May 2018 Advocate: Interview with CFT Publications Director


Interview with Jane Hundertmark, CFT Publications Director

Jane Hundertmark administers the Communication Awards Program for the CFT, and a panel of judges reviews the entries and selects the winners. She was interviewed by Katharine Harer. 

How many years have you administered the Awards? 

My first year administering the awards was 1996. Back then, I just got up and read the award winners — with no visuals onscreen.  Now we present the winning entries in a multimedia show. Before me, Fred Glass (CFT Communications Director) administered the awards, and they were called Union Teacher Press Awards — UTPA. We renamed them somewhere along the line to more accurately reflect the diverse membership in CFT as well as the diverse forms of communications being recognized.

What’s the best thing about the CFT Communication Awards from your standpoint? 

The best thing about the awards is that the CFT continues to value union communications and is committed to offering the contest — free for local unions to enter. National AFT no longer offers its contest.

Why do you think our local has won a lot of awards in different categories in the past four or five years? 

For starters, AFT Local 1493 has an unwavering commitment to member communications. Coupled with that commitment, the local has had highly skilled individuals on staff and in key communications roles for many years. And it has sought out communications talent among its faculty. There is obviously a commitment from leadership to stay current, evaluate what the local is doing, and constantly improve.

The longevity of key players helps bring valued perspective. To that end, Local 1493 has developed effective communications systems — these are essential to publish regularly, and quickly, when needed. Over time, the local has adapted to changing technologies and thinks strategically about which form to use when.

I imagine that AFT Local 1493 sees the awards as an opportunity for the local to be recognized for its significant efforts. It takes some effort to enter, and Local 1493 is always willing to take the time. Because the Local has been so consistent in its communications work, it’s able to enter a lot of categories, which increases the chances of winning awards. The real reason Local 1493 wins a lot of awards is that the judges find the work deserving. Plus I think Local 1493 just likes the Communications Awards!

Why is exciting writing and creative thinking so important for a local union? 

We are bombarded with high-end images and campaigns every day in the media, so there’s a pretty high standard out there. Yet unions don’t have unlimited resources, so we have to work hard at finding creative ways to connect with our members in a contemporary way. Content matters now more than ever.