Loyola University Chicago

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SOC welcomes Marketing Communications Manager

SOC welcomes Marketing Communications Manager

By Genevieve Buthod

In the “Welcome to the Team” series, we interview newly hired staff members at the School of Communication. This edition features Marketing Communications Manager Destiny Woods. She previously worked at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign for eight years. She started there as temporary extra help in the campus health center and left as Marketing and Communication Specialist for the Center for Advanced Study. This interview was conducted partially in person and partially over email.

Let’s start with the basics. Can you tell me about your hometown?

Champaign Urbana is everything; I call it my personal Little House on the Prairie. It’s a beautiful mix between suburbia, country living, and city living. It has a close-knit small town feeling, with city activities.

Where did you go to school?

I did my undergraduate education at Eastern Illinois University, and I majored Organizational and Professional Development. It’s like the sociology of business organization.

After graduating from there, I went to the University of Springfield and got my certificate of Management of Nonprofit Organizations. It gave me more experience in marketing community events and fundraisers for non-profits. It helped me gain experience working with people who are doing something not as employees, but as volunteers. They’re doing it because they believe in what they’re doing. This experience prepared me for my Master’s program.

I went to DePaul University and got my Master’s Degree in Public Administration. It gave me the ability to be more fully immersed in non-profits, especially those that work with younger people. My key areas of interest were serving underprivileged communities and tackling health disparities.

What brought you to Chicago?

I’ve been in love with Chicago almost my whole life, from my first field trip to Chicago to see the museums as a kid. I consider myself a city girl with country roots. I love the vibe and the pulse of the city. The architecture is second to none. The food is amazing. And the people are so nice. The people are the most winning feature of Chicago for me. It’s so diverse, and people here are so down to earth and kind.

Have you found any favorite spots in the city so far? What parts are you looking forward to exploring?

I’ve recently fallen in love with the beach. That’s my happy place. When I started at Loyola was when I first saw the beach here. I enjoy the Zen of the water and having “me time.” I love farmer’s markets, and I’m excited to explore Fulton Market and more of Streeterville.

What first made you interested in working at Loyola University Chicago?

I started thinking about pivoting in my career when I graduated from DePaul with my Master’s Degree. I knew that I love the culture of higher education. I know it like the back of my hand. There are so many different groups of people you’re able to help, the students, the faculty, and the community that your university is in. I’ve always loved the energy of innovation in higher education, the kind you don’t always find in private sector companies. And of course, I love Chicago.

I really fell in love with the excellence in scholarship here, paired with a heart of service. What stood out to me the most was servant leadership. The more I read about Loyola, the more I found that matched with me and my personal values.

What do you love about Marketing Communications? What drew you to this field?

I love it because I think it is the perfect bridge between creating strategies to help people and my love for creativity. On the strategic end, I feel like it allows me to walk alongside people and their projects, such as an event or publication, and I get to help them share that in a way that will be really rewarding for them. I love being able to be the person who helps other people put their best foot forward. I like to amplify the voices of others, and directing their message to the audiences that would benefit most from hearing those voices. I see so many people who have gifts that they offer, but other people don’t know about it. Marketing Communications allows me to be the conduit between the gift and the people who need that gift.

And it allows me to do this in really creative ways. I get to create fliers, I get to create amazing stories around major wins that people have. I can put it in front of different stakeholders and help them see why this information is relevant to them.

Can you tell me more about what you do in your role as the Marketing Communications Manager at the SOC?

My role at SOC is to work closely with the Dean, UMC leaders, and other stakeholders to develop and execute strategic marketing and communications plans specifically and solely for the School of Communication. These plans are designed to reach prospective students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and external audiences, and guide the public presence of SOC; crafting our reputation and communicating our brand and the weight of our value among other schools, the media and communications industries, and the Loyola family. This executive-level strategic branding work is the goal of my assignment; it's the heart of why I am here.

How does that combine with your role at UMC?

I’m an extension of UMC that’s assigned specifically and solely to SOC. I have to know about the school’s happenings so that I can pitch them to UMC, so that they can further increase the visibility of the SOC. It’s important for UMC to know about these things, because a lot of times, they tie into larger narratives in the university. It’s important for UMC to know the school’s impact on the Loyola family, and I get to advocate for our interests to them. I love having the privilege to support such an amazing school. I love getting the word out about the gem that is the SOC.

What were some of the challenges you weren’t expecting? What surprised you about your role when you first started?

I’m getting used to Loyola systems, which are a bit different from what I was used to at U of I. I’m starting at ground zero when it comes to building my relationships with my colleagues. I had been at U of I for about a decade. I was familiar with everyone. Now at Loyola, I’m loving getting to know people. It can be challenging, partly because everybody’s busy doing their own jobs. Especially with everyone working on a hybrid situation, with some in the office and some remote, it can be hard to get to know people at first. I want to get to know people, knowing if it’s ok to pop in to their office unexpected or not. Everybody has their own style that I’m still learning.

What do you like most about your role?

What I love the most is the people. When I interviewed for this role, I also interviewed at another school. Both were great, but there was something really organic about my connection to the SOC team. There’s nothing more important to me than connecting and relationships. Now that I’m here, and I get to see people in person, it’s been really great gradually getting to know folks. Everybody has been really helpful and welcoming, which is important for me being new not only to the school but to the city of Chicago.

What do you want people to know about working with you?

What I want people to know about me is I’m here to help. I’m really down to earth. It means a lot to me that people are comfortable coming to me for help, or just to have a conversation. Even if it’s something I can tackle right away, or something that is better handled by another person, I can still do my best to help. I want people to feel comfortable talking to me. I’m a chocolate and bear hugs person. I have a big heart. Relationships are huge for me.

What do you like to do in when you’re not working?

Eating! And cooking. I am such a foodie.  When you think about your happiest moments in life, like graduation or the holidays, food is always part of it. You can think of any fun event and food is at the heart of everything. My favorite side dish to make is my macaroni and cheese. It is for cheese-lovers only. It will change your life. I also like baking, especially cookies. Cookies are my love language in dessert form. You can’t go wrong with a cookie. They’re easy to eat and they’re so adorable!

I’m also a very service-oriented person. I love getting involved in non-profits, or even just helping a friend with something on the weekend. I’ve worked with Annie B. Jones, an organization that serves the South Side of Chicago, and some neighborhoods on the West Side. It serves young people who are struggling with overcoming hardships and believing in themselves. Annie B. Jones empowers young people to know that they don’t just have to accept being changed by their communities, they can be the change in their communities.

I’ve also worked with PAWS Chicago. It’s awesome, because it’s like being able to be a pet-lover without the expenses of owning a pet. I’m also interested in getting involved with the YWCA.

You’ve had such an interesting academic and career trajectory. Can you offer any advice for students who want to follow in your path?

Stay true to yourself through the journey. Don’t settle for an opportunity that you know you really don’t want. There will always be someone who won’t understand your vision, or what impact you want to make. You have to know yourself. Don’t give up on pursuing what you really want. Don’t worry about what it will look like on paper. Sometimes people think success looks like becoming a CEO, or selling all your earthly goods and becoming the next Mother Theresa. What you do with your life might not look like success to other people, so you have to know what it looks like to you, and stay focused on that. Your gift will make space in the room for you, and your passion will keep you in that room.