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Inspiring Women in Communications: Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA

KristenRichardsAs Women’s History Month draws to a close, we’re wrapping up our March feature series, highlighting female professionals in the communications field. For our final installment of “Inspiring Women in Communications,” we’re pleased to feature Kristen Richards.

Kristen is co-founder and editor-in-chief of the international webzine and daily newsletter, She is also editor-in-chief of the AIA New York Chapter’s quarterly publication, Oculus. Kristen has been involved in the A/E/C industry for many years as a journalist and photographer, including a 10-year tenure as news editor/feature writer for Interiors magazine.


What drew you to the field of communications?

As a field, it was more like I was thrown into rather than drawn to communications. I was a founding member of an Off-Off Broadway theater (Impossible Ragtime Theatre) back in the mid-70s, and somebody had to take on promoting it to audiences and critics (and sponsors and donors). Tag — I was it. Turned out I was pretty good at it — or so I’ve been told.


What did you think you would be when you “grew up” — and are you doing that now?

I wanted to grow up to be a director, an actor, and a writer. I’ve been/done all three. (I gave up wanting to be a baseball player early on.) Now, being at the helm of two publications is a bit like getting to be all three at once!


What’s your favorite part of your job?

Having the opportunity to meet — and work with — some of the brightest and most creative and inspiring minds in the galaxy.


As a communications professional, what do you feel is your most important responsibility?

To be open to everyone and everything. One never knows when, where, or how a gem of a person, project, or idea might show up.


How have you seen women evolve in your profession since you started?

That’s difficult to answer. Women were prominent in the design press and communications when I started at Interiors magazine many, many years ago. I think they still are. If there’s been an evolution, I’d say it’s the growing number of — and respect for — female critical voices, especially in architecture and urban design.


Was there a woman who mentored you or inspired you with her success?

My mother most of all. And so many others too numerous to name…I’ve been so very lucky in that regard.


What career advice would you give to other women working in communications?

Be fearless.

Inspiring Women in Communications: Real Estate Weekly’s All-Star Female Team


This month, we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to feature a few of the women in communications that we most admire. We kicked off our March series in honor of Women’s History Month with a spotlight on Tracey A. Reeves, Director of Media Relations for Johns Hopkins University.

In this post, we’re shifting our gaze to the world of journalism. Editor Linda O’Flanagan (pictured at center, above) and reporters Sarah Trefethen and Holly Dutton (pictured above, at left and right, respectively) make up 75% of the editorial staff at Real Estate Weekly, which covers news affecting the commercial, residential and industrial New York real estate markets. To read more about how these women found their way to the paper, click here.


What did you think you would be when you “grew up” — and are you doing that now?

Linda: I initially wanted to be a veterinarian, but when I discovered what that entailed, I changed my mind. I am a wimp at heart, and although I still love animals, I can’t even cut my cat’s nails — never mind perform surgery!

What has always driven me in my work is my love of the human spirit, as dramatic as that sounds. People never cease to amaze me, and telling their stories allows me to be a part of that. Whether they have designed a magnificent building, figured out the engineering, carved the stonework or even sold the apartments, the passion that people have for their work can be infectious. I aspire to transfer that passion through the written word and, hopefully, inspire and amaze other people.

Sarah: There’s a scene in Superman II where Lois Lane is climbing up an elevator shaft spelling out the words “Pulitzer Prize” to keep up her spirits. I loved that scene as a kid. I spent my teens and most of my twenties traveling and collecting experiences rather than building a career, but when I finally decided to pick something to be when I grew up, that came back to me. I am, however, yet to find myself trapped in an elevator shaft.

Holly: Growing up, I was always interested in the news and I loved to read and write. I would religiously watch evening news broadcasts and shows like 20/20 as a young child. I remember setting up my own “news” broadcast with a video camera in my father’s home office in elementary school and then self-penning a school newsletter in junior high.

