Kent State Prepared Journalism Alumna for Wide-Ranging Career — Today, She Gives Back

Laura Gordon, '87, had such a fulfilling experience as a Kent State University student, that she now gives back so that others may find their way to the types of relationships and encounters that helped set her on her path.

When her adult children — one recently graduated and one still in college — were looking at schools, she encouraged them to “dig deep” into their majors and find those relationships and activities that the university offered.

“I really experienced that myself with my professors,” Gordon said. “Tim Smith ... and Carl Schierhorn were both so supportive in helping me find my path and get out into the world.”

And beyond her own family, she supports today's Kent State School of Media and Journalism students in their pursuits through a scholarship in her parents' names, the Beverly and Ralph Buterbaugh Scholarship.

“The scholarship that I pay into allowed me to do something that didn’t require an enormous commitment but still allowed me to feel connected and to feel like I was giving back,” she said.

After she graduated from Kent State, Gordon pursued healthcare journalism and transitioned to public relations, where she spent more than 20 years at Edelman, an award-winning global public relations firm. 

“I was a journalist for about 10 years and then Edelman recruited me to run their editorial division, and that’s how I decided to make the leap into PR,” she said. “I did that element for 22 years, and when I left I was running the healthcare practice at the Washington office.”

Gordon said she wanted a change after feeling like she “had done it all.” To encounter a new challenge, she began researching healthcare jobs and landed at the Institute for Advanced Clinical Trials for Children.

“I was connected to a recruiter, and they had this job opening for a new nonprofit group (that) just formed about a year before I joined it,” Gordon said. “It had been created by a multidisciplinary group of healthcare leaders and they were all concerned about the delays in pediatric research.”

The delays often experienced are between the time a drug comes to market for an adult, Gordon said, the time it takes for the FDA to do studies in children for the same drug. The process can often take a decade. The Institute for Advanced Clinical Trials for Children, according to its website, serves "as a neutral and independent organization on behalf of children everywhere, bringing a dedicated voice to the advancement of new medicines and devices needed now and in the future." 

“This nonprofit’s whole goal was to help pharma companies accelerate their studies in an efficient, but also of course, regulatory manner,” Gordon said. “I knew a lot about pediatric research and clinical trials already. For me, the new learning was really more about the business side of things.”

She worked at the nonprofit until 2021, and today, runs her own consulting business, Laura Gordon Consulting, LLC, focused on communications in the healthcare/medical sector.  In the past few years, she's worked on several projects related to COVID-19, drawing on her background in healthcare and communications. She worked with mayors across the country to encourage their communities to get COVID-19 vaccinations and other routine shots. She also collaborated with patient advocacy groups and clinician organizations in states with high infection rates to raise visibility of federally funded monoclonal antibody treatments.

Outside of pandemic-related work, Gordon created website content for a pharmaceutical company developing an investigational heart-attack drug, and educated audiences about treatment for people with schizophrenia.

“Owning my own firm gives me the freedom to choose clients and projects that are meaningful and promise real impact,” she said. “It also provides flexibility I've never had before to spend time with my (now adult) children, support local social-service projects, work from anywhere I want to and take the afternoon off if I feel like it. It's the most fulfilling job I've ever had!”

When Gordon was a student, she and another student were responsible for founding what’s now known as the university’s general interest magazine, The Burr.

Formerly known as The Chestnut Burr, the university’s yearbook, Gordon and fellow journalism student Thomas Lewis, petitioned the university to turn The Chestnut Burr into The Burr Magazine.

“It really gave me great experience in working within the structure of the university (and) really understanding, ‘How do you navigate that?’” she said. “But what we realized was that it was such a big university that no one really cared about the yearbook anymore.”

Gordon said they felt it was their job to tell that story and help people understand why they wanted to make such a big change.

“We made sure the first issue was almost a kind of gift back to the leadership of the university by having a little fun with it and showing that this magazine was something that was really going to be good for the university,” she said.

Gordon said she has noticed and appreciated the way Kent State welcomes students from a variety of backgrounds.

“I think it’s really important to give back when you’ve experienced such valuable support so it’s always been really important to me to be part of that,” she said.

POSTED: Monday, January 23, 2023 04:51 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 19, 2023 11:28 AM
Kaitlyn Finchler, '23