This month’s Member Spotlight interview features WWPR member Tahira L. Christmon of Goodwill Industries International/WWPR Emerging Leaders Awards Committee member.
How did you get started in communications?
My elementary school had a morning telecast that aired all of our school announcements from a makeshift television studio. In the fourth grade I began volunteering as a camerawoman and producing anchor scripts. The following year I became the lead anchor. In middle school I wrote feature and news articles for a weekly online publication that centered around educating children and teens on U.S. and world news.
Communicating and telling compelling stories have always come natural to me. I continued my interest in broadcast journalism at Syracuse University and interned at nearly every local and major news station this side of the Mason Dixon. When I graduated, I was offered a job at the NBC News Washington bureau as an assignment desk assistant and field producer for “Nightly News with Brian Williams.” I went on to do general assignment and beat reporting with Verizon FiOs 1 and CTV News, a local news network in Maryland.
Ironically, I lost interest in journalism within a few years and became really interested in building a career in public relations. I wanted to focus on nonprofit PR because I wanted to tell the compelling human interest stories that rise out of philanthropy and social enterprise. I landed a job at Goodwill Industries International in their PR department and realized that I had instantly found my dream job. Not only am I doing what I love, but I’m serving as a voice for individuals and families facing disabilities and disadvantages.
What inspired you to get involved in WWPR?
I had my job at Goodwill® for less than three weeks before my supervisor and past WWPR President and Vice President Lauren Lawson- Zilai told me about the organization and said it would be a great opportunity for me to build upon my existing skill sets. Lauren is also past chair of the Pro Bono committee and founder of the Emerging Leaders Awards… I literally work for a WWPR All-Star!
Lauren knew that I wanted to build relationships with PR professionals and gain a greater understanding of the industry. I became an active WWPR member a week later, just in time for the holiday party. Within a few months I became the sponsorship liaison for the Emerging Leaders Awards Committee and an active member of the Professional Development Committee. The relationships I’ve built and the industry knowledge I’ve gained is invaluable.
What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment professionally?
My biggest accomplishment is landing a PR job at a leading nonprofit social enterprise. In just under a year I’ve built my skill set to include strategic planning, media relations, content management, partnership building and crisis communications. Every day I’m challenged in a new way and I’ve finally found purpose in my career.