March 2011

 "Have you profiled any of the three scholarship winners (Katerina Gkionis, Kelli Plasket, Kaitlin Tambuscio)? They've impressed me from the start with their commitment. And they seem to come as a group (maybe it's the K's!)."  So wrote Dorothy Crenshaw in an email to me about which young members to feature in the March newsletter. Dorothy knows all about Katerina, Kelli and Kaitlin, because she heads the Foundation Board's committee for members who graduated from college five years ago or less. The three young women were critical to the committee's formation and instrumental in organizing the NYWICI event "Be Your Own Best Publicist" on March 30.

The "K's" come as a group for a reason. They are all "Jersey girls," who are beginning to make their way in the communications worlds of New York City, and they are each NYWICI scholarship winners who graduated from the College of New Jersey (TCNJ) and came to the organization and the new committee through member Tammy Tibbetts.

But Katerina, Kelli and Kaitlin are so much more. They are kindred spirits who are pals and dedicated professionals. Equally important, they embody the future of communications and of NYWICI.

A committee of their own "We wanted to create a place [within NYWICI], where young professionals can candidly discuss topics — such as how to ask for a raise or for new responsibilities — that are especially difficult to navigate for those newer to the workforce," said Kaitlin. "After college, I, like most young professionals, have a strong desire to learn. I want to absorb everything I can and share this knowledge with other young professionals to shape my just-beginning career."

Kelli on the K's "Our similar career goals, love of magazines and journalism and work ethics brought us together. That along with our other mutual interests, like Glee, books, shopping and New York, made us friends. "We motivate, encourage and advise each other."

Where the K's work Katerina is an editorial assistant at Weight Watchers Publishing Group, where she works for Weight Watchers magazine and on the company’s cookbooks. Kelli is a staff reporter at Time for Kids, where she writes for the magazine and website and does web production and video work. And Kaitlin is an SEO specialist at Hearst Digital, a job she secured as the result of an internship in the web department of Good Housekeeping.

It's all Greek, and Cypriot, to Katerina "My parents are immigrants from Greece and Cyprus, and their heritage has shaped me. I grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church and went to Greek school. "My parents taught me the meaning of hard work and an appreciation for all the resources available in the United States. To me, they represent the American Dream, since they immigrated here in their late teens, early 20s, and went on to build a life together in New Jersey."

Build it, and they will read "I loved writing reviews of my favorite CDs, movies and concerts, so I taught myself basic HTML and Photoshop to build a website for hosting my writing," said Kelli, of her middle-school years. "My interest in journalism and web development held through high school, so I sought a college major that would help me improve skills in both areas."

Kaitlin takes Manhattan "When I began my freshman year at James Madison University [in Virginia], something just felt 'off.' "Although I was enrolled in interesting classes, I hadn't written a paper all year. I couldn't shake the feeling that my goal of working in the publishing industry was slipping away. I needed to live closer to New York City to take advantage of opportunities there. Luckily, when I transferred to TCNJ, everything seemed to fall into place."

How do you spell mentor? Tammy Tibbetts "She is kind and driven and, as you can tell by her nonprofit achievements, very compassionate," said Katerina. "I speak for Kelli and Kaitlin when I say, we all aspire to be like Tammy."
 
—As told to Michelle Lodge