Member Spotlight: Emily Major

Emily Major PhotoBy Shayna Keyles

An IABC volunteer-turned-member, Emily Major has spent the past six months directing social media efforts for the San Francisco chapter. She’s used her time in this role to encourage SF IABC members to strengthen their relationships using online channels, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Emily explained that some of her favorite aspects of the communications field are tied to its multidisciplinary nature. She spoke about how she has been able to put her background in art, English, and academia to good use, and how exploring local communities is one of the best ways to learn and grow personally and professionally.  

What first attracted you to IABC?

I attended a Content Strategy Meetup event in San Francisco that happened to be co-sponsored by SF IABC. I had been looking to get more involved in a local, professional community and, after I learned more about IABC, it seemed like a great fit. I started as a volunteer on the communications team and was welcomed into a group of friendly and dedicated fellow volunteers. This sense of community is what led me to sign up as an official member.

Can you reflect on the past six months you’ve spent working as the Social Media Director for the SF IABC chapter? What projects have you particularly enjoyed?

Jumping in as the social media director was a great way to get to know fellow members and learn about the events and programs that SF IABC organizes and co-sponsors. Although I haven’t been able to attend many of the morning or mid-day events, our social media channels have allowed me to engage by advertising the events and sharing photos and highlights afterward. I launched an Instagram account for SF IABC, which complements our Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ channels. I’ve had a lot of fun with Instagram because the focus on photos is great for celebrating members and SF IABC activities.

What are the most useful lessons you have learned from your time with IABC?

Serving on the SF IABC board for the past six months or so has been especially interesting because I’m reminded of the extent to which the communications field spans so many industries and specialties. The opportunities to learn from my fellow board members and IABC members seem endless. I attended a recent Networking Nine dinner in San Francisco and really enjoyed sharing experiences with other communicators who work in technology, finance, education, and other fields.

You’ve spent the past decade working closely with arts academic institutions, most recently fundraising for California College of the Arts. What drew you to art and education? How did you wind up in your current role?

I studied English and Art History in college and went on to get a master’s degree in English literature. During that time I learned about academic publishing as an intern at Stanford University Press and University of California Press; I worked at university art museums at Berkeley and University of Virginia; and I worked as a writing instructor at UVA’s Writing Center. Along the way I met like-minded people who shared a passion for art (both visual and literary) and education. At CCA, we raise money for student scholarships to support talented young people who would not otherwise be able to afford college. In this role I’m able to support both education and the arts in a way that’s really rewarding.

Do you have any advice for other new members of the SF IABC chapter? What would you say to someone who is undecided about joining the chapter?

Based on my own experience, I would encourage new members to take advantage of as many chapter events and opportunities as possible. Getting to know members at a Networking Nine dinner or an Independent Communicators’ Roundtable event is a great way to network and have fun at the same time. I’d also encourage new members, as well as anyone who’s undecided about joining, to explore open volunteer positions. Volunteering is an ideal way to get a feel for the chapter before committing to membership.


  1. Thank you for the wonderful profile of member Emily Major, who has been such an innovative influence for SF IABC, and for me personally, in her social media efforts as a chapter volunteer. Emily has taken SF IABC’s communications to a new level. I have learned a ton from her, and as a longtime IABC member, it is great to see people like Emily get involved in our profession. Kudos to you, Shayna and Emily!

  2. The first question in Emily’s member profile has an answer from many people, I’m sure, the welcoming nature of the photograph and the profile of Emily’s career and involvement in SF IABC. Great job, Shayna, and congratulations, Shayna. Wonderful!

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