Jean Gaddy Wilson

CEO at Position the Future Consultants

Jean Gaddy Wilson, BJ '66

Degree(s): BJ '66

Whereabouts: United States, Alexandria, Virginia

What do you do?
I counsel a variety of organizations – Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and contractors, human rights groups, colleges and universities, health care organizations – enabling them to create understandings of the future, develop media campaigns, create plans and strategies. This is to position those organizations to adapt fast to future opportunities and threats. The news think tank I founded and directed at the Missouri School of Journalism, New Directions for News, initiated the first commercial online newspaper and produced one of the earliest websites on the Web.

What other leadership and academic roles have you held in your career?
I have played a lead role in creating four national organizations: the Council of Presidents for newspaper editorial executives; the National Women in Media Collection, housed in MU’s Western Historical Manuscript Collection; Journalism and Women’s Symposium; and the International Women’s Media Federation. Additionally, my study, “Taking Stock: Women in the Media in the 21st Century,” became a landmark that measured the employment of women across print and broadcast media. I also have continued work on behalf of women and minorities as a co-author of the book Working with Words, along with Brian Brooks and Jim Pinson. My chapter on “Sexism, Racism and Other Isms in the Language” is an industry standard.

How did you get your job?
My first journalism job was director of public information for Columbia College while putting my husband through law school. It turns out that helping Columbia College manage a turnaround with “branded” writing, video, publications and great photography from photojournalism students was a great launching pad for a national/international career. All institutions have to revitalize … or fail to exist.

What is the best professional lesson you learned at the J-School?
Never, never, never give up.

What advice do you have for current students?
Futurists say to prepare for eight careers. With journalism positions, I would suggest you prepare for more than 20 career shifts in your future. And, learning Chinese would be a good step.

How have you maintained your Missouri roots?
Our Gaddy family has created three scholarship funds at Missouri honoring my father and mother, both alumni from the early 1940’s: the Herschel J. Gaddy Scholarship in Agronomy, the Dona N. Stiles Gaddy Scholarship in Nursing, and for my late husband, the Judge Rick R. Wilson Scholarship in Law. I received the University’s lifetime achievement award, the Faculty-Alumni Award in 2008. Along with the dean of the School of Journalism, Dean Mills, I co-chair the National Women and Media Collection committee, dedicated to preserving women journalists’ history.

Updated: November 15, 2011