Capitol Communicator is running a series featuring profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this “up close and personal” profile, we feature Frank Scanlan. Photography for the “up close and personal” series is by Cade Martin; wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulos for THE Artist Agency.
Frank, please provide us a short bio.
I have been a communications professional for more than 20 years and have worked as a journalist in both television and radio. After leaving journalism, I worked on Capitol Hill for U.S. Senator Tim Johnson and, after leaving the Hill, directed the corporate communications function for the Society for Human Resource Management. Currently, I am the managing director of strategic communications and content for the American Institute of Architects.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
I’m involved with a group called the Heather Abbott Foundation. I helped co-found it, and I’m its current CEO. Heather Abbott is a friend who was one of 17 people who suffered traumatic limb loss during the Boston Marathon bombing. Together with a few close friends, we started this foundation to help amputees who have experienced traumatic limb loss purchase specialized prosthetic devices —which are usually not covered by insurance.
We just helped a young woman purchase a device that allows her to wear high heels. Very soon we’ll be helping an eight-year-old child purchase a device that will allow her to ride her bike and play soccer again.
What are the things you are most proud of?
Well, I’m biased, but I have pretty amazing kids. I’m very proud of both of them. They keep me grounded, and they help me maintain that sense of wonder about the world.
Professionally speaking, it’s the Heather Abbott Foundation. I started the conversation with Heather more than a year ago saying, “none of us have any idea how to do this, but together I know we can figure this out.” And we did. It’s a young foundation, but I’ve learned so much, and the outpouring of support has been nothing short of amazing.
Who are your personal role models?
I am blessed to have really great parents. They were wonderful role models growing up — and they still are. They instilled in me a strong work ethic and sense of family. They provided me the fundamental values and ethics through which I filter every decision in my life.
Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
Always do your homework. Always know your options. Never be afraid to make a decision based on the information and options before you.
What professional advice do you have for others?
It’s similar to what I already said: Do your homework. You don’t always have to be the smartest person in the room, but you have to know the issue. There’s no excuse. (For me, this is an ongoing journey.)
Be genuine and authentic. Anything less, you’re not be being true to yourself.
And, stay calm. Nothing good can come from a frenetic mind in a difficult situation. It’s your job to be the calm, rational voice of reason.
What advice do you have on what’s appropriate attire for your organization?
As communication professionals, we all know that the nonverbals are extremely powerful. So be meticulous about your appearance. Dress professionally. Right or wrong, others judge your ability simply by your look. Don’t give them reason to make the wrong assumption.
Where do you buy most of the clothes you wear to the office?
I shop at several men’s clothiers. My beautiful wife has a great eye though, so she has an influential voice in what I buy and wear.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I’m firm believer that you have to throw yourself into your work—but it can’t consume your life. That’s not good for anyone. So I try to stay active in lots of things. For example, I’m slowly hiking the Appalachian Trail with a close friend. I’ve always loved the outdoors. It’s a great way to disconnect, and it’s very different from anything else in my life right now.