Jillian Warren

Digital Project Management & Communications

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A Runner’s Response to the Boston Marathon Explosions

Boston

Preface: I need to write about this. Bear with me.

I’m a former journalist and television producer. My ears perk up at the words “breaking news,” like a dog who just heard the words “car ride.” This behavior is ingrained in my being.

I am also a runner.

When my husband texted me this afternoon with the news, I was sitting in a session at the Digital Marketing for Business Conference at the Raleigh Convention Center. After I figured it out that it wasn’t some sort of sick joke, my attention span was shot. I should probably apologize to the session speakers because I don’t think I absorbed anything they said. I was too busy wearing down my already dying cell phone battery trying to piece together the story via tweets, news websites, and text messages.

My first reaction — as a runner, and as a human being — was for my heart to sink down into my stomach. Then the journalistic autopilot took over. When the session concluded, this newshound sniffed her way to the nearest television to watch the details unfold live. A mix of adrenaline and shock kept any real feelings at bay.

Then, it started to sink in.

Runners are amazing people. We run through pain, through adversity, through the worst that nature can throw at us. We bond together, support each other, celebrate each other. We raise a whole lot of money for charity. We run to beat ourselves, never to beat down others.

I’ve been running for the better part of my life, and I will likely never see the starting line of the Boston Marathon. Boston runners are elite. Some of them have trained their whole lives for this, and they are the best in the world. Once runners qualify for Boston, no one can ever take that away from them; they become a “Boston Qualifier.” They are making history. The Boston Marathon finish line is the dream.

For me, the more attainable dream is this year’s Chicago Marathon. I’ve battled injury, I’ve sacrificed time and sleep and comfort and money, and I somehow made it through this year’s registration debacle. October 13th is my dream. Now, though, there’s a shadow of uncertainly and fear hovering over it.

I’ve also stood at many a race finish line — many times as a volunteer or supporter. The finish line crowds are full of friends, family, parents, children, runners, fans, and well-wishers of all shapes and sizes. The finish line crowds are full of love and support and positivity.

Any attack on innocent people is unthinkable… But an attack on runners? An attack on the pinnacle of a harmless, incredibly positive sport that brings so much good to the world? Unfathomable.

If I know anything, though, it’s that runners are resilient. They face pain, and they fight through it. They bounce back. How many times have you heard runners proudly complaining about their latest strains, sprains, or mystery ailments? Does that stop them from getting back out on the road? No. We see teams of doctors, plunge into bone-chilling ice baths, and perform self-torture with foam rollers and other bizarre therapeutic devices — all in pursuit of the runner’s high. There are runners who’ve shuffled, limped, and even crawled to the finish line. We don’t quit.

Today we were shaken, but tomorrow we’ll pick each other up, lace up our shoes, and keep running on. My thoughts are with everyone in Boston and all my fellow runners tonight. We’ll get through this. We always do.

“Create My Own Font” Experiment

jaycie-font

Look at that — I turned my handwriting into a font!

I mentioned this very cool “make your own font” idea from MyScriptFont.com, via Hongkiat.com, in my recent Around the Web blog post. I printed out the template, wrote out the alphabet a couple times in black Sharpie, scanned it, uploaded it, and here we are. Easy, right?

I may go back and take a second pass at it, being extra conscious of the heights and slants of certain letters. The bottom tips of a couple lowercase letters are just barely cut off, a few letters seem to float higher on the line than others, and I’m not a fan of how much certain characters slant to the right. All those minor deviations aside, it’s a pretty nice font — if I do say so myself!

Early Jobs: How I Got My Start

Early jobs

You can tell a lot about people by the menial jobs they held early in their lives. Everybody has to start somewhere … And, this is where I started.

Jillian catches a softball

Catching a ball during my fastpitch softball career

Softball umpire: As soon as I was eligible (age 15, I believe), I signed up for umpire training for Elk Grove Girls Softball — my first real job other than babysitting! I’d been playing in the league since second grade, including a few years in its fastpitch travel program, so it seems I knew at an early age to pick a job I love! Calling balls and strikes for 8-year-old girls while being terrified of getting beaned with a flying bat wasn’t the easiest job, nor was getting screamed at by their hyper-competitive parents. But, I took my job seriously. I memorized the rulebook, was always on time (even if I had to ride my bicycle to the field in a rainstorm), wore the heavy equipment in the summer heat, and always tried my best. As far as first jobs go, it wasn’t a bad gig.

