Capitol Communicator is running a series featuring profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this “up close and personal” profile, we feature Jennifer Wayman. 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.
Jennifer, please provide us a short bio.
I started my career with Adams & Rinehart (now Ogilvy Public Relations) working in financial communications and investor relations in New York. After a couple of years, I transferred to Washington, D.C., where I discovered the world of social marketing – influencing behaviors for good – and never looked back. At the time, Ogilvy was working with CDC on the America Responds to AIDS initiative and I was amazed that it was possible to work in a creative agency and put marketing and communications skills to work in support of social causes. I spent 24 years at Ogilvy building the agency’s social change practice and supporting numerous national initiatives to help people live healthier, safer and more secure lives. Along the way, I got my masters degree from Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. I recently joined Hager Sharp as president and CEO, where I’m leading a very talented team of mission-driven professionals focused on making a positive difference in health, education and community transformation.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
I’m a proud board member of the International Social Marketing Association, a nonprofit whose purpose is to facilitate the diffusion and adoption of social marketing as an approach to planned social change. I’m also on the planning committee for the World Social Marketing Conference, which takes place every other year and will be happening in Washington, D.C., in 2017.
What are the things you are most proud of?
Definitely my family. I have four amazing kids who are kind, curious and ambitious and a wonderful husband who provides more than his share of support around home.
I’m also extremely proud of the national campaigns and initiatives I’ve had the honor of developing and supporting that have helped to put critical health topics like women’s heart health, colorectal cancer and breast cancer on the national agenda. In particular, The Heart Truth campaign for women about heart disease is a professional highlight, and I’ll be forever grateful for the many colleagues and clients who collaborated so well to make that effort so successful.
Who are your personal role models?
I’ve had too many to count. My grandmother, who got a college degree before many women even considered it and built a successful career as a radio talk show host and with General Electric. My mother, who taught high school English for 30 years and set me on a path towards communications. My father, who started his own business when I was less than a year old and showed me the power of believing in yourself and setting ambitious goals. And countless colleagues, who took the time to mentor me, teach me, empower me and challenge me.
Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
The best advice I ever had was to “find my voice.” Most people who know me now would find it hard to believe, but early in my career I was always quiet in meetings. I’d be too unsure of myself to speak up for fear of saying something silly. A colleague noticed my silence, pulled me aside and challenged me to set a goal of contributing one idea in the next meeting, then two ideas in the meeting after that, and so on. As I embraced the challenge, I quickly gained confidence and realized that I have just as much to contribute as everyone else.
What professional advice do you have for others?
Be a sponge and soak up all of the knowledge you can about the agency business, the communications environment, and your client’s business. And, take risks. The best ideas, the ones that break through and get noticed, almost always have an element of risk to them.
What advice do you have on what’s appropriate attire for Hager Sharp?
Casual professional. If you’d wear it to run errands on a Saturday morning or to a club on Saturday night, or if you’d panic if a client showed up unexpectedly, it’s probably not right for the office. The one exception is Hager Sharp day, our anniversary celebration, where just about anything goes.
Where do you buy most of the clothes you wear to the office?
Macy’s is usually my go-to spot. They have it all, and I don’t have the time to go from store to store.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I love living in D.C., but I’m a New Yorker by birth and a piece of my heart will always be there.
What, specifically, do you miss about New York?
Really good bagels, pizza, the energy of NYC and easy access to the beach!
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