35, Content Strategist for ODUOnline, Norfolk
Business community involvement:
Something that makes you stand out in your industry?
I started in international news and took a path through the emergence of social media for worldwide businesses that eventually brought me back to ODU. Because of this career path that spans communication from global to peer-to-peer, I offer unique perspectives on effective and scalable messaging.
Who keeps you motivated?
My friends, peers, colleagues and neighbors. I’m constantly surrounded by caring and motivated people, whether the goal is to advance a local business or uplift a threatened part of our community.
Tell us about a recent accomplishment that you’re proud of.
I am part of the team that helped poll and put together the Young Professionals Regional Report for tHRive. We worked together to write and distribute polls to young professionals in the area. We addressed topics ranging from quality of life and recreation to education and business. It was a monumental feat of teamwork. The report, released in May 2019, represents and validates the importance of young professionals in their priorities and desires and also serves as a tool to help our cities attract and retain a young workforce.
What’s a challenge you’ve had to overcome to find success?
When I started my career, I was certain that I’d retire a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Redefining success and recognizing unexpected but amazing opportunities was a challenge for me. Although I may never win a Pulitzer, working for my alma mater ODU is a wonderful and uplifting experience with tremendous opportunity to make an impact. Old Dominion University is such an important part of our Coastal Virginia community, producing workforce-ready professionals while serving as an economic driver, employer, steward for leadership and innovator.
Most important aspect you look for in a workplace?
The cliched millennial answer applies here: I need to work for an organization that does something worthwhile. Obviously, most businesses exist in a for-profit space or are beholden to shareholders and/or a board, but any company is also a member of a community and needs to act as good corporate citizens.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in your current position?
I’d be working for Coastal Virginia Magazine, The Virginian-Pilot or another local media outlet, hunting down stories and helping to increase public knowledge and awareness of what’s going on in our communities. I still believe very strongly in the power of the press and am a huge advocate for well-researched and thoughtful journalism.
What new idea or development are you most excited about in Coastal Virginia right now?
Catch the King started in 2017 and is an app-based citizen science data collection project that tracks the highest tide of the year, the King Tide. Organizers for the initiative, which runs through community partners and volunteers, won a Guinness world record for the most contributions to an environmental survey with 59,718 data points contributed by Coastal Virginia locals. This data helps area scientists predict sea level rise and climate change impacts on the region. I’m so excited to volunteer for the cause, see it grow and hopefully help resiliency efforts in the future.
What do you think is Coastal Virginia’s biggest challenge?
Sea level rise. Not only do the rising waters impact our homes and commutes, but they also threaten every aspect of life around here from recreation to industry. We’re way past discussion—it’s time for action.
Favorite place in Coastal Virginia to go on the weekends?
My husband and I like to take out our bikes and take a ride through Ghent to Downtown Norfolk. We usually grab a meal at a local place (Cure and Handsome Biscuit are both brunch favorites) and then hit the Elizabeth River Trail. We take advantage of the ferry to visit our beautiful neighbor, Portsmouth, or wander around the Chrysler Museum if we need a break from the weather.
From her nomination:
“I admire Sarah’s constant energy to commit and participate in projects and programs around the region and am always impressed by the quality and standards of her work. She’s a natural connector and has an eye for making things happen.”
—Jessica Bedenbaugh, peer/colleague