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Missie Thurston: A Strategic Approach to Storytelling

NWCPHP Marketing and Communications Manager Missie Thurston combines her unique love of storytelling and strategy to make a difference in the world.

NWCPHP Marketing and Communications Manager Missie Thurston combines her unique love of storytelling and strategy to make a difference in the world.

October 9, 2013

One of Missie Thurston's earliest memories involves "reading" a favorite book to her family. Though she was actually reciting the book from memory, it was clear from an early age that this future NWCPHP Marketing and Communications Manager had a love for storytelling.

Born to an elementary school teacher and broadcaster, Missie grew up in a household where microphones and switchboards were part of the everyday. She even starred in a radio ad for waterbeds when she was seven. Equally present growing up was a drive and sense of self-reliance, exemplified by her parents who ran their own music store.

"There was this feeling that you'd learn how to do whatever it is you needed to do to get the story told," Missie explains.

After graduating with Bachelor's degrees in English Literature and Journalism Mass Communication, Missie worked with her dad to develop and pitch what would later become The Vermont Book of Days, a daily program celebrating Vermont's history by telling the story of something that had happened on that day.

The program ran 365 days per year, across a variety of mediums, from local public television to radio stations, newspapers and a website, eventually resulting in a hardbound book that the father-daughter team designed, self-published, and self-printed. It was a great training ground for Missie, who—fresh out of college—was still deciding on her career path.

"It was a combination of my love of reading and stories, and having this kind of entrepreneurial spirit and access to tools that blossomed into this realization that I wanted to help tell stories that made a difference in the world," she explains. "The Vermont Book of Days solidified this idea of working across platforms but driving people towards the same emotion. It's how I became really passionate about integrated marketing communications and strategy. As a two-person team, we had to be so efficient and think about leveraging what we produced in every possible way."

When The Vermont Book of Days ended, Missie and her husband moved to Seattle, where she decided to freelance to learn more about the city and explore her career choices. It was during this investigative process, that she stumbled upon the notion of public health, eventually landing a position at NWCPHP.

Missie Thurston teaching at 2013 Summer InstituteSince joining NWCPHP, Missie has helped strengthen the NWCPHP image, brand, and mission, helping to update the center's central look and implement a brand new website. Under her guidance, the communications team has grown, developing more vehicles to help inform and enrich the regional public health practice community. She also recently taught a Summer Institute course on effective presentations.

"The thing that I loved about NWCPHP was that it's practical," says Missie. "I wanted to do things that I thought were really improving the community and what really excited me about the center was working on behalf of a mission that could make an immediate difference."

Outside of work, Missie loves being outdoors and on the move. Hiking, running, skiing, swimming, basketball, and yoga are just a few of her hobbies.

"Being outside always makes me happier," says Missie. "There's something about it that's really refreshing, cleansing, rejuvenating."

When she's not skiing down mountains or running around the streets of Seattle, Missie enjoys learning about interior design, looking at real estate markets and trends, and going to open houses.

She jokes: "When I retire at age 65, I'll be a part time real estate agent . . . perhaps."

In the meantime, Missie and her husband are excited to embark on their next big adventure. They are moving back to Vermont to be close to family, and Missie will get the chance to try her hand at strategic storytelling on a global level as the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Population Media Center.

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