Movie theater cashier: I have always loved movies, and a friend recommended I apply to become his coworker at Classic Cinemas Elk Grove Theatre. I got the job and started as a cashier, which meant I did a little bit of everything! I manned the ticket sales booth, cleaned and stocked the concession stand, sold popcorn and drinks, tore tickets, swept empty theaters, scrubbed restrooms, and even voiced the recorded “moviefone” message each week. I learned a lot about customer service, integrity, teamwork, supervising and training coworkers, managing intense situations (i.e, an understaffed concession stand at 7pm on a Friday), hitting deadlines, and even manual labor. Plus, I watched many movies and ate free popcorn. I loved it.

Government procurement clerk: As my movie theater days wound down, I scored a great summer position with the Department of Justice: U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Illinois. I ended up spending my summers and winter holidays there from 2001-2004. As a member of Office Services, I spent my first summer in the mailroom and supply room. I was the only clerk our manager trusted with hand-documenting the location of important case files in our storage rooms. I also processed FedEx packages, burned court case files to CDs, delivered supplies to attorneys, sat in on press conferences and trials, and did all number of odds and ends. After that, I moved into the Procurement Office, where my responsibilities included single-handedly documenting, reorganizing, and maintaining inventory and telephone records for our office of over 300 employees.

Video Vault DVDs

Video store associate: As a student at the University of Pennsylvania, I got involved with Video Vault, the video rental store run by Penn Student Agencies. As an associate, I was often the sole employee in the store during my shifts. I was responsible for managing rentals, returns, and purchases; serving customers; organizing inventory; and supervising the cash register. Eventually, I was given my own key and the honor of both opening and closing the store. Again, I love movies, so this was another natural fit.

From there, as they say, the rest is history! These may have been relatively simple jobs, but I learned a lot and developed a work ethic that continues to serve me well in my professional career.

Around the Web: March 2013

Around the Web

Here are some interesting links I’ve collected and shared online throughout the past month. Enjoy!

Content Marketing

Design

Lifestyle

Social Media

Web Apps & Google

The Library of the Future

James B. Hunt Library at N.C. State University

James B. Hunt Library at N.C. State University

This isn’t your old college library.

I recently took a tour of N.C. State University’s brand new Hunt Library with the N.C. Association of Government Information Officers (NCAGIO). The technology, innovation, and design of this library blew me away.

We started at the BookBot: a several-story tall, automated storage and retrieval system that holds most of the library’s inventory. Then, on the main floor, the circulation desk has been replaced by an Apple Store-like “Ask Me” alcove, where students can borrow everything from flash drives to laptops to storage lockers. Throughout the building, the architecture and furniture work together to create a simple yet high-tech atmosphere. The walls near stairs, elevators, and bathrooms are color-coded for easy findability; and group study rooms, media rooms, a video game laboratory, and 360-degree customizable galleries are all outfitted with the latest technology. A 3D printing lab is even available for students to design and create 3D models. Built through state funds and private donations, the Hunt Library is on the cutting edge and will serve as a cornerstone of student life on Centennial Campus.

The best part is that the library is open to the public (hours), with free tours each week. Definitely go check it out!

Photo Gallery
[nggallery id=2]

Additional links

CNN World Sport Promotion

CNN World Sport Promo

I fell in love with television promotions during the summer of 2005, which I spent in Atlanta as an intern with CNN‘s On-Air Promotion Department. One of the highlights of that internship was working on a promotional campaign for CNN International’s World Sport program. I got to work closely with the producer, interact with camera crews and talent during the on-location shoots, and then watch the editors work their magic. This video brings back good memories!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9dw1S9Bp68&width=500&height=350

Watch video at YouTube.com

Email Newsletters

Examples of Jillian Kuhn Warren's email newsletter work

The majority of my job responsibilities involve effectively communicating messages to internal, as opposed to external, audiences. When I’m not busy working on the redesign of the Judicial Branch’s employee intranet site, I’m usually working on one of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts’ employee newsletters. Check out examples of my newsletter work.


N.C. JUDICIAL CENTER BUILDING BULLETIN

I am the editor of the award-winning N.C. Judicial Center (NCJC) Building Bulletin, which reports on office news for the 400+ employees on our campus. The Building Bulletin has been my responsibility since June 2012, after a part-time resource dedicated to this newsletter left the organization. The newsletter has traditionally been sent monthly, but under my direction we’ve started sending updates at least twice each month. My role as editor is to generate content ideas, write and edit articles, take and edit photos, create graphics, and build the newsletter in HTML/CSS. We are currently in the process of implementing the GovDelivery email newsletter delivery service, but at this point everything is still done manually.

