Lori HowellWhy did you decide to pursue the Strategic Communication program?

I was traveling on business and a colleague asked, “So, Lori, when are you going to graduate school?” I was startled but interested. She went on to explain how further education could expand the work I was doing for nonprofits, enable me to help others, and increase my salary.

I immediately went home and did what I had been procrastinating for two decades: I enrolled in one class. Even though the timing had never seemed right for me before (with two kids and a job), I was hooked.

What are you doing now?

I provide communications, marketing strategy and a bit of armchair psychotherapy for people and organizations hell-bent on changing the world: Most recently I’ve worked for: Conscious Capitalism, Nike SB&I, Jackson Middle School, and Portland Parks and Recreation/Spring Garden Park. Most people have no idea what strategic communication is and I’m working to set that straight (or maybe help rename the program). Editorial update: Lori is currently in her dream job as a communications specialist for Intel. 

How did this program prepare you for this career?

First, the program helped beef up my presentation and research abilities to help me feel prepared no matter when or where I meet prospective clients. The program also connected me with the coolest people in Portland, which led to some of my favorite projects. My fellow students are some of the brightest in our field and I’m lucky to be a part of this professional network.

How has the program influenced your career goals and/or path?

The program provided a lab to experiment with what I like (strategic planning) and dislike (InDesign). It put my career on a trajectory that suits me well. For the past two years I have had the pleasure of running a business. This is a step I hadn’t had the confidence to tackle in the past, but now I can practice work/life balance everyday.

What’s your favorite class in the program?

I adored the leadership course where we took a deep dive into our strengths. We learned to look for career opportunities that offer a chance for us to use our strongest abilities on a daily basis; it makes work feel like pleasure. My particular strengths are Empathy, Achiever, Connectedness, Belief, and Restorative.

What are some of the class projects you worked on? 

Children's Book Bank Children’s Book Bank
Communications Campaign
VP of Advertising
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AtoZ Wineworks A to Z Wineworks
Integrated Marketing Communications Plan
Project Lead
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Wild Time Portland Parks and Recreation, Wild Time
Independent Terminal Project
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What advice do you have for students considering this program?

Take one class, such as Mass Comm and Society. It will help you determine if the culture and content are for you, you’ll find out if the logistics work in your schedule, and you’ll get a good sense of whether it lights you up.

Get a list and talk to several alumni in order to get a sense of their experience and what the program has done to contribute to their ongoing work. Ask them what’s different as a result of participating in this program. You can start with me: lori-howell@comcast.net.