Judy Hackett | Journalism | Class of 1982

7 Questions with Judy Hackett

We sat down with Judy Hackett ’82 and discussed professional life, her college experience, and passions of today. Here’s what she had to say.

What drew you to major in Journalism at Kent State?

In middle school I wrote a paper on the Kent State May 4th events.  I visited the campus and fell in love.  I had an interest in writing and knew I wanted to have a career in the field. I was the first in my family to attend college, and I knew the Journalism school had a good reputation.  It was also just far enough from home that I could gain my independence but be close enough to come home for a Sunday lasagna dinner! Little did I know that I would eventually cover the May 4th memorials for the news service each year while attending Kent. 

What were some of the most meaningful experiences you had at KSU?

The highlight of my time at KSU was working for the University News Service. As a freshman, I was just naive enough to walk into the news service office and ask for a job. I was granted an interview with Joe Durbin, the managing editor at the time. He thought that anyone who took this kind of initiative deserved a shot. My job was to write external press releases, and by my sophomore year, I hosted a radio interview show called Kent State Magazine. It was broadcast on stations across Ohio on Sunday mornings.  I had the opportunity to interview some pretty amazing people including feminist-activist and former United States Congresswoman, Bella Abzug.  I also met and worked alongside Kent State Alumnus, Pulitzer Prize winner and former KSU Communications professor, Connie Schultz.  

Tell us about your career path. 

I began my career as a television producer in Cleveland, Ohio, at stations WCLQ, WEWS, WOIO and WUAB, making promos and trailers for TV shows, movies and ratings-driven newscasts. Eventually, I earned my stripes as head of marketing and was able to play a leading role in shaping Cleveland TV history. That is, while working at WOIO, I helped launch Cleveland’s first new newscast in 40 years and served as CBS network’s lead marketer in launching the first FOX-to-CBS network affiliate switch in the country, after the U.S. broadcast TV realignment led by Rupert Murdoch in ‘94. 

After the successful switch, I was asked to join other networks, but it was cable TV that interested me most. Ted Turner was changing the way we watched television at the time and so in 1995, I headed to Atlanta to head up marketing for flagship Turner network, TBS and helped launch some incredible programming including the Dinner & a Movie and Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah.  

In the late 90's, Internet providers were tasked with solving the future delivery of TV online. Things were changing in a big way, and I wanted to be part of it. So, after 16 years in television, I officially signed off to focus on digital marketing. Over the years I've served as SVP of Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer for numerous tech companies including CareerBuilder, Web.com and Dun & Bradstreet to name a few.  I’ve led startups that succeeded and some that failed. (I definitely learned more from the failures.) I’ve taken a company public and taken several private, and today I’m an investor in a number of technology companies across the world as a founding partner in Bryant Stibel. 

Trio of photos of Judy Hackett and her family

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment, personally and professionally? 

I have a number of professional experiences of which I'm proud of, but it is that of 40 years of marriage, raising two wonderful women and building and maintaining a tight knit, loving and very fun family that has given me the greatest joy in life.  I say this because being a working parent has its demands and share of sacrifices. I give my husband an enormous amount of credit for supporting my career.  For several years, and when it wasn't popular to do so, he was the stay-at-home parent.  He was terrific at it, and enjoyed it, which allowed me the freedom and security to focus on my career.  

Where are you now?

 I'm in my favorite place. After 13 years working and living in Los Angeles, I've retired.  My husband and I recently moved to Nashville to spend more time with my new grandson and his parents.  I look after my Bryant Stibel investments and sit on the board for music software and hardware company, Native Instruments, which is based in Berlin.  I also serve on the board for a national non-profit that is near and dear to my heart and has a connection to Kent State.  First Star is a free comprehensive four-year college access program for youth in foster care. The organization partners with child welfare organizations, school districts and universities to ensure foster youth have the academic, life skills and adult support to transition into higher education and adulthood successfully. 

How do you stay connected to Kent State today?

Thanks to KSU Dean of Communications Amy Reynolds, and her commitment to staying connected with Alumni, I was able to bring to her attention the work being done in partnership with universities to change pathways for foster youth. That connection led to the development of a First Star program at Kent State University serving foster youth in Northeast Ohio. My dad was a foster youth living in Ohio and never had the opportunity to go to college. I do this in honor of him. (He read every textbook I brought home from KSU).  I'm extremely proud of the work being done at my alma mater under the direction of our amazing Director, Daniele Green-Welch. I encourage our alumni interested in helping these young people to consider getting involved, and I encourage those alumni with means to support First Star to please consider doing so. You can learn more at (website address)  

What advice do you have for students and recent alumni?

For students and young alums, believe in yourself! Be bold.  If there is something you want, go for it, and seek out alumni who may be able to help you connect to an opportunity. Because of the access to information today, I find more and more young people overwhelmed and anxious about their careers. That little bit of naïveté combined with a deep belief in myself allowed me to walk into an office and ask for that first job. That led me to the rest of my career. Every next move became easier. Take it one day at a time. Also, look at failures as your best education. It is not a reason to beat yourself up.  

POSTED: Wednesday, June 5, 2024 11:42 AM
Updated: Wednesday, June 5, 2024 02:07 PM