Intrepid looking for opportunities
How do you become CEO? Start making calls.
Cold calling companies aren’t the only way Jennifer Lawrence Hanscom ’91 has become the leader of Washington’s largest medical professional association. In addition to his daring, his training allowed him to move from a survey research position in Salem to that of supervision. Washington State Medical Association‘s (WSMA), which includes representation from its more than 11,000 healthcare professionals.
“I feel like my liberal arts education really prepared me for my career path – traits like critical thinking, reasoning, problem solving, persuasion, all of that. From the start, I was able to apply these learned characteristics to each of my jobs, ”she said.“ With a bit of tenacity. ”
Life Beyond Riddle
A first-generation student who arrived in Willamette after living in Riddle, Oregon – a town of less than 1,500 south of Eugene – Hanscom worried about fitting in, despite moving from a small community to a other.
“I came from a rural community and Willamette seemed so elitist,” she said. “So I felt like I had to find my people pretty quickly. Once I did, I knew I had made the right choice.
The life of a small town let her envision a different future. Everyone she knew worked at the sawmill – she too, enduring the cemetery shift to support herself while in school – and she was more determined than ever to get a desk job. Political science seemed a prerequisite for getting the law degree she dreamed of having, so she went on to major and also studied communication. But at some point during a semester spent in Washington, DC, she realized that there were other ways that she could change people’s lives.
“I saw the science of politics in real life, and the power of the people around the decision-making table – many of them in their twenties – and everything that goes into the political machine that runs it. country. It made me more open-minded about what I could do for a career, ”she said.
Soon after, she picked up a phone book, searched for “anyone and anything associated with lobbyists” and requested information interviews. She landed an internship at a lobbying firm in Salem, Public affairs advisor, his last year. She later found out that she got the job because she wanted to be paid and had the courage to ask.
“Sometimes you have to go out there and create your own opportunities,” she said. “They are not always given to you.
Rise in the ranks
This phone call led to nearly seven years at the firm, developing survey research questionnaires, lobbying on behalf of clients and managing numerous campaigns.
In 1996, Hanscom took over the telephone directory. The man who would become her husband was living in Seattle at the time, so she reached out to lobbyists to see if she could work as a staff member at a company there. What started as an informational interview turned into a job offer as Director of Communications and Membership at the WSMA, which required her to grow its membership through outreach efforts. targeted communication. All written communications – newsletters, brochures, editorials – as well as lobbying and member retention fell on her plate, and it was a great opportunity to apply the liberal arts skills she developed through her experience. working, she said.
“In the space I work in, it’s so important to communicate well – whether you’re trying to pass a law, communicate a point to the media, or convince a patient to take action,” she said.
His persuasive ability has made a difference in people’s lives, even when it hasn’t been in his favor. After being promoted to Senior Director of Public Affairs and Operations in 2005, one of her many roles was to help launch an effort with consultants to push through tort reform. Voters weren’t convinced about capping non-economic damages, but the effort helped educate the public on how high jury prices can hamper the ability to access care, he said. she declared.
Hanscom went on to become the first female CEO of the WSMA in 2013, acquiring more operational and leadership responsibilities. She realized early on what was fulfilling her and she bonded along the way – and didn’t wait for the right time to show up.
She also pays him up front. Last year, a Willamette student interested in public health contacted her for an internship, but the WSMA did not have one at the time. So the association created an internship for the student in her political department, and of course she gets paid, Hanscom said.
“By reaching out, you can discover jobs that weren’t even there then because you connect with someone and they want to create an opportunity for you,” she said. “Nothing at home has prepared me for where I am today, except maybe for guts.”