Jacqueline Ortiz Ramsay, Master of Communicative Strategy, Leads NAFCU’s Communications Division

Coral Springs native, Jacqueline Ortiz Ramsay, earned a master’s degree in Mass Media and Communication in 2008. Since then, she has become a communicative strategy genius, working her way up to now serving as the Vice President and head of Media Relations and Communications at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU)   one of the top financial services trade associations in the United States.

While finishing her master’s, this spirited Seminole began her career interning in public relations at Ron Sachs Communications, now Sachs Media Group, and then went on to draft press releases and staff press events on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. She later became press secretary for President Obama’s second campaign in 2012, overseeing press outreach and events for south Florida and southwest Florida, working with English and Spanish-language media in communities from Fort Myers to Miami-Dade.

Jacqueline shifted her area of practice from the political sector to the financial services industry, becoming Vice President of Corporate Communications for Huntington National Bank. Among the youngest VPs at the bank, and the only Hispanic-American in her department, she was responsible for communication strategies for Huntington’s largest segment – retail and business banking. This job entailed developing integrated communications plans for product launches and branch acquisitions, managing messaging for the retail executive suite, and securing earned media for events related to the bank’s branch network.

It wasn’t long before she was needed again in the political sector. Jacqueline moved to Washington D.C. to join Congressman Tony Cárdenas as his Communications Director on Capitol Hill to run the Congressman’s communications operations, which included media relations, social media, speech writing, and web strategy.

Jacqueline then went on to serve as spokeswoman for the Consumer Bankers Association, where she provided communications counsel to the President and CEO of the Association on issues pertaining to the nation’s largest retail banks. The wide range of experiences Jacqueline gathered from her diverse positions paved the way for her ability to serve as a remarkable leader for the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions. She now oversees NAFCU’s media relations and communications division while powering the trade association’s political communications and messaging strategy. Whether it be her charismatic energy, meticulous attention to detail, wisdom in communicative strategizing, or all the above; Jacqueline earned her spot as one of the youngest head of communications amongst the major financial trade groups. To learn more about this inspiring alumna, continue reading our Q&A with her. 

Who do you admire and why?

I admire people who are unafraid to speak up for what’s right, no matter the social backlash. It takes courage to say what you believe, especially when you’re alone in that belief. And I truly admire those who maintain a sense of humility no matter their successes, and deep gratitude regardless of the challenges life has thrown their way.

What is the best account to follow on social media?

Paulo Coelho, my favorite author, offers writing tips and the best quotes for inspiration.

What is your favorite office snack?

Atomic fireball hard candies. A little spice in the afternoon gives me a quick pick-me-up without the jitters an extra cup of coffee would.

What Jeopardy category could you clear, no problem?

Musical instruments. I was classically trained for the piano and flute from an early age and was also part of marching and jazz bands throughout middle and high school.

Where do you look for inspiration?

A library or somewhere by the ocean. Being surrounded by books gives me motivation to write, but nothing clears my head like being near water under the sun.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

While watching CNBC, I once heard Warren Buffett in an interview say: “You can always tell someone to go to hell tomorrow.” This taught me to never react immediately to a negative situation. When we are upset, our response will usually be fueled by emotion, not logic or reason. We can end up saying or doing things we will regret. Taking a day to cool down and step away from that emotion gives us the time to process how we feel and what we’re thinking.

How did your education prepare you for your career?

Courses for my master’s degree were incredibly helpful, especially those with Dr. Felipe Korzenny and professor John Mayo. Still today, I leverage quantitative and qualitative insights and have been able to create integrated marketing and communications plans for large and small entities across various industries. However, I felt most prepared for my career by combining my courses with an internship at Sachs Media Group. It was there that I really learned what it would take to build a career in PR and communications.

How has working in your industry changed the way you look at the world?

Financial services and politics are notorious for presenting high-pressure and challenging environments. They’ve introduced me to people from all political affiliations and walks of life. I’ve learned that what we know about life depends on who we know and what we’ve seen. The more diverse you try and make your network, the better off you’ll be.

Share a notable experience you’ve had at work.

In a previous job, I once was tasked with presenting a major communications plan for a product launch to the institution’s CEO. As soon as I started presenting, the CEO, in front of a room full of executives, abruptly told me to stop and asked if I knew what I was doing. Like a deer in headlights, I was stunned and wasn’t sure how to respond. I looked up at him, my neck hot with embarrassment and fear, went straight to the heart of the plan and some how got through the remainder of the presentation. I felt like a kid in a room full of adults. But, I remained engaged with the executives throughout the meeting and, at the end, when the CEO was walking out, he said to me, “Great job.” This was a turning point because it was the exact moment I realized that the executives who invited me to do the presentation did so because they knew I could handle it.  It was their faith in my abilities that taught me it was time that I have faith in mine.

How do you handle work-life balance?

I don’t think there ever is a consistent true balance between work and life. To me, balance means give and take.  Political communications is a lifestyle. It often requires long hours and demanding assignments. Over the years, I learned the importance of setting boundaries and setting expectations with friends, family, and my bosses. As much as I love to give it my all, whether it be a project or helping out a friend, I am useless to others if I cannot care for myself. An executive once told me, “If you take time from your personal life for work, you must take time from work for your personal life.” I have lived up to her advice till this day.

What advice would you give yourself in college?

“Take counsel from your courage, not your fear. When an opportunity presents itself and if you are scared you cannot do it, do it anyway. And if you fail, don’t despair. Failure is something you have to eventually become comfortable with if you want to truly succeed at anything.”