In the cutthroat media world, the heritage of our organization is about fostering connections.
In the days when typewriters weren’t collector’s items, New York Women in Communications often recruited recent graduates headed to their first jobs in advertising, magazines, newspapers and book publishing. New members developed grassroots events, provided the hospitality and did everything in between including writing and sending newsletters.
What evolved were lifelong friendships, and — as the corporate landscape opened up — an ever-more robust group. One former president sums up our ethos then as now: “Even though I was alone in my office, I could reach out and get ideas on questions I had. We found commonality of interests and information. Whenever I went to someone, their answer was yes.”
For example, some of our senior members can tell shocking stories about discrimination in the workplace. Those struggles ultimately paved the way for later generations to not only dream big, but ease into management. But big challenges remain: equal pay and diversity remain elusive goals, and the digital revolution requires new skills and perspectives.
Living in a fast-paced world of jammed inboxes and multiple obligations, it’s important to pause and learn from our heritage as women and as an organization. We began by using an online survey to get to know a few former presidents. We then followed up with in-person interviews.
We spoke with five former presidents about their professional journeys: Liz Kaplow, Patrice Tanaka, Charlotte Tomic, Nancy Weber and Kristine Welker. These leaders reflected on NYWICI and women in the communications landscape. Some founded their own companies, others climbed a corporate ladder. Some chose motherhood, others did not. What they have in common is a variety of experiences across creative and business roles, in many professions.
This heritage project is ongoing. Please contribute to the conversation with thoughts and suggestions. We hope to interview more members as the months and years bring more progress, professional inspiration and community to new generations.