N.C. Judicial Center Building Bulletin January 2013 edition

The process

I start with a yearly editorial calendar Excel spreadsheet, where I store content ideas for each month’s edition. We have a handful of recurring features — for instance, our Meet Your Neighbor staff feature and monthly photography contest — and some seasonal topics that we cover annually. NCJC staff can submit articles or ideas, and I’m also constantly thinking of new content based on what’s happening around the office. Our main goal is to share information and get staff involved in the office community.

N.C. Judicial Center Building Bulletin October 2012 edition

Once I have an idea of the content, I start building the newsletter as a webpage using an HTML/CSS template. Our former graphic designer created the branded template, and I’ve built on it over the past several months. I write new articles, edit audience-submitted content, design graphics in Adobe Photoshop CS6, take new or edit existing photos, create any surveys — and then drop them into the HTML code. It’s a time-consuming process, but HTML/CSS gives me the freedom to tweak the layout to my exact specifications. One of our internal developers created a program that generates photo gallery webpages from a list of image files, so I will run that program as needed, as well.

Shortly before the publish date, I’ll send the finished newsletter file to my team members for review. Then, I’ll make any last-minute changes before uploading the newsletter files (the main HTML files as well as any images, PDFs, or photo galleries) to our FTP server. At this point, I check the newsletter URL in Internet Explorer, the official browser that all Judicial Branch employees use, for any strange behaviors. If everything looks good, I’ll send the newsletter webpage as an email via Outlook.

Once we get GovDelivery up and running, the production of the newsletter will be a much simpler process. I’ll still be tasked with producing the right articles, images, and graphics, but building and sending the newsletter will be a more automated process.

NCJC EMPLOYEE APPRECIATION COMMITTEE

N.C. Judicial Center Employee Appreciation Committee Newsletter March 2013As a member of the N.C. Judicial Center’s Employee Appreciation Committee (EAC), I help promote upcoming events and fundraisers — primarily through email newsletters and flyers — to the roughly 400 campus employees on an as-needed basis. The EAC newsletter currently follows the same production process as the NCJC Building Bulletin (outlined above), from which it also borrows its design template. I do create custom header banners for each issue, though.

INSIDE THE CHAMBERS

This newsletter, published weekly whenever the N.C. General Assembly is in session, provides relevant legislative updates to all 7,000+ employees of the N.C. Judicial Branch.

Inside the Chambers February 2013When Inside the Chambers launched during the 2012 legislative short session, our former graphic designer based the HTML template on that of the Building Bulletin, but with a customized header banner. The newsletter started out with weekly commentary, budget news, and the latest legislation updates from our Legal and Legislative Services Division — but, in 2013 it evolved into a dedicated vehicle for disseminating legislation updates.

This newsletter follows the same production process as the Building Bulletin, but it differs from the others in that I am not solely responsible for generating content. In this case, I’ve worked with our Legal team to define a standard process and schedule for submitting content so I can hit my publishing deadlines.


As you can see, a lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into the creation of these newsletters. These are the three newsletters that I manage, but there are also others that I help edit or oversee each month. In addition to editing and production work, I’ve also worked with communications and technology staff to create guidelines and define procedures for Judicial Branch staff to follow when setting up additional newsletters. Newsletter work only comprises about 10-15% of my job, but it’s a chance to be creative, share interesting stories, and get others involved in company events and culture.

Make sure you check out the rest of my newsletter work.

Farewell to Posterous

Jillian Kuhn Warren's Posterous

I was sad to learn that Posterous, an easy-to-use blogging platform, will be shutting down at the end of April. It’s not unexpected news, since Posterous was acquired by Twitter in 2012, but I’ve enjoyed using it for the past few years and hate to see it go.

Personally, this news meant that it was time for me to find a new home for my photo blog, where I post random snapshots from my life via my cell phone camera. Fortunately, though, the transition was an easy process. I was able to export my Posterous posts, create a new pics.jillianwarren.com subdomain, and port the Posterous posts into this new WordPress blog.

It’s nothing fancy (to be honest, it’s largely shots of my dog), but if you ever want to peer into the random goings on of my daily life, check it out.

