Alumni Spotlight: Michelle Tran

NON-PROFIT – This spotlight series features T. Howard Foundation (THF) alumni working in the non-profit sector.

Michelle Tran (THF ‘13)

Please describe your role.

I’m a Senior Marketing Specialist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. In my role, I manage marketing and communications for a set of specialties, including surgery, emergency medicine, telehealth and more. I partner with stakeholders in each of these specialties to develop and execute strategic marketing campaigns that drive organizational growth goals. I also work on the Children’s National brand and our ongoing “Grow Up Stronger” consumer advertising campaign.

What do you enjoy most about your company?

I’m motivated working for an organization with such a great mission. Everyone at Children’s National is passionate about advancing pediatric health care and caring for children.

During my first job interview, I was also impressed by the number of women on the team and in leadership roles in my department. It’s been both educational and empowering working with them.

In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?

Again, it was the mission that pulled me to Children’s National! On top of that, the position I was originally hired for had a lot of overlap with my previous marketing role at Travel Channel, in areas such as strategic communications planning, project management, and consumer advertising to name a few. I liked that I could bring my marketing skills and experience and apply them at an organization focused on helping kids. I was also excited to work in a completely new industry that I didn’t have any prior experience in.

How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career?

The T. Howard Foundation helped place me at my first internship in the media industry at A+E Networks in New York City, which paved the way for my first job after college at Travel Channel.
The trainings, resources, networking opportunities, and so much more provided me with a great foundation and real-world skills that I continue to use at work today.

I’m still in touch with my former internship manager and T. Howard friends – it’s great to see how everyone’s careers have progressed!

What personal attributes have been essential to your career success?

Flexibility has been key in adapting to my different work environments.

In our advertising, we feature real patients and providers in actual Children’s National facilities. This means for production shoots we can’t always get the perfect shot we envision, but by adapting to the situation in real time we make it work.

As a nonprofit, we sometimes have projects crop up that quickly become an urgent priority. Being flexible helps me pivot and meet new project goals in a fast-paced environment. It also allows me to be a better team player and pitch in to support colleagues when it’s needed.

Attention to detail has also helped tremendously. This past year, I’ve worked on our organizational rebrand and being detail-oriented comes in handy when working with designers finalize the nitty gritty details around brand guidelines, logos and other assets.

If you were entering this career today, how would you prepare to facilitate entry?

I would familiarize myself with the industry by staying updated on the latest news. For health care, I recommend subscribing to STAT. When I first came to Children’s National, there was a learning curve to catch up on things like conditions, well known doctors, pediatric competitors, etc. Like with any new role, there’s a lot of listening, learning and asking questions.

Do you perform your work in a cubicle, office or open workspace? Please describe what’s on your desk at this moment.

I work in two locations. My Marketing & Communications department has office space in Silver Spring, Md., where I work in a cubicle. We’re currently in the midst of a (socially distant!) move to a newer building in downtown Silver Spring. Items on my desk include: my go-to notebook, multiple Pilot G2 pens, post-its, succulents (real and fake), photos of family and friends, cards from coworkers, essential oils, and a stack of magazines featuring our print ads.

I also go to the main hospital location in D.C., where my department shares a small open workspace. Depending on my schedule, I could be at the hospital anywhere from a few times a month to a few times a week. Typically, I’m there to attend meetings with my division contacts, manage production shoots, or attend events.

In one sentence please describe what work/life balance means to you.

Not allowing work to get in the way of personal priorities.

Use one word to describe how you practice self-care.


How do you re-charge at work?

I like to step away from the office and take a short walk outside or grab some coffee with a colleague.