Employee Spotlight: Natalie Bennon, Account Manager

Everyone has a story to tell, and Natalie’s talent is helping tell that story in a way that not only inspires intrigue, but also elevates the core values of the person or organization behind the story.

Natalie joined Gard as an account manager in 2018 after running her own public relations firm. She has a wide range of experience including communications strategy, grant writing, marketing and journalism. The thread that ties them together? Professional storytelling.

From reporting on policy and politics in Washington, D.C. to writing grants for The Nature Conservancy to raising funds for Pacific Rivers, Natalie’s stories are being heard and making a difference.

We asked Natalie a few questions to get to know her story.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

The teamwork at Gard is one of the most rewarding things about working here. Also, the focus on issues – crisis communication, behavior change, policy – satisfies me.

If you could choose anywhere in the world for the next company retreat, where would you take us – and what group activity would you most like to do?

Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. Or whitewater rafting down one of the Pacific Northwest’s great rivers. Or maybe a visit to the Galapagos? Or a cruise in the Mediterranean? So many options.

Of all your past experiences, whether personal, educational, or professional, what’s influenced you the best for what you do now?

My time as a journalist in D.C. has influenced me best for what I do now. It was trial by fire. I had to learn to keep calling until I got what I need, think creatively about who can help me get what I need, and then write it all down very quickly while making it interesting and minimizing errors. It was also, truthfully, a bit of an ego trip to have so many people want your attention. (I didn’t mind that part). I also became a very fast typist (I challenge anyone reading this to a typing duel).

What’s one thing about you that may surprise people?

My husband and I taught in Mexico for a year and when we decided to leave, the woman who owned the school basically ran us out of the country because I dared to tell the parents how poorly she treated the teachers. That was stressful. She filed a libel suit against me. And I learned a few things about the Mexican legal system.

For one, in Mexico, you are guilty until proven innocent. Also, libel is a criminal offense punishable by up to four years in prison (this makes it challenging for journalists to uncover corruption in Mexico). We hired an attorney that my husband had been playing pickup soccer with and paid him with $100 cash plus a printer we didn’t need anymore. And then we hightailed it out of town. We spent the rest of the year in Spain, which was fun but expensive. I’m still not 100% sure we’re allowed to return to Mexico. This woman is wealthy and politically connected. But it’s probably fine…

Also, I got married at the Alaska Airlines ticket counter in the Tucson International Airport. A topic for another blog post.

What are you reading right now? What’s next on your reading list?

Right now I’m reading Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver. I just finished, and really enjoyed, Martin Marten by Brian Doyle, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. Next in my pile is The List by Patricia Forde (which my 11-year-old son tells me is excellent).