10 Things About: Stephanie Wurtz, Director of Internal Communications
1.) This is a new position at CC. What will the job entail?
The focus on developing an intentional internal communications position is a key element of our strategic plan. The goal of this position is to strengthen our culture and improve workplace excellence, build strong internal communication, vibrant collaboration, and organizational transparency. We all want CC to be the best place in the world to work, and strategic internal communications will advance that priority and make us a more effective organization. This will involve working across all divisions, bringing together varying perspectives, and facilitating meaningful dialogue. First off, I’m taking an inventory of all our internal communications efforts to establish where we are, assess what is working, what is not and why, and then develop a plan to get us where we want to go. I’m excited to dive right in and start getting to know our outstanding faculty, staff, and students; the most important part of my job is building those relationships.
2.) What qualities do you bring to Colorado College?
That quality of connecting with people is something I hope to bring to CC. We all have stories and experiences – the things that make us unique and the things that unify us as the CC community. Being able to look at those things in a strategic way, to find effective, intentional ways to grow our internal community, will be part of what my experience adds to our team. I’ll also bring my enthusiasm and drive to be continually learning and growing, both personally and professionally.
3.) How do you think your position will impact CC?
We have great potential to strengthen our culture and facilitate collaboration and transparency throughout CC. Many individuals I have talked with already have expressed a similar sentiment: They’re craving some kind of consistency in connecting with one another, receiving information, and having dialogue internally. We can build and support meaningful, cross-organization relationships, which will improve our effectiveness and strengthen the CC community. This impacts our entire organization and ripples out to the broader community.
4.) Where did you work before CC and what were you doing?
Prior to starting at Colorado College, I served as the public information officer for Falcon School District 49, one of the fastest growing K-12 public school districts in the state. I managed the organization’s communications program, including media relations, marketing, internal communications, strategic planning, and crisis response, among many other roles throughout my four and a half years in that position. I began in District 49 after five years as a news reporter, working for the ABC affiliate in Colorado Springs and Pueblo and CBS affiliate in Topeka, Kan.
5.) Tell us about being a news reporter.
My days started at 4 a.m. as a morning show reporter, covering everything from blizzards and floods to the 2008 Democratic National Convention and state politics. The best part of being a news reporter is the people you meet. As a journalist, you have the opportunity to tell a person’s story and give them a voice. You get to really get to know an area, its people, and its culture. Every day brings a new day with a new story and new adventure. Those stories were fueled by the individuals I was able to interview and talk with about their experiences.
6.) What do you do with your personal time?
I am a runner. I’ll be out running, in all weather, typically training for one race or another and often volunteer in the running community. My interests are varied, so I’m always looking for new ways to connect with our community: I co-direct a trail race in the fall at Venetucci Farm and recently I enrolled in a painting class. Over the past several years, mountain biking has become another challenge. It is a perfect way to get out and explore and experience the natural beauty we have here in Colorado, and across the globe. I also enjoy traveling, reading (send me your book recommendations!), and picking up cooking tips from my fiancé (we’re planning a small June wedding in the mountains).
7.) What’s next on your race calendar?
The Catalina Marathon is coming up in March. That’s a beautiful and agonizingly hilly trail race, 26.2 miles across Catalina Island off the coast of southern California. I ran it last year and wild bison were actually out on the course with us – a great motivator to pick up the pace. Also, I’ve started training for my first Ironman triathlon, so that will be a significant training challenge. I’ve never done a triathlon, but I thought I’d jump right in with a big one. I have until Aug. 3 to get ready for that.
8.) What is your most memorable run?
It’s tough to come up with one; there have been so many amazing runs! Running is truly the most ideal way to explore a new city or locale. I’d have to say the Rim to Rim to Rim run across the Grand Canyon. 44 miles in one day from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, to the north rim and back again. We started well before sunrise, found snow on the north side, and ran through 105+ degree temperatures in the bottom of the canyon. The views were phenomenal!
9.) Tell us about your background.
I am originally from Kansas, in a suburb southwest of Kansas City. It was a wonderful place to establish roots and values as an individual. I received my Bachelor of Journalism and Master of Strategic Communications degrees from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia and actually began my career as a reporter there in college. In my experience, Midwesterners are people who value hard work and support one another. As I’ve lived and traveled to other parts of the country, I realize those people are actually everywhere! (though more often than not, they’re actually Midwestern transplants.)
10.) Wild card: What’s your indulgence/guilty pleasure?
Relaxation can feel like a guilty pleasure to me, with a glass of good red wine and a good book out on our front deck (after a long trail run or bike ride). Or, reading through an issue of Bon Appetit or Runner’s World cover to cover (I initially planned to become a magazine writer before catching the television bug). I sometimes feel like it’s indulgent to sit down and just unwind, but it helps me recharge. I also teach yoga, so squeezing in some time to take a class also is a bonus!