About the Driver

I’m a transplant. I moved to Buffalo, N.Y., from West Virginia (go Mountaineers!) in 1982 to work at what was then WEBR radio, a wonderful all-news station that had the largest newsroom in the state outside New York City. The staff was young and hungry (both literally and figuratively!) and we formed friendships that remain to this day. However, as many people in radio discover, it doesn’t pay, and as many journalists did at that time when they wanted out of the media, I began a career in public relations.

It was a good fit. I had a long run — nearly 20 years — practicing public relations for various health care organizations in the city. Along the way, I became accredited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA); have received 17 Excalibur awards, presented by the Buffalo Niagara PRSA Chapter for excellence in public relations programming; was named the chapter’s Practitioner of the Year in 2001; and, in 2009, was selected to join PRSA’s prestigious College of Fellows, a “lifetime achievement” that less than 500 practitioners have achieved.

Eventually I left the media calls, special events and crises behind to teach full-time at a small liberal arts college (now university) in Chautauqua County’s wine country. The State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia has about 5,500 undergraduate/graduate students and a lovely campus. I’m now tenured and am looking forward to spending my days (at least the lucid ones!) teaching public relations.

When I became part of academe, I had to participate in the “publish or perish” torture that faces all junior faculty trying to make tenure. Only problem was I’m not an academic at heart; quite frankly, I think most research is only read by academics and not the people who are supposed to put it into practice. So what happens when you have to do scientific research and you don’t want to do it? Find a way to tie it in to something you love. Turns out that not many scholars were out there writing about public relations in the travel and tourism industry, so I ended up writing about what I love — traveling — with a special focus on Route 66. Since then I’ve had articles published in several scholarly journals — the Journal of Hospitality and Leisure Marketing, the Journal of Vacation Marketing, and the Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing — and more fun publications like Route 66 Magazine. I also managed to fit in a book, Public Relations Writing Worktext, as well as some book chapters.

As the first six years of my teaching passed, I found that I not only left the corporate world, but also the city. I began moving further and further into the country and now reside in a village near the NY/PA border. Westfield has a traffic light at each end of town, one supermarket, one drug store and one fast food restaurant. I live two miles out of town on Lake Erie where I enjoy beautiful sunsets and crashing waves. Life is pretty good. It’s the best, however, when I’m on the road. I’ve been known to wake up on a beautiful summer morning and be so filled with desire to hit the road that I’ve left for Oklahoma — just because I’ve never been there before. However, I enjoy it nearly as much even if I’ve driven the route a thousand times. There’s just something about being behind the wheel that makes me feel free and rids me of any worries. Of course, you gotta have the windows down, even if it means turning the heat on! With my son now in New York City and daughter in Wisconsin, I shouldn’t want for a road trip in my near future . . .

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5 Responses

  1. What a GREAT idea! As a student, I appreciate your conviction to equip your students in this area. I am curious to hear about your past road trip experiences!

  2. It’s an experiment for us all, Emily! Stay tuned for the most recent road trip that featured the world’s biggest hammock!

  3. That is so cool that you saw the world’s biggest hammock! I find it so amazing that people come up with such creative ideas. I love how you seek to see new things. I love to travel and I always try to go to different places and do different things. Life is too short and you have to try to experience it all!!! I can’t wait to hear more!

  4. Thanks, Abbey! Next blog update: the world’s biggest tire and the world’s largest stove!

  5. Loved reading your “About the Driver” page. It give me inspiration as a new college instructor and p.r. practitioner. Seeing your blog format helps me as I am finally beginning to create a few blogs of my own I was glad to read your thoughts on who really reads academic research because that is how it seems to me too. I have ideas for future research for publishing and it also connects with what I truly love. THANKS!

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