When I reached high school, I took a journalism elective my freshman year. One of our first assignments was to write a hard news story about a current event.  The writing felt completely natural to me and exciting, and that’s when I knew for sure I wanted to go into journalism. In my senior year of high school, I took a photography class and fell in love with it, so I ended up combining my two passions and studying photojournalism in college. Now, at 28, I’m writing and photographing for a living and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.


How have you seen women evolve in your profession since you started? 

Linda: There are many women working in the field today. Frankly, I am of the school that your gender shouldn’t matter, although I know that it does, particularly in an industry dominated by men. My inclination is always to simply do my best and conduct myself in a professional manner and I encourage any young woman entering the business to do the same. Fear is what will hold you back in any business, so I say embrace the challenge and nothing will hold you back.


As a communications professional, what do you feel is your most important responsibility?

Holly: I feel that my most important responsibility as a reporter is to communicate all aspects of a story as best as I can. I want someone reading one of my stories to be engaged, find the story easy to understand, and feel that I covered all the bases and didn’t leave them with any unanswered questions.


What’s your favorite part of your job?

Linda: Undoubtedly it is meeting people. Whether they are amazing, inspirational, genius or downright dumb, the diversity of the world really floats my boat.  I have been lucky enough to meet great business leaders, celebrities, athletes, and regular Joes, and every one of them has impacted my life.

One big secret that few people know: I still enjoy writing obituaries. You can rarely tell from just looking at someone the kind of life they have lived. I love to see beyond that and get a glimpse of what made them who they were.

Inspiring Women in Communications: Tracey A. Reeves

tracey-reeves-johns-hopkinsIn honor of Women’s History Month, for our March installment of Design on the Haus, we are shining the spotlight on women in the field of communications who inspire us. We think it’s important to share their stories, and we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!

In our first post, we’re featuring Tracey A. Reeves, the Director of Media Relations for Johns Hopkins University. Tracey was born in Syracuse, New York, and raised on Cape Cod. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, she spent a decade at the Washington Post working as a reporter and editor. She was also a national staff writer for Knight-Ridder Newspapers and a reporter for the Providence Journal.

Tracey has been a Casey Journalism Center Fellow and a Knight Center for Specialized Journalism Fellow. In 1998, she shared in the Pulitzer Prize for public service awarded to the Grand Forks (North Dakota) Herald. Tracey is an avid reader, writer, sports fan and news junkie. She resides in Columbia, Maryland, with her husband and twin sons.

Here’s her story:

These days it can be difficult to find a job in the field that you trained for and that you love. I was one of those kids who knew from an early age that I wanted to be a writer, specifically, a news writer. I decided this following a series of events that started after I read Maya Angelou’s coming-of-age autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

My career path became more clearly defined when I was in college and heard of the death of Jessica Savitch, a television news broadcaster who at the time was one of my favorite journalists. I combined my love of writing and news and embarked on a print journalism career beginning at my hometown paper in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and ending at the Washington Post, where I worked for more than a decade as a reporter and editor.

I was drawn to journalism because I’ve always believed in telling stories about truth and triumph and injustice and hope. Now, as Director of Media Relations at Johns Hopkins University, I am still doing what I love – writing and editing and communicating stories, only now the stories are about the wonders of discovery and innovation and the advancement of human knowledge.

When I first thought about a career in journalism and communications, I was hesitant. Many of the reporters and anchors I had seen on television were men. The same was true for the bylines I studied in the major newspapers. Even fewer were African American women. I pushed on, however, hoping that my writing and communications skills would take me where I wanted to go — and they did. Sure, there were bumps along the road, assignments I believe lost out on because I was a young woman (maybe even a black woman). Even now, I am mindful of the fact that as a minority woman, I am held to a higher standard than my non-female minority counterparts.

To the young women considering or just embarking on a career in communications, I would say develop your own writing voice and style and find a veteran to mentor you. Pack on the skills. Learn how to tell a multi-platform story through words, photos and video. Know your subject matter, pay attention to your own delivery of messages and polish your public speaking skills. You never know when you might be called upon to make a presentation or serve as a spokesperson in a crisis. Lastly, believe in yourself. If you don’t, they won’t.