Newsletters Archive

Examples of Jillian Kuhn Warren's email newsletter work

The N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts’ Communications Office is responsible for managing several email newslettersBuilding Bulletin February 2013 for the NCAOC and the N.C. Judicial Branch. Jillian Kuhn Warren oversees and edits many of these newsletters, spending roughly 15% of her workweek on them. Her three primary newsletters are listed below.

Currently, Jillian creates all content (copy, images, etc.), produces the newsletter as a webpage with HTML and CSS, uploads the newsletters to the web via FTP, and sends the newsletters via Outlook. Read more details in her Email Newsletters blog post. She has done extensive research and presented proposals on various email newsletter delivery services, and the NCAOC is in the process of implementing the GovDelivery system.

N.C. Judicial Center Building Bulletin

Jillian is the editor and primary contributor to this award-winning monthly newsletter for employees of the N.C. Judicial Center.

NCJC Building Bulletin September 2012

Before Jillian became editor, the Building Bulletin looked like this: May 2012. Multiple staff members, including one dedicated part-time employee, published one edition each month and often spent a late night at work prior to the publish date. Now, with Jillian as the sole editor, Building Bulletin publishes at least two editions per month and is always ready on time.


N.C. Judicial Center Employee Appreciation Committee

Krispy Kreme Fundraiser 2013Jillian is the editor of this periodic newsletter to inform N.C. Judicial Center employees of events held by the Employee Appreciation Committee.


N.C. Judicial Center SafetyNCJC High Wind Safety Newsletter

Jillian is the editor of these special-edition newsletters that recognize National Safety Month and provide relevant emergency information to N.C. Judicial Center staff on behalf of the Emergency Planning and Safety committees. Learn more through her NCJC Safety Newsletters blog post.


Inside the Chambers

Jillian is the production editor of this newsletter that provides weekly legislative updates to all employees of the N.C. Judicial Branch while the N.C. General Assembly is in session.


Praise for Jillian’s Newsletters

“Thank you for providing our employees so much information and helping to make this a fun place to work.” – an executive manager

“BB thanks for the article and thanks for being such a class act.” – a manager

“I thought today’s BB was quite good — a very nice presentation/blend of news, stuff and fluff.” – a coworker

2012 In Review

Jillian in France

Happy 2013!

I’m a New Year’s baby — so, not only do I set my New Year’s resolutions this time of year, but I make my birthday wishes, too. That’s a lot of self-evaluation and goal-setting all at once! Although I’m already making big plans for the coming year, I would be remiss if I didn’t first look back and reflect on the past one. I had some big personal goals for 2012, and I’m proud to say that I achieved them!

Each year has its highlights, and 2012 was no exception. When I look back at this collection of 366 days (yes, it was a leap year), here’s what I’ll remember:

  • My grandfathers: Between January and March, I lost both of my grandfathers. This was an unexpected one-two punch that definitely shook up my personal life and brought me closer to my family.
  • Changing careers: In February, I left my job as a web agency project manager to pursue a new direction in government communications. Quite simply, I wasn’t happy. But now, thanks to an opportunity to change course and pursue a career that is more in-line with my goals and ideals, I am! I’m glad I took that leap of faith and took this new job.
  • City of Oaks Half Marathon

  • Running: With my new work schedule and office location, I was able to join a 5k training group, and the rest is history. I overcame a nagging injury that had plagued me for years, and not I only ran a 5k — I ran a half-marathon! And, on top of that, I hit my goal time and ran pain-free! Joining the Raleigh Galloway program was key, and I rediscovered a passion, a way of life, and a fantastic group of people that I’d been missing out on.
  • Europe: I planned a September trip to France and Italy with my husband, and my parents even joined us for a few days. After months of planning and saving, it was everything I could’ve hoped for! We spent two weeks revisiting places I’d loved during my study abroad experience in France (see the main image at the top of this post) and exploring new places together in Italy. I even got to see the Pope!
  • My first year of marriage: In November, my husband and I celebrated our first anniversary! First Anniversary 2012Like any year of any relationship, it had highs and lows — but, we made it through and are stronger and happier than the day we got married.
  • Juno: My primary responsibility at the NCAOC this past year has been to project manage the redesign of the Judicial Department’s intranet website, also known as the “Juno” project. We’re wrapping up development now and aim to launch in the coming months. We’ve put a lot of hard work into this project, and I’m happy to see how far it’s come!

Those are the big ones, but I should also mention a couple good trips with family and friends (skiing, the beach, D.C., Charlotte … ), a couple fun weddings, and the impending arrival of my very first niece (arriving any day now). Whew, what a year!

I wonder what 2013 will bring?

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