Capitol Communicator is running a series featuring an in-depth look at communicators in the mid-Atlantic.  In this “Up Close and Personal” profile, we feature Trudi Benford. Photography for the series is by Cade Martinwardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire and Sybil Street for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson, Janice Kinigopoulos and Lori Pressman for THE Artist Agency.

Trudi, please provide us a short bio.

I oversee creative recruiting, resource allocation and purchasing programs at GMMB, but to be perfectly honest what I really do (and truly love) is crisis management and negotiations. I have 25 years of experience managing creative arts and started my career in orchestra management. I hold a pivotal role at the intersection of design, advertising, digital, account and production and try to bring a “make it happen” approach to every challenge, regardless of magnitude. I’ve been at GMMB for almost twenty years and it’s never been the same day twice.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

With my husband, I’ve been heavily involved in volunteer work in our hometown for many years. Probably our biggest efforts have revolved around growing and leading the largest Odyssey of the Mind program in Maryland, supervising 10-12 teams and 75-80 students each year. We led our own team of seven students for five years, and successfully coached them three times all the way to international World Finals. The program focuses on teaching creativity and out-of-the-box problem-solving, so it’s perfectly aligned with my work at GMMB, a plus!

What are the things you are most proud of?

I recently started writing poetry and was shortlisted for Canada’s Magpie Award a couple of weeks ago. I just completed my first complete collection and sent it off for publication last month. It’s been a time of creative revival in my own life and I’m truly enjoying the writing process (and I’m going to tip a hat to my muse here, a good friend who knows who she is!). Here’s a short poem to share with your readers; I suspect we’ve all felt this emotion as we communicate through technology in the digital age:

With reckless abandon
I hit send.
My words now in the system:
unprotected, irretrievable.

Before, they stretched
warmly nested in my head,
every syllable
right, confident, wanted.

Ice forms as I wait.

Who are your personal role models?

Okay, this is going to sound corny, but in first grade I wrote a book report on Helen Keller. Since then, she’s been like a little cheerleader in the corner of my mind. If HK could surmount being blind and deaf and go on to lead a successful life, someone like me, with all my faculties, should be able to accomplish great things. Knowing her life story taught me that there is no reasonable excuse not to try my best.

Did Helen Keller offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

Obviously, I never met Helen Keller, but here are two inspirational quotes attributed to her that sum up a lot of my feelings about how your outlook can impact your outcomes:

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”

What professional advice do you have for others?

I think it’s incredibly important to be honest, transparent and real with yourself and others. I believe with self-awareness comes an almost moral imperative to live an authentic life and be true to who you are as much as possible. Good things will flow from being comfortable in your own skin.

What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?

I’ve always been a huge classical music fan. Lately my Pandora stations have been tuned to piano music by Romantic composers like Chopin, Debussy and Mendelssohn. I also have a thing for a jazz composer named Claude Bolling and spend a lot of time listening to his “Picnic Suite” for flute and jazz piano.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

Since we were married almost 25 years ago (gulp!), my husband and I have made a tradition of a Wednesday night date. In early days, we visited a Japanese noodle dive and religiously kept the cost under $20, including tax, tip and a shared Diet Coke. Fast forward to today and things are a bit more upscale: we’ve been regulars at Darlington House in Dupont for more years than I can count. Ask the maître d’, Ernesto, to bring you the “Trudi” salad (not on the menu, but it’s delicious with apples, pecans, and gorgonzola).

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I am a passionate, perhaps even slightly hedonistic person with a penchant for my husband, children, and closest friends, cats, Scrabble, helping those who need a hand, cello and piano, reading, late nights, the ocean and living life to the fullest each and every day. Oh, and anything chocolate.

 

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