Alum Highlight: Rob Bullock
In Rob Bullock’s former job as Director of Mission Communications for the Presbyterian Church (USA), he would sometimes be asked to send a message out to a broadly defined group, such as “all pastors” or “all Presbyterians.”
If those requests sound familiar, it’s because today’s busy, multifaceted organizations often need help when it comes to defining an audience and crafting the right message. In Bullock’s case, he felt he could provide that guidance—up to a point. But he wanted something more.
“I was determined to become more competent and confident,” says Bullock, now Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Presbyterian Foundation. “I’d been doing communications for 20 years, but all of it was ad hoc. So when I was giving advice it was based on my gut, but not on training in the logic and systems behind it.”
Bullock received that training through the Georgetown University Executive Master of Professional Studies in Global Strategic Communications (GSC), from which he graduated last fall.
“I think the format and design of the course is perfect,” Bullock said. “From the very first week, I was learning things I could immediately apply to projects at work.”
The yearlong course combines online study with weeklong residencies in major cities throughout the world. Bullock’s cohort met in D.C., London, and Singapore before returning to D.C. for the final week. They learned from Georgetown instructors, as well as scores of guest speakers and fellow students who included professionals from the U.S. military, AIG, The World Health Organization, and the U.S. Department of State.
“With all these fascinating folks,” he said, “I absolutely learned as much from them as I did from the professors.”
Alum Highlight: Patience Peabody
Patience Peabody likes being the first to try something—“a pioneer,” as she puts it.
She grew up very poor in Barry Farm, one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. But that didn’t stop her from being the first in her family to attend college.
Energetic and enthusiastic, she looks for the positive in people. And she is quick to express gratitude—to the D.C. public schools for showing her she had what it takes to go to college, and to Georgetown University’s graduate program in Global Strategic Communications for teaching her that becoming a better communicator requires a personal journey of self-discovery.
“I felt that I was a more competent, confident leader coming out of the program than I was coming in,” she said.
That theme emerged in the program’s first course, Global Leadership & Communications, co-taught by public relations experts Bruce Harrison and Judith Muhlberg. “They really set the tone for the level of professionalism, wisdom, knowledge, and achievement that the program expected,” Peabody said.
Peabody has spent most of her career with nonprofits and government entities that help people; it’s her way of giving back to those who helped her. After starting the GSC program, she was recruited to be Director of Communications for the District’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education.
Working in urban education in media-saturated Washington, D.C., can be an intense experience, Peabody said. But when she feels overwhelmed, either by the politics or the minutia of policy, she thinks about the individuals she is ultimately serving: the children of D.C., many of whom are in the same place she was not so many years ago.
“I’m a product of the D.C. public schools, and I know what success looks like,” Peabody said. “It worked for me.”
Alum Highlight: Stacey Kerr
Stacy Kerr was a highly successful communications specialist for many years, but it wasn’t until she graduated from the executive master’s program in Global Strategic Communications that she started her own consulting firm.
To Kerr—founder of Kerr Strategies, a strategic communications consultancy in Washington, D.C.—this was no coincidence. She credits Georgetown’s program, and its unique focus on personal growth and leadership, with inspiring her to take that step.
“The emphasis on personal awareness is a differentiator for Georgetown, and it’s very consistent with the Jesuit tradition,” Kerr said. “I gained not only self-awareness and self-confidence, but also a deeper understanding of my strengths as a leader, both inside and outside of my career.”
Judging by her last two jobs, Kerr had plenty of strengths before entering the program. For nine years she served as special assistant to perhaps the most powerful Democrat in Congress: current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Then, in 2011, the woman Politico once dubbed “Pelosi’s alter ego” left Capitol Hill, not because she was tired of politics but because she wanted to apply all she had learned outside of politics. She found that challenge as the assistant vice president for strategic communications at Georgetown, a position she held for six years.
At Georgetown, Kerr’s job involved much more than representing the University and covering campus events. It meant truly understanding, in the most authentic way, what the Georgetown “brand”—indeed, its ideal—represents. That required vigilance, consistency, and an ongoing spirit of teamwork and collaboration.
“Communication is constant,” Kerr said. “Communication is not something you do only in a crisis.”
The Global Strategic Communications program emphasized that developing true leadership requires personal growth—a message Kerr took to heart.
“I believe that good leaders are made, not born,” Kerr said. “The program emphasized reflection and looking internally at my strengths, and that will definitely be my approach in the future.”