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As the Associate Director for External Affairs at the University of Minnesota Duluth, I am surrounded by college students. They help me see the world through fresh eyes. Connection to community, the respect of opinion leaders, ethics, and honest communication are valued by young people as much as the rest of the world. I strive to achieve success in those areas.

I've been creating persuasive public relations and marketing campaigns for academic institutions since the mid-1980s and have the success stories to prove it. Capital campaigns for multi-million dollar buildings are part of the job; I've worked on nearly a dozen of them. When publicity was needed for the visit of the President of Finland, former Vice President Walter Mondale, and the celebrity Garrison Keillor. I made it happen.

There is another part of my life that is equally important. I follow my heart. In 1991, that meant I launched a publicity campaign about 150 orphans in Ukraine who were left without food or heat when the Soviet Union collapsed. I joined the world relief team as the public relations expert and secured a spot on the front page of U.S.A. Today, and stories in the Milwaukee Journal and the Chicago Tribune. The publicity ensured the children received the care they needed.

In 2008, the civil rights movement enveloped me. I worked with a 1960s' era Mississippi civil rights worker, Sue Sojourner, to write her memoir, Thunder of Freedom. (See writing.) It took hundreds of hours and more than four years and was published in January 2013 by the University Press of Kentucky. The best part was what I learned from Sue about history and the drive to do what is right, no matter the cost.

I've been working with media since I was a child. I remember stuffing envelopes addressed to every televison and radio station in the United States. As I was growing up, I continued to help my parents in their national public service announcement business. TV Access is still in the family and I remain on the board of directors.

Communication is power. My strength is working with a team to reach audiences, first by looking at the big picture, next by creating the strategy, and finally by executing the steps toward success.

 

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© Cheryl Reitan