From time to time we track down a member of the Lincoln IABC chapter and ask a few questions so you can get to know them better. This month we talked with Susan Hartmann, IABC Lincoln board member who works with the membership recruitment team.
IABC: Who is your current employer? What is the principal business of your company?
Susan: I work at Vision Maker Media, part of a national minority consortia that receives funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. We’re located in the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET) building on North 33rd Street. Our mission is to empower and engage Native People to tell stories. We envision a world changed and healed by understanding Native stories and the public conversations they generate.
Vision Maker Media exists to serve Native producers and Indian country in partnership with public television and radio. We work with Native producers to develop, produce and distribute educational telecommunications programs for all media including public television and public radio. We also support training to increase the number of American Indians and Alaska Natives producing quality public broadcasting programs, which includes advocacy efforts promoting increased control and use of information technologies and the policies to support this control by American Indians and Alaska Natives.
IABC: What is your job title?
Susan: My title is director of communications.
IABC: Why did you join IABC?
I first joined IABC early in my career after my supervisor (Diana King) at Tabitha Health Care invited me as her guest to a monthly meeting. Afterwards, she encouraged me to join a professional organization in order to gain more confidence and to further my professional career. She spoke highly of IABC and encouraged me to join. I did, and was a member for 13 years until I switched careers to go back to teaching high school journalism and English. But I came back after I became disillusioned with the changes in the teaching profession.
IABC: What area of communication are you most passionate about and why?
Susan: In graduate school I focused on several areas, including public relations and marketing. I am a strong believer in the ideas presented by James Grunig in his book Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management. In fact, the IABC Research Foundation supported his work. I’ve used Grunig’s ideas as part of my communication strategies at work.
When I first read Grunig’s book I wanted to shout his praises to the world, because his ideas make sense not only for communicators but for organizations as a whole. His views on what makes an organization effective and how communication managers can apply the theories of excellence and effectiveness still ring true. I believe he hits the mark.
IABC: In what area of communication do you have the most experience and skill?
Susan: In every position I have honed different skills – writing, editing, graphic design, social media, public relations, marketing. I have the most experience in writing and editing, since I taught writing and editing for eight years and served as a writer/editor for a variety of internal publications. I also have experience in graphic design and desktop publishing. In several positions I served as a photographer, and I taught photojournalism to high school students for three years. I worked in four state agencies, serving as a Public Information Officer II in two of those agencies. In my current position I do more with social media strategy, e-mail marketing and website maintenance.
IABC: What do you like to do for fun?
Susan: I enjoy reading, gardening and photography. I like making my yard bloom in the spring and summer months and growing vegetables we can eat.
IABC: Tell us about your family.
Susan: Tom is my husband. I have two grown children. Michael lives in Hemingford, Neb., with his wife and three kids. Sara is working on her master’s degree in early childhood education and working full time at Fingerprints Child Care in Lincoln.
IABC: How long have you lived in the Lincoln area?
Susan: I moved to Lincoln four years ago from Firth, just 20 miles south of Lincoln. My children attended Norris Schools. I commuted to Lincoln for more than 20 years. After my children graduated I decided to move to Lincoln and save gas.
IABC: Is there anything else you’d like the IABC membership to know about you?
When I left my communications career to go back to teaching, I missed my IABC connections. Teaching was all-consuming and left little time to make connections outside of school. After I left teaching, one of the first things I did was to begin reconnecting with IABC members. It is one of the best ways to learn and network, no matter where you are in your career.