Faculty Spotlight – Erin Smith

Erin Hurley Smith, Adjunct Instructor

How long have you been teaching at Simpson and what do you teach?

I began teaching at Simpson in January. I teach COMM 222 Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communication which primarily focuses on the core principles of strategic public relations. I also facilitate COMM 360 the senior seminar capstone experience which involves real-world client campaigns and helps prepare students for professional work in a marketing agency or within a company or organization.

Do you work outside of Simpson? 

I’ve accepted an offer to serve in a newly created leadership position at ChildServe, a nonprofit organization that partners with families to help children with special health care needs live a great life.

I will provide marketing communications support to other leaders within ChildServe and guide a talented team of young professionals with graphic design, web, social media and public relations experience. Plus, I will continue to have the opportunity to teach in Simpson’s EWG Program.

Where did you graduate?

I grew up in Beaverdale and graduated from Dowling High School in 1989. I earned my bachelors degree in Communications from Boston College in 1993. From there, I moved to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University where I earned my masters in science in Broadcast News after gaining field experience in Chicago and Washington, D.C. 


What makes teaching at Simpson unique?

Simpson provides a very supportive environment and is truly focused on the success of each student. The small class sizes at Simpson remind me of my graduate class at Northwestern, which had only 13 students. The rich tradition of Simpson and school colors remind me of my Boston College days.

What do you enjoy most about working with adult students?

I appreciate their intrinsic motivation and commitment to furthering their education despite the challenges of balancing college, work and family. Adult students are eager to see how concepts in class apply in real-world situations and to learn more about marketing communications professions.

Please tell us about your background and how it influences the way you teach communications?

I began my career as a television and radio reporter and anchor in Fargo, North Dakota. In 1992, I had the opportunity to return to my hometown of Des Moines to work for KCCI-TV as a weekend anchor and nightside reporter. After the birth of my first child, I transitioned from in front of the camera to advising business and community leaders on how to effectively work with the media.

After the birth of my second son, I started my own marketing communications consulting firm serving the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Jordan Creek Town Center, special projects such as the Principal Charity Classic, and several nonprofits. 

Please tell us about your family and how you like to spend your free time.

My husband Chris works for Hertz Farm Management in the real estate division, valuing and selling Iowa farmland. We have five active children ranging in age from 11 to 16 so our weekends are often spent at the ballpark or in the gym or at the track watching the kids in motion and trying to keep up with the laundry so their uniforms are ready for game time.

What is your favorite vacation spot, favorite book, and/or favorite film?

A favorite family vacation spot for the kids is Lake Okoboji, which is home to annual reunions. 

A new favorite getaway for us is the coast of Maine for postcard perfect views, spectacular sunset sails, fresh lazy-style lobster and rich blueberry ice cream.

The last book I read with the kids was “How to survive Middle School,” which is very clever, up next is “Brains on Fire,” a marketing book about how to ignite word of mouth movements.

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