Capitol Communicator is running a series featuring an in-depth look at communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this “Up Close and Personal” profile, we feature Angy Peterson. Photography for the series is by Cade Martin, wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire and Sybil Street for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson, Janice Kinigopoulos and Lori Pressman for THE Artist Agency.
Angy, please provide us a short bio.
I’ve always been drawn to the way people interact with news and information. These days, we generally refer to that as “user experience” and “user interface,” but we didn’t always apply those terms to news and information. Back then it was just “look and feel,” classic graphic design, and the medium generally dictated the experience and interface. When I went to the University of Iowa to double major in history and journalism, you picked a medium to specialize in: print, radio, broadcast. We didn’t think of broad multimedia content delivery the way we do today. I grew up in Des Moines, with a hometown newspaper that was always considered among the best in the nation, so I pursued print. I later went to Temple University and got my Master of Journalism focused on visuals. I worked in news delivery for 14 years, including daily and weekly newspapers and monthly trade magazines, and eventually moved into managing web design, video production, and mobile design products and projects. I earned my UX certification in 2014 and have really been focused on digital content delivery ever since. So much of what we enjoy these days traces its roots to newspapers and magazines. I joined GMMB as the SVP for Digital Strategy & Content in 2016, and lead a great team of developers, designers and digital thinkers who are pondering the same questions that my news design teams were pondering. The lines have fully blurred.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
Outside of work, I’ve been trying to focus on my family and my neighborhood. I just joined the board of our HOA, and I try to get to my daughters’ grade school a couple of times a month to lend a hand. It can be hard to work in the city, with a commute and odd hours, and still be connected to those personal things that really drive us, so I’ve been trying to find a nice work/life balance.
What are the things you are most proud of?
The things I’m the most proud of are 8- and 10-years old and call me Mommy. Usually it’s more like “Mommmm-meee” yelled from across the house. My daughters are the center of my world. They’re my little ninja SEAL team — both are amazing swimmers and martial artists on track to earn black belts in taekwondo before they reach junior high. Then they’re switching to jiu-jitsu. They give me a reason to be my best self every day. How can I expect big things from them if I’m not working hard, too?
Who are your personal role models?
My mother is a tireless worker, with boundless energy, always pushing through to the next meal that needs to be cooked, room that needs to be cleaned, garden that needs to be tended, plus work, family, friends and volunteering at her church or the local convent. Women rarely had leadership roles in the newsrooms I worked in, and even fewer were also raising children. So, I often consider my mom’s approach to life and try to give everything my full energy in the moment. Full steam at work, full steam at home, full steam at life.
Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
Be authentic. Be true to yourself. My mentor in graduate school, Dr. Edward Trayes, is a kind-hearted man with passions for storytelling and sailing. He teaches photojournalism and editing full-time, runs a prestigious national internship program for copy editing, is a devoted father and husband, and always saves a chunk of his summer to sail around Martha’s Vineyard. That’s a full life.
What professional advice do you have for others?
Trust your gut. There are some things you just can’t teach. You have to feel them. And, too often, people know the truth but they are unwilling to admit it to themselves. Maybe your boss isn’t hearing you. Maybe your job isn’t going where you want. Maybe the people around you are utterly convinced of a direction or a decision, but everything about it makes your insides tumble. Listen to those feelings. Push back. It’s rare that I’ve pushed back on a direction that my opinion wasn’t heard. Plus, just because a decision is right for the business or right for the company doesn’t mean it’s right for you. There’s nothing worse than having to live with a bad decision your subconscious was screaming at you to avoid.
What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?
Actually, I have been all about podcasts lately. I find them oddly soothing when I’m commuting to the ‘burbs every day. The “Missing Richard Simmons” podcast is pure gold, as is the “Dear Sugar” advice line from Cheryl Strayed (author of “Wild”) and Steve Almond. I feel like I’m roadtripping with friends. But I still love Beyonce.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
I’m a pretty strict vegetarian, practically vegan, so I look for options with flexible menus. When we’re short on time, I love Sweetgreen and Chipotle. For a fancy Friday night out, I love the raw vegan experience at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw on L Street. The kale chips are fantastic.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
We should probably get this out of the way now in case you meet me in person. I’m six feet tall in my bare feet, which makes me seem 11-foot-5 in heels. It throws some people off. You should know that tall people put on their very long pants one leg at a time, just like the everyone else.