Andrea Peel Makes A Pitch for UAMS

it has been said that from sports we can learn discipline, perseverance and teamwork, all values necessary to lead a successful public relations team, and all values andrea peel—director of communications for university of arkansas for medical sciences—has in the bag.

Born and raised in central Iowa into a family of avid and competitive sports enthusiasts, Andrea Peel says her family’s love of sports runs deep. They’ve even scheduled entire vacations around large sporting events, like the Super Bowl, the Final Four, the U.S. Open and the college football BCS championship game. It was because of sports, in a roundabout way, that Peel came to Arkansas.

“My brother went to the U of A basketball camp (under Eddie Sutton) the summer before his senior year. He fell in love with the campus, and one year later, arrived as a college freshman,” Peel said. “During my first trip to visit him, I knew I’d follow. My four years at the UofA were life changing. I met so many wonderful people and saw a world I had only seen glimpses of beforehand. Arkansas and its people were so welcoming. I found where I wanted to be.”

Peel obtained her bachelor’s degree in journalism and had every intention of following her childhood dream of becoming a television sports broadcaster. “But at the time I graduated,” she said, “very few TV stations were open to having female sports broadcasters.”

So she took a job as a television producer and graphic artist at B&F Advertising and made the move from Fayetteville to Little Rock, where she met her husband, Rodney, a native of Little Rock. The couple has a little girl, Braxton, and Peel says that the two are the center of her life. “Being a wife and mother is very rewarding. Through [Rodney and Braxton] I’ve realized it’s the small things that mean the most.”

Peel began working for UAMS in 2002 as communications manager and was promoted to director of communications in 2006. In that role, she directs UAMS external and internal communications, including media and public relations, answers media requests and facilitates publicity about UAMS news. She also oversees major UAMS’ public and employee events. She’s got her hands full, but she’s a master at the balancing act.

“I unplug at the gym and during my daughter’s activities. When I’m doing either of these two things, I’m completely engrossed, taking refuge from work and life’s stresses,” she said. “Being in public relations, you’re pretty much on-call 24/7, but unless my phone rings, I’m very good at leaving work at work. Home is for my family.

PLAYING BALL

Best day at work?

It was witnessing a friend wake up from brain surgery after he was told from a physician from a different hospital that his tumor was inoperable and benign. Dr. M Gazi Yasargil not only removed the tumor, but found it to be cancerous. This friend is now a five-year cancer survivor. If it weren’t for my position at UAMS, I wouldn’t have known how to help him. UAMS rewards me with a lot of “best” days.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

“Always be true to yourself and stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone.” As long as I do these two things, I believe the rest will take care of itself and I’ll always be able to look myself in the mirror and be at peace.

Your advice for young, up-and-coming professional women?

Never doubt yourself or your ability to impact the world. Attitude is everything. “Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see the shadows.” –Helen Keller

Local organizations or nonprofits?

I currently serve on the UALR Trojans Athletics Foundation board and Fulbright PTA board. I am co-chair of SpectacUALR 2010 and volunteer for the March of Dimes, American Heart Association, Jr. Achievement, VIPs and Hillcrest Softball League. I’m also a member of Public Relations Society of America.

 

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