Welcome to the Catalyst Member Spotlight series. Catalyst prioritizes sharing members’ stories to showcase the breadth of the IABC community, connect communicators across the globe and elevate personal stories to inspire fellow members. If you’re a chapter leader who would like to spotlight a stand-out member of your chapter, email the Catalyst editors at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Meet IABC member Jenny Doren! After spending nine years in communications as a TV reporter, Jenny has spent the last five years as a communications leader at UT Southwestern Medical Center, where she currently serves as associate vice president of health system administration and communications.
In this Q&A, Jenny shares her passion for her career and insights into successful, cross-functional projects she’s led throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more and connect with Jenny on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
What is the most exciting aspect of your role as a communicator?
My team has an informal motto that guides our daily work: “Inform. Engage. Delight.” Those three verbs encapsulate what excites me most about being a communicator. I get to think creatively every day about how to build a sense of community and share a mix of need-to-know and nice-to-know information with the more than 20,000 members of our academic medical center. That information sharing takes the shape of executive communications, video series, animations, podcasts, social media, photo galleries and more. My creative wheels are constantly in motion. I love being in this role and working for an institution where my counterparts appreciate innovation in communications and give me the freedom to put my ideas to the test for internal and external audiences.
Share a situation or project that made you feel valued as a communicator.
Since April 2020, I have been moderating a Q&A portion of our president’s all-campus briefing. It started as a way to share rapidly evolving information about our COVID-19 response and address questions from our faculty, staff and students. I am able to tap my experience as a former reporter with the knowledge I have from leading health system communications and serving on the emergency operations committee to connect with the campus. My role has afforded me the opportunity to make sure our colleagues feel recognized, valued and heard. The positive feedback has been humbling, and I am deeply honored to be in a position to build engagement with our executive leadership.
Think back on a time when you, as a communicator, collaborated with another department to bring a project to life. What made this process successful?
Teamwork and strategy. It takes great people with a vision and plan to execute on it to be successful. For me, I think about the strong collaboration behind UT Southwestern’s “What to Know” video series, which I co-produce with our head of marketing. When COVID-19 first hit North Texas, we created a program where our specialists on the front lines, as well as our researchers working toward new discoveries and treatments, could keep the public informed of their findings in real time. We are now more than 50 episodes past our first recording.
It is one of my favorite projects because of the dedication we all share for its success. Each member — host, executive producer, technical director and videographer — has a defined role and clear expectations, and we provide each other with consistent feedback to make our episodes reach the largest audience and have the highest impact. If you want to achieve —better yet, exceed — your goals, you need to work together to accomplish them, challenge yourselves to always do better and celebrate each win.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Christiane Amanpour was my undergraduate commencement speaker at the University of Michigan. I had the good fortune of spending some time with her one-on-one before her address. She spoke about purpose. She also stressed the important role and responsibility we have as communicators to be trusted sources. What struck me the most was her emphasis on finding a career you love. This portion of her speech continues to motivate me:
“As I look out at you, my most fervent hope for you is that you find something that sets you on fire, that gives you passion and joy, something that you love and believe in so much that it makes you want to work all day and all night, something that will make you willing to sacrifice, something that instills in you a deep sense of commitment and a sense of mission...”
I truly believe that if your work doesn’t fuel you, you should find something that does.
Share a favorite resource that helps you stay connected and informed in the industry.
The radio program has been around for decades, but I just recently started downloading episodes of the “This American Life” podcast. I really appreciate the focus on everyday people. Episodes span a myriad of themes and topics, which is good for me since I’m curious about everything. I spend a considerable amount of time writing and find inspiration in high quality, creative storytelling.
Interested in joining the IABC community with people like Jenny? Member Month is here! Use the code IABC21 to save 20% on international dues when you renew your membership or join IABC through 12 November.
IABC Staff, Featuring Jenny Doren