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Marketing leader honored in press

Michelle Eastman, Women Who Lead

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Originally published by Wichita Business Journal, May 25, 2021 Women Who Lead: Marketing and Communications

How did you become involved in marketing and communications? I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love color, fonts, and creating in 3D. From my Iowa high school yearbook to designing advertisements to experiencing other cultures and now championing children with special needs, I’ve always been able to find a place where I can work creatively with words and images to tell a story, showcase a business or reach people with a meaningful message. 

What has been your career path? After high school I earned a degree in commercial art and a job designing billboards in Omaha, then moved overseas with my military husband and worked in the marketing department on base promoting services and planning base-wide celebrations. This opportunity helped me realize I enjoyed the strategy and business aspects of marketing. I experienced the hustle of a daily newspaper, then we drove the Alcan Highway to Alaska and I was part of a growing private health club business. I gained valuable skills, made lifelong friends and thrived living near the majestic mountains and endless wilderness. When the Air Force brought our family to Kansas, I earned my MBA, enjoyed life with our young children, and found my place making a difference for children with special needs and their families. This opportunity has given me insight into fundraising, resilience, and the privilege of making a difference.

How has Covid-19 affected your work? In order to stay safe, the marketing team packed up technology and pivoted to remote work. We helped other departments transition in new ways like Camp Woodchuck one-on-one in homes, taking the Blarney Breakfast virtual and equipping staff with information they needed during a pandemic. We looked for new stories to tell about Rainbows’ essential services continuing and how staff adapted. We learned from our experiences we could be productive as a remote team and plan to continue working remotely, giving space to expand programs serving children in-person.

Best advice for young women who want to be a part of the profession? Take a position where you can learn and give your all. It will pay off and you will have experiences that will propel you forward to your next step. Try new things and don’t be afraid to let your light shine.

Who are your mentors and how have they influenced your career? Deb Voth, President of Rainbows United leads the team at Rainbows fearlessly forward. She always looks at what children with special needs and their families need and what it takes to make that happen. She recognizes we are better together and welcomes unique perspectives that help shape the future. I’m grateful to those I serve with on AMA Wichita Board of Directors, past and present. They have provided encouragement, insight, friendship and a chance to collaborate towards personal growth that is unmatched.