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.