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2011 June

02 Jun

By

IL: Traci O. Blunt

June 2, 2011 | By |

Congrats to June IMPACT Leader of the Month Traci Otey Blunt, a veteran media, political and public affairs specialist, is Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs. In this role, she is responsible for media strategy and communications, government relations and public affairs activities on behalf of The RLJ Companies. Traci, who recently served as a Deputy Communications Director for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, has more than 15 years of experience leading public relations and public affairs efforts for corporate, local, state and federal governments, as well as non-profit organizations.

Traci has experience in the fast-paced world of politics and government, having served as a media specialist on Capitol Hill, with the District of Columbia government, and in mayoral, state legislative, gubernatorial and presidential campaigns.

Prior to joining the Clinton campaign, Traci served as a Vice President and Deputy Director for the multicultural practice at Ogilvy Public Relations in Washington, DC. As Deputy Director for the agency’s multicultural communications, Traci provided the day-to-day management and oversight of several high-profile accounts and public affairs campaigns, including the African American Medicare Prescription Drug Campaign for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Readiness Initiative and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

As the Director of Communications for the District of Columbia’s Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development in 2002, Traci was responsible for planning economic development-related events, as well as leading all communications efforts related to development in the city. She also served as Press Secretary for the 2002 reelection campaign for Mayor Anthony Williams. In 2000, Traci served as the Communications Director for the Tennessee coordinated Gore/Lieberman campaign. She also served as a Communications Specialist at the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and worked in the United States Senate.

Traci is a 1990 graduate of Tennessee State University where she received her degree, cum laude, in Criminal Justice. She currently serves on the following boards: the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBCLEO) Foundation and the College of Public Service and Urban Affairs Board of Advisors at Tennessee State University.

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INTERVIEW | Getting to Know Traci O.

What is the key to balancing your professional, philanthropic and social commitments?

I have been fortunate to maintain a fairly balanced life when it comes to my professional, philanthropic and social commitments. In DC, you find that all three of these sectors are often intricately linked and it’s important that you define your own balance and determine what the trade-offs are. I think I do a pretty decent job with it.
What is the biggest mistake young professionals make? Young professionals (and seasoned ones too) often name drop, discuss internal office business, or have negative conversations about people or matters in very public settings (i.e. the Metro, events, restaurants & bars). This is a networking town and if you choose to discuss these things in open forums … be aware that people are listening in.

What advice would you give other young professionals who desire to excel in their profession, specifically for other young women of color?

My advice to other young women of color is to always remain true to yourself and never lose focus of what you are trying to achieve. As you grow professionally, you may have to take what seems like one or two steps back to get three steps ahead; however, if you keep sight of your goals, you will get there. All that you desire in your personal and professional life may not come today or all at once, but I am a true believer that perseverance and hard work will always pay off.

What’s been the best experience of your career thus far (or the most rewarding)?

This is a hard one. Each employment opportunity has advanced my career. I have worked on local, state, and national political campaigns; at every branch of government (local, state, federal); have worked at a women’s issues focused political action committee; at a national legal association; two of the world’s leading PR agencies and now in a corporate office. I believe every job has been a stepping stone for me and has allowed me to have and maintain a solid foundation for each new experience. I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for each opportunity. One of my most exciting career moves was being asked to serve as a deputy communications director/director of African American media for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign – that was an historic and unforgettable experience and I’d do it all over again.

What’s next for you in your career? What should we look out for?

I enjoy working at The RLJ Companies (the holding company formed by Bob Johnson after he sold BET) where I have been employed for almost three years. As the principal who oversees corporate communications and public affairs, my role encompasses every job I’ve ever had.  I don’t have any immediate career moves in the near future and see myself working to promote and execute the RLJ brand and the innovative and cutting edge work being conducted across the companies.

Lastly, give me three words to sum up Traci.

Loyal! Energetic! Real!