Guest blog by Elizabeth Chu, Social Media Specialist and Acting Website Editor-in-Chief, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
As the Social Media Specialist for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), I am responsible for planning, implementing, and monitoring the agency’s social media strategy to increase brand awareness and strengthen our digital presence. Recently, I stepped in as the Acting Website Editor-in-Chief, due to the recent departure of a colleague. Adding website responsibilities and new skills to my current role as Social Media Specialist—all during a pandemic—has been a whirlwind, to say the least. Luckily, I’m surrounded by generous, dedicated, and talented colleagues in the Office of the Chief Communications Officer who help and support me when I need it. It’s a privilege to work side-by-side with professional and expert communicators in a fast-paced work environment.
My parents and sisters immigrated to the United States from South Korea in the 1980s. I was born in North Carolina, but my family moved to Maryland when I was very young and raised me there. Growing up, my parents and sisters have always been my main influences. Like most first-generation immigrants, my parents worked hard, long days in blue-collar jobs. Watching them, I learned that diligence, honesty, and a good education were important for a successful career and life. I feel fortunate to have a family that’s supportive of all my passions and career pursuits.
I studied art history at the University of Maryland and, after graduation, started my first full-time job in Washington, D.C. Halfway through my three years at the National Gallery of Art, I applied to an arts management program at American University. After receiving a Master of Arts in arts management, I began working for the Washington Ballet (TWB) in the marketing and communications department where I gained a lot of marketing and communications experience. Nonprofit arts organizations are fast-paced, hardworking entities with limited budgets. Supporting the arts was a fulfilling experience because I could share my passion for the arts every day with others. Although I no longer work for arts organizations, I still seek volunteer opportunities with museums or studio arts classes.
Transitioning from a small, nonprofit arts organization to a federal agency with over 13,000 employees was initially nerve-racking, but it’s been one of the most rewarding changes of my life. Not only do I have the pleasure of working with a creative and talented team of communicators at the USPTO, but I have also had the unique opportunity to work on award-winning projects such as 10 Million Patents and the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. The former is a significant milestone that we planned for and executed over a multi-month timeline with a detailed communications plan. The campaign culminated with an official signing ceremony at the White House and a special event at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The moon landing event was significant to me because I led and coordinated the communications plan for that project. Our focus was on space innovation, technology transfer from the Apollo missions, and an overview of the current Administration policy on space exploration and space commerce. This communications plan culminated in one of the biggest events in recent USPTO history and featured the NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. These were projects were successful because of the extremely talented and knowledgeable communicators on my team.
Working on major, successful campaigns that help educate the public about the importance of intellectual property is an honor and privilege. It is especially rewarding that I get to do this work with over 13,000 other colleagues dedicated to American innovation and who work hard everyday on behalf of inventors, makers, and creators across the United States.
I am proud to work in public service at the U.S Patent and Trademark Office because I know that my efforts to educate the public and raise public awareness support innovators of all ages, genders, and backgrounds.
Editorial Note: This post is part of a series in honor of Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW), showcasing the vast and diverse work of Commerce employees collectively working together to deliver important services that are helping the American economy grow.