Longtime Member Puts to Work Lessons Learned at IABC OC Programs

Longtime IABC Orange County chapter member Wendy Nugent learns something new every time she attends monthly meetings. Nugent says she also enjoys meeting colleagues in different industries who share common interests and often provide solutions that she can apply in her own work.

“The people are what make it interesting,” she notes. “I could listen to a webinar or TED Talk and get some of the same information, but meeting colleagues in the profession is why it’s so valuable to be in the group.”

Nugent, who lives in Irvine, is a senior communications specialist for the Automobile Club of Southern California and has been an IABC member for 10 years. She came to Orange County to work for the Auto Club after spending time in online and print publishing. Her last job was with the Fresno Bee’s website, a position she held for five years.

“I’ve always liked writing and editing, and I’ve had a long career doing different work, from writing technical books to working on newspapers,” Nugent says. At the Auto Club, she works on boosting employee engagement, and she runs the organization’s United Way campaign.

She particularly enjoyed IABC OC’s recent panel discussion on corporate social responsibility and is putting together a proposal for a volunteer program at the Auto Club, putting to work some of what she learned that afternoon.

“I’m glad to see that companies are including social responsibility in their business planning,” she notes. “It’s not just a feel-good thing, or just for show. They really believe in being responsible corporate citizens, and employees are now expecting companies to be socially responsible.”

Another recent program she enjoyed was IABC OC’s evening crisis communications presentation by two members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, who discussed how they handled the press during the escape of three inmates from the Orange County Jail. “The message I came away with was transparency,” she says. “They were as honest as they could be and they won over the news media, getting them to help track down the escapees. There were lots of good lessons for all of us in communications.”

In her free time, Nugent leads the Woodbridge Village Book Club, whose members just finished reading New York Times bestseller “Black Man in a White Coat,” a doctor’s memoir of grappling with race, bias and the unique health challenges of black Americans.

Nugent moderates the club’s monthly meetings as members discuss both nonfiction books and novels. Reading is one of her favorite pastimes, along with volunteering for the UCLA OC Bruins alumni association and the Second Harvest Food Bank. She also keeps busy with family activities involving her 28-year-old twins, Mike (an actor) and Kelly (who is applying to law school).