NAME: Lauren Worley
WHO IS SHE: Global Newsroom Leader at Procter & Gamble
At what age did you leave Cincinnati, and when did you return?
I grew up in Adams County, graduated high school in 1997, and went to college at Kent State. Then I lived in Columbus and later moved to Washington, D.C., to work at NASA. I’d always worked in communications for campaigns and government, so it made sense to live in those two places. I came back in 2017.
And you moved from Ohio to work as Press Secretary and Senior Advisor for NASA? How did that opportunity arise?
I’d worked for the Ohio Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and Ohio has been an important state in terms of aviation and aerospace, from the Wright brothers to John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, the NASA Glenn Center up in Cleveland, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. My heritage of being an Ohioan was interesting to them. And so much of what NASA does is also based on the work that small businesses do, so my experience having done communications around economic development was interesting to them. I wasn’t hired for my science background.
It’s a certain kind of pressure working for a political press shop. Did you feel that you had the unique sort of skills and demeanor to make that transition to a body like NASA?
Yes. And I think, being an Ohioan, I grew up in a place where not everyone thinks the same way. We’re pretty conciliatory and collaborative in how we approach problems. This is a purpose state, politically. We’ve got Republicans, Democrats, and independents, and it’s having the ability to work with people who don’t always agree with you that makes you successful in doing a job where you’re communicating about the NASA budget or priorities and space exploration.
What were your day-to-day duties there?
I was primarily responsible for the Administrator’s and the Deputy Administrator’s communications. If they were out giving speeches, I was a travel companion and traveling press and I’d make sure all the logistics were prepared and media interviews were coordinated. When we traveled internationally, I worked with embassy staff to make sure we were aligned and briefed.
Why did you return?
A wise person said to me, If you find your people, you’ll find your purpose. That hit me right square in the face, because I was like, I think my people are at home. What stuck out to me—and I don’t know that I fully appreciated when I left the Cincinnati area, but I appreciate it now—is how many purpose-driven people live and work and create art and social impact in our city. It’s unique to Cincinnati.
Were you excited to return, or hesitant? A little of both?
I was doing some soul searching, and I really wanted to live in a place where what I did mattered. Sometimes it was hard to find a place to fit in in a big city like D.C. I didn’t come back to Cincinnati with a job. I felt like I had enough of a connection still with so many people here that I knew people would be helpful to me, and I knew I’d be able to translate my communication skills to doing something productive. I became Chief Communications and Engagement Officer at Cincinnati Public Schools, the kind of influential position I didn’t anticipate being able to get. That wasn’t even on my radar.
And now you’ve been at P&G for a year and a half. How has working for such an iconic Cincinnati company changed your perspective on the city’s history as well as its corporate future?
My great-grandmother immigrated to Cincinnati from Bavaria, and she worked as the cook for the Procter family. The idea that you could in three or four generations go from being the cook for the family to being on the team, I mean, it doesn’t get more Cincinnati than that.
For us, P&G is a Cincinnati company, but Geneva or Tokyo also has P&G as their brand and their company. We have an outsized responsibility here in our hometown to continue doing really important things supporting local organizations, as well as an outsized responsibility for all the communities we touch throughout the world. What I think so amazing is seeing how we can have a small-town approach while also tackling global problems. Representation and media, for example. We want to see more diverse people and people of color on the screen, in front of the screen, and behind the screen, right? Well, in one of our Olay ads that just ran, it features Honour Hook, who owns BrowOTR, a microblading bar in Over-the-Rhine. So it’s like, Don’t just use words, actually do it.
How has Cincinnati changed since you left?
You did not drive through OTR when I was a teenager, and now it’s the magnetic center. The city has changed in many ways, but that didn’t happen by accident. It happened by planning and by good people being involved.
How is it the same as before?
We still haven’t won the World Series, and the Bengals haven’t won the Super Bowl. Our sports teams are an easy example of something that we can all connect over. And, boy, you still get the same chili at Camp Washington Chili and Chili Time in St. Bernard.
What’s your favorite new discovery since returning?
One of the hidden gems I had no idea about was King Records. I’ve loved learning about its history because everything is personal here. I’m distantly related to Cowboy Copas, and he recorded there. I like to say Cincinnati is the most sampled city, whether you eat our chili once or a bunch of times or you’ve ever heard the Isley Brothers sampled in songs. Whether people outside realize it or not, we are on the map. That’s something I did not appreciate until I moved back.
What keeps you here now?
This city delivers, and what we do matters. I think that’s the big thing, right? And wonderful people live here, too. I plan to live here. I don’t have any plans to move again. I want to continue to have my family here. Just like that person said I would, I found my people and my purpose.