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Taryn Fort

Senior Director of Communications at the Colorado Health Foundation

Best career advice you ever got?

“Go nonprofit.” I had a mentor who recognized the passion I was bringing to the for-profit sector would center me professionally if I was aligned with a mission. My mentor was right, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the push into the nonprofit sector.

Favorite thing about your job?

I love being on the ground in Colorado, hearing stories and seeing communities. The mission comes to life through seeing how Coloradans are really live and how they think about health. I’m a better storyteller because of this, and it changes how I think about our overall brand experience and what we want people to remember about us.

If you weren’t doing this, what job would you have?

I’m passionate about supporting the nonprofit sector’s gap in valuing and understanding strategic communications. I’d love to create a curriculum for our grantees that enables them to strengthen communications skills that contribute to sustainability. If I couldn’t do that, I would focus on writing a book of short stories about my family.

What’s something work-related that keeps you up at night?

Lots of things keep me up at night, especially if I’m behind on a deadline. This job requires a 24-hour mental frame. But, if I have a tough management issue, that can be very all-consuming.

Most memorable Communications Network experience?

The first time I met a fellow health foundation communications director who I’d gotten to know by phone. It was the beginning of how I built and maintain my network through ComNet, and it was rewarding to finally engage in person.

Your most overused word or phrase?

“In my opinion.”

Best thing you’ve read/watched/listened to recently?

NPR’s CodeSwitch podcast has been hugely influential in my journey with understanding and learning more about equity issues.

Guilty pleasure?

Wine. Wine. Wine.

How do you define success?

I want to leave every day feeling satisfied that my work matters, that I make the right judgments for our mission and that my staff are learning what they will need for the next job they enter.

Most important thing you’ve learned in the last five years?

Team performance is not just about my performance or up to my skills and abilities. It’s my job to build the strongest, smartest and most passionate team possible.

What are you most interested in learning from your colleagues in The Network — and what could folks learn from you?

I love talking through my challenges with my peers. It feels like therapy. Likewise, I am fortunate to work at an organization that is progressive and willing to take risks with strategic communications. I enjoy sharing my learning with complex or risky ventures.

How has The Network been helpful to your work/your career? And why?

The Network has enabled me to build my social change communications network. It’s essential and tremendously valuable in my role as a strategic communications professional and balances out my personal need for a support network of like-minded and like-challenged (my word) individuals.

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