Direct Impact Spotlight: Julie Rollend

November 3, 2023

This fall, Direct Impact enthusiastically welcomed Julie Rollend to the team as a Senior Vice President. She brings two decades of experience in public relations and corporate communications with a background in consumer, lifestyle, hospitality, and technology. She spent much of her career in the travel and tourism sector where she recently led local campaigns across the United States and Canada for Marriott International.

We had the chance to catch up with Julie to learn more about her passion for helping brands tell their unique stories.

Early Days 

What was your very first job?  

I have fond memories of my summer jobs in high school. Growing up in Ohio, my first jobs were at Geauga Lake Amusement where I worked at the entrance booth selling admission tickets then at Sea World of Ohio where I sold Shamu balloons as people exited the park.  

Where did you attend college, what did you study, and what career did you initially think you would pursue?  

I am a proud Buckeye and received my bachelor’s degree in journalism and PR from The Ohio State University. I worked in communications at a state association in Ohio before moving to Boston to attend graduate school at Suffolk University where I studied Integrated Marketing Communications. I wrote for school newspapers even as far back as elementary school, so I was confident from an early age about my career path. During my first year of college, I thought I would pursue marketing or advertising but once I saw the class descriptions for journalism and PR majors, there was no turning back.

Career Highlights

What has been your biggest career milestone or accomplishment thus far?

There are so many moments throughout my career that I am appreciative of - from receiving a James Beard scholarship to attend a cooking class in France to hosting media FAM trips around the world, to debuting a new product at CES.  Most of all, I feel fortunate that I have had the opportunity to work for brands that I am passionate about, which makes the storytelling easy, and the days feel less like work.

Leadership 

What qualities do you believe make a great leader?

Always remember where you started and don’t forget to give back. There is a line in a song, “When you get where you're going, don't forget to turn back around, and help the next one in line.” I truly believe that, while roles evolve as you grow in your career, I try to support and encourage the entire team. I like to think about the lessons that helped me grow, and I make the time to give back through mentoring at work or through university programs.

 

For young professionals currently working their way up in the media and communications industry, what advice would you offer them?

Stay connected. The people that you once interned with or were in the trenches with early in your career, are now founders of companies and senior leaders. I have one former colleague that I have crossed paths with three different times throughout my career so you never know when you will work with someone again or have the opportunity to reconnect to help them or refer them.  

 

The Power of Local 

Why do you think local engagement matters?  

My first high school mentorship program was for my local town paper and then I wrote for The Lantern newspaper at The Ohio State University. Having worked in local markets like Columbus, Boston, Atlanta, New York City, and Washington, DC, I understand the power of local. Who knows the community and the issues that impact the people more than a local news source?

 

Personal 

Are there any TV shows, books, and/or podcasts you’re currently enjoying and would recommend to others?

I still love the library and you will find me there often checking out books. I am a huge fan of the weekly “Hidden Brain” podcast for their fascinating storytelling of human behavior.

Thanks so much, Julie, and we’re thrilled to welcome you to DI!

 

About Julie

Prior to joining Direct Impact, Julie was a Director of Public Relations and Corporate Communications as well as a Team Lead at Alarm.com, the technology company and leading platform for the intelligently connected property, home and business. In this capacity, she designed and implemented internal and external communications plans, including directing media relations around product launches such as at premiere events like CES and leading executive positioning opportunities.

Before that, Julie spent nearly eight years with Marriot International, including five years in the corporate office, developing media strategies for destinations and hotels throughout the U.S. and Canada and focusing on partnerships with organizations such as NCAA and Brand USA.  She started her Marriott career as a regional leader for public relations with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

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