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 Kerry-Ann Hamilton. Photography for the series is by Cade Martinwardrobe 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.

Kerry-Ann, please provide us a short bio.

 I am Vice President at GMMB, an advocacy PR and creative agency in Georgetown. I specialize in branding, media relations and reputational management. My clients work on a variety of issues, from education to global health and a host of others in between. Prior to GMMB, I worked in higher education as a senior communications executive. I grew up in Jamaica and moved to D.C. in 1999, but I feel at home anywhere in the world. I am a nature lover, a travel enthusiast and a photographer.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

I am chair of the Board of Directors for Girls Inc. of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Girls Inc., a chapter of a national organization dedicated to inspiring and equipping girls to be strong, smart and bold. We know that less than 10 percent of girls study engineering and less than three percent of corporate board members are female. Through our research-based curriculum, we focus both on giving the girls we serve technical competencies in the STEM areas as well as the tools and confidence needed to put that knowledge to good use. I am also a mentor with Generation Hope which is devoted to providing direct sponsorships and one-on-one mentoring opportunities to teen parents who are attending college in the Washington metro area.

What are the things you are most proud of?

I am really proud of how my personal values align with my professional and civic work and how the assorted tough challenges and opportunities that have colored my career path have strengthened me and made me eager to deploy what I have learned in the service of creating real and lasting change in the world.

Who are your personal role models?

I have been fortunate to have many people who have inspired me and whom I have sought to emulate. In some cases, the mistakes of others have been a source of guidance. As a young communicator, I was inspired by two highly respected journalists. WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi was my first boss when he was host of Evening Exchange, a flagship current-affairs news program on WHUT-TV, a PBS affiliate owned by Howard University. On my first day on his staff, I was writing scripts and researching stories for the reporters’ roundtable. I was just shy of 20 years old and still a green journalist. I learned about the perpetual value of preparation, the endless quest for excellence and the inevitable necessity for true hard work. My dream opportunity as an undergraduate was to work with the late host of NBC’s Meet the Press, Tim Russert. Once I earned that chance, I found the experience was transformative. I saw dedication and a tireless commitment to the truth up close. I learned that attaining a mastery at asking tough questions, as Tim did, need not diminish a professional commitment to civility and dignity.

Did these role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

After my assignment with the Associated Press in Trinidad and Tobago, I left journalism for a career as a communications and marketing professional at Howard University. It was there that I met many powerful women who impressed upon me the importance of rigorous preparation and the importance of leaning in – finding one’s voice – long before it was in vogue.

What professional advice do you have for others?

The best advice I can offer is to find your true passion. It is not cliché. Highly competent people can do just about anything they put their minds to. The question is where can an individual make the best and highest impact? While passion is important, persistence is less flashy but even more important.

What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?

Global Fusion –  Beres Hammond, Dave Matthews, Enya, Machel Montano, Melissa Etheridge, Hugh Masekela and Lizz Wright.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

It is tough to name a single favorite, but my top five include, Busboys and Poets, Doi Moi, Founding Farmers, Blue Duck and Due South.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

As an island girl, I am totally at my best wherever there is water – whether it’s kayaking on Cape Cod, snorkeling in Belize’s Blue Hole, salmon fishing in Alaska or swimming in a cool lake on a hot summer day.

My passport and camera are my most prized possessions. I started my fourth passport at age 32. I love photography, particularly travel photography. I have a wide assortment of Nikon bodies and lenses depending on my needs and the subject – the 85 mm for portraits, my 18-200 which gives me a view of breathtaking landscapes and my 400 mm, which allows me to capture one of my favorite fauna, the elusive humming bird.

And, finally, my ideal day begins with a rigorous work out and ends with watching NBC Nightly News – thankfully it is now on-demand as I am rarely home at 7 p.m. for the live broadcast. If I get some time to journal and read before bed, I have truly had a wonderful day.

 

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