Capitol Communicator is running a series featuring an in-depth look at communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this “Up Close and Personal” post we feature Lauren Smith Dyer, past president of Washington Women in Public Relations and communications director for the Melanoma Research Foundation. Photography by Cade Martin; wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulosfor THE Artist Agency.
Lauren, please provide us with a short bio.
I’m director of communications for the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), the largest independent nonprofit dedicated to melanoma, and past president of Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR). Prior to joining the MRF, I worked as an account director with JPA Health Communications and, earlier in my career, I supported a Fortune 50 biopharmaceutical company as it incorporated health-reform provisions into its operations. I’m a native Washingtonian and a graduate from Fordham University.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
In addition to WWPR, I’m involved with the Fordham University Alumni Group of Washington, D.C.
What are the things you are most proud of?
Being faced with a challenge that forces me outside my comfort zone is a great way to test my skills and character. I’m proud I’ve been able to apply my skills to establish a public relations/communications department from scratch for the largest, independent nonprofit dedicated to melanoma in the world. I’m proud of the work I do and privileged to be able to apply my love of public relations to making a difference.
Who were your personal role models?
My personal and professional role models overlap, likely because the lessons I’ve learned and applied to my career are applicable to my personal life and vice versa.
My personal role models are my parents. They are the most disciplined, hard-working and thoughtful people I’ve ever encountered. They are, to me, the definition of “success” – in life, career and love. They work tirelessly and still manage to end their day with a laugh.
My professional role model is Kori Bernards, senior vice president of global communications at Universal Pictures. Kori is sharp, skilled and strategic. She is kind-hearted, thoughtful and inspiring. Kori’s career path is beyond impressive – from her work on the Hill to the MPAA to Universal Pictures – and I’ve appreciated the opportunity to work closely and establish a great relationship with her.
Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
My parents have always advised me to aim for the sky, never give up and never lose sight of my potential. Kori encourages me to accept the inevitable challenges that come with this industry, but remember to work hard and have fun. Her closing message during WWPR’s 2013 Emerging Leaders Awards keynote is my mantra: “dream big, revise often”.
What professional advice do you have for others?
Here are three for people to consider:
First, be honest and maintain integrity. At the end of the day, you need to feel good about what you do and who you are, and that means respecting yourself and your peers. I’d rather give it my best and finish second, than come in first at another’s expense;
Second, find a mentor or mentee. Mentorship is important for career development and character growth. You might feel like you’re in a good place in your career, but the person next to you might feel isolated. Investing a little time and energy into her or him will have a lasting effect; and,
Third, don’t forget to laugh. The Board table might not be the place for jokes, but a little lighthearted humor and attitude can make an incredible impact and build trust.
What advice do you have on what’s appropriate attire in business?
If there is any smidgeon of doubt whether or not your outfit is appropriate for the office, don’t wear it. Go with your gut and don’t risk jeopardizing your professionalism by trying to tackle the next fashion trend if it teeters on the acceptable for office attire.
Where do you buy most of the clothes you wear to the office?
Saks, Lord & Taylor and TJ Maxx – but not always in that order!
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I love to travel and hope to visit every country. My husband and I love visiting the little “hole in the wall” restaurants when we travel internationally – it’s a great way to learn the local secrets, meet nice people and try great local food.