CommLeader Spotlight|Jenny DeRaspe-Bolles, Cohort 12


Graduation date or expected graduation date: September 2014

Area of interest (within the MCDM/MCCN program or in general):

Content development, conversational marketing, brand storytelling.

What exactly do you do professionally or what are your professional goals?

I handle marketing and business development for my family’s business, Epoch Design. I enjoy working at a small company because I wear many different hats and have a range of responsibilities, from crafting digital strategy to creating market insight reports for corporate buyers at Fortune 500 companies. Plus, I get to bring my dogs to work! My professional goal is to continue to grow my knowledge and skillset, and always work in a challenging environment that promotes personal growth and learning. 

How are you directly applying knowledge from the MCDM or MCCN program in your daily life?

The Communication Leadership program has given me the tools to better craft marketing narratives and leverage networks with which my target audiences interact. Moreover, I have honed the skills for measuring those interactions, and using that information to adapt strategies in support of company objectives. Finally, I have learned that marketing – at its core – is really about storytelling; consumers want a personal connection with a brand. If you intrigue and engage your audience, they will remember you and keep coming back.

As a full-time or part-time student, how have classes worked into your schedule?

As a part-time student and a full-time employee I have taken one course per quarter and been successful in managing responsibilities at work and school. I believe it has been beneficial to spend as much time in the program as possible (not rush it!) since everything changes so rapidly in the digital space.

Which classes have had the most impact on you personally and professionally?

Business Fundamentals in Digital Communications (also known as “The Business Plan Class”) taught by Rick McPherson, was challenging and inspiring. We were tasked with putting together a complete business plan, from the mission statement and market analysis to cash flow statements and revenue projections (yuck!). I enrolled as a non-matriculated graduate student, and the quality of instruction made my decision to apply to the program an easy one. This class is a must for anyone interested in being a business leader!

Narratives and Networks, led by Comm Lead Director Hanson Hosein, was the most demanding and rewarding class of the program. We were tasked with building a community around a website, no easy challenge with all the noise in the digital landscape. We learned how to attract and engage an audience with compelling narrative, and effectively disseminate that narrative through relevant networks. In this class, I created Dog Gone Seattle, an online resource for Seattle Dog Owners providing information on dog-friendly establishment and events. Since inception, I have attracted over 60,000 visits and successfully developed a following of dog lovers. Without taking this class, I never would have been driven to create this online community which has evolved into such a personally rewarding venture.

What’s your favorite Comm Lead experience?

Through connections I made in the Comm Lead program, I had the opportunity to work for the Agence France-Presse (AFP) covering the pleading hearing and sentencing trial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who killed 16 Afghan civilians. Working alongside big time reporters from the AP, CNN and MSN was thrilling, and I loved the challenge. I have to admit, it’s pretty cool to see your name in a byline, too!

What digital trends are you most intrigued by right now?

I’m currently taking Digital Media Ethics with Ken Rufo, so at the moment I am particularly intrigued by the mass amounts of data that we are complacently or unknowingly providing about ourselves day in and day out. With every click of a mouse or swipe of a card, we are lining Big Data’s pockets, and providing a wealth of information to marketers who are serving better (and creepier) ads, and infiltrating our lives in ways we’ve never before experienced. Meanwhile, the NSA is also utilizing this data, with what some argue will be nefarious consequences for citizens’ privacy and freedom. I think that this phenomenon will significantly shape the human experience in the very near future.

And for the sake of a silly question:

What’s the strangest food you’ve eaten and under what circumstances?

I wouldn’t consider myself a foodie. I did try to make homemade hummus once but after hours of prep, the final product tasted like dirt. (I’d call that pretty strange.) Apparently I missed the part about cooking the chickpeas. It was a major fail.


Ilona IdlisCommLeader Spotlight|Jenny DeRaspe-Bolles, Cohort 12
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