D.C.-area.”
Ms. Dickinson studied media and public affairs at GW. “Getting my master’s degree from the School of Media and Public Affairs completely transformed my career trajectory,” she says. One of her professors helped her get her job at Beekeeper Group, she adds.
“Before I started the program, I knew that I loved digital media, but I had no idea how to turn my passion for social networks into something I could do every single day,” Ms. Dickinson says. “In my day-to-day life, skills I learned at GW, like the ability to critically assess a media system and understand the broader context behind digital advocacy efforts, have helped me provide critical strategic communications recommendations for my clients.”
Ms. Neumann, who majored in political communication and minored in journalism at GW and is a senior director at C. Fox Communications, a strategic communications firm in Bethesda, Md., also credits her time in Foggy Bottom with preparing her for her career.
“I’m SMPA through and through,” she says. “The classes offered in the School of Media and Public Affairs were crucial to build a solid communications foundation. My studies also helped make me a competitive applicant for many internship positions I pursued during my undergraduate years.”
During her sophomore year, Ms. Neumann interned on Capitol Hill, and she later cut her teeth at Partnership for Public Service, her first communications experience.
“I learned to build a media list (using old school Bacon’s, of course!), write a press release, and even pitch a reporter!” she says. “I was hooked, and haven’t looked back since.”
She was also recruited to play softball — a game she has played her whole life — at GW, and served as a ball girl for the Washington Nationals for seven seasons, from 2006 to 2012. “This was a great way to reconnect with a game I love,” she says. “It was awesome to see legends play at both RFK and Nationals Park.”
She saw Randy Johnson pitch; Derek Jeter play shortstop; and Big Papi (David Ortiz) “hit his share of home runs,” she says. “I often worked Opening Day and had the chance to see both President Bush and President Obama throw out the first pitch. I loved my role in enhancing the fans’ game-day experience, too.”
The Washington Women in Public Relations celebrates awardees with “potential to contribute to the industry for many years to come, making them truly emerging leaders.” WWPR president Ms. Smith Dyer states, “Sara and Alex personify the excellent work and dedication of a WWPR Emerging Leader.”
Congratulations to Alex, Sara, and Marcia on this impressive accomplishment!