Virginia’s Kim Loehr uses communication skills to help promote safety for two organizations

One of the highlights of hosting a weekly blog is getting to know some of the outstanding NFPW members better. I met Kim Loehr at an NFPW conference and was amazed at all her accomplishments and I just knew a portion of the things she has done. She is an outstanding communicator who is active in many worthwhile activities. My friend’s daughter-in-law was struck by lightning several years ago and she has been in a coma ever since. I applaud the efforts Kim is doing in helping raise the awareness of lightning safety. Kim is helping to make a difference in our world. Enjoy getting to know unique and unbelievable Kim Loehr.

Name: Kimberly (Kim) Loehr

Kim Loehr

Kim Loehr

City and State: Richmond, VA

Affiliate and any leadership positions:

I’ve served as a conference co-chairperson for Virginia Professional Communicators (formerly Virginia Press Women).

Industry and community leadership positions:

Past president/current board member, United Lightning Protection Association (ULPA), Board member/registered continuing education course provider, Lightning Safety Alliance (LSA), Three term board director for the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Central Virginia, Two term board director for the Richmond Catholic Diocese Advisory School Board, Alumnae class correspondent, Saint Gertrude High School.

Years a member of NFPW:

I think it’s been about ten years.

Tell us a little about you.

I’m married to the love of my life, Bobby Jones, who played professional hockey as a goalie for the Richmond Renegades many years ago and is now a partner at Westover Bon Air Insurance. Together we have five sons, (mine: ages 19, 21 and 28) and his (20 and 23). I’m a Richmond native, born and raised and still live and work in my hometown of Bon Air. I have a B.A. in Journalism from Radford University and would love to head back to school for a masters degree some day when I’ve finished educating the boys.

I’m working two full-time positions: vice president at Loehr Lightning Protection Co. Inc. in Richmond, and as communications director for the not-for-profit Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) based in Maryville, MO. My industry work includes serving as a partnership member on the NOAA/National Weather Service Lightning Safety Awareness Team. I’m responsible for PR efforts and events in connection with “National Lightning Safety Awareness Week” which NOAA sponsors annually each June. Before the campaign began in 2001, lightning was responsible for more deaths than hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes combined. Meeting lightning victims who have survived horrific injuries has really changed my outlook about the industry and influenced the focus of my work. I’m pleased to say that our LSA Week campaign has been instrumental in reducing deaths, injuries and even property damage across the country. It’s work that I’m very passionate about. (Lightning deaths in the U.S. were at an all-time record low of 23 in 2013.) I was honored to receive a Certificate of Appreciation by NOAA in August of 2009 for “Personal dedication and outstanding contributions to the National Weather Services’ Lightning Safety Awareness efforts.

My love for journalism began at St. Gertrude High School, where I served as a youth correspondent for the “Young Virginians” section of The Richmond News Leader. As a teen correspondent, I enjoyed an introduction to interviewing, reporting and deadlines. (And yes, we typed on electric typewriters with carbon paper back then.) The community news assignments provided a sneak peek into an exciting world where I could meet fascinating people and learn about new happenings in the city. Oftentimes I felt like Nancy Drew (my childhood heroine) heading out to solve a mystery; especially the time I worked “undercover” on a story about modeling scams in Richmond. The youth correspondent experience helped pave the way for other freelance jobs I took over the years, including writing and designing the Pulse newsletter for the Virginia Department of Health and writing for my community newspaper, The Chesterfield Observer.

Kim Loehr during an interview for the Today Show.

Kim Loehr during an interview for the Today Show.

While I enjoyed reporting, I discovered that I LOVED public relations and marketing. My first high profile job in PR was as marketing communications specialist for small appliance giant Hamilton Beach/Proctor-Silex. While at HB/PS I wore many hats, serving as a copywriter, PR manager, trade show coordinator and marketing representative. I wrote just about everything imaginable, including: press releases, box and catalog copy, corporate statements and speeches, magazine ads and even “Use and Care” manuals for the appliances. When family obligations forced me to leave my full-time position, the company kept me on as a freelance copywriter and then offered me a spot as the on-air company spokesperson for home shopping networks, QVC and Value Vision. The gal HB/PS had hired was smart and lovely, but she didn’t know how to use the appliances and didn’t know a thing about cooking — you just can’t fake that stuff in an eight minute live TV spot  As a copywriter, I typically took the appliances home so I could work with them, learn the feature/benefits, do a little recipe development for the PR angle and also manage to feed hungry kids. So, when HB/PS was in a panic for a new on-air spokesperson, I was waiting in the wings–apron on and ready to go. It was an awesome experience and my kids got a kick out of seeing me cook on TV.

Any career advice you would give?

I’m probably the worst person to give advice, but I do have a great work ethic, so I can see that quality has really paid off in my career. My advice to young people: work and act with a sense of urgency. Write your to-do-list and get it done It sounds so basic, but sometimes it seems as though the sense of urgency to make a decision, finish a project, complete a budget, etc. has become a lost art. I’m a doer so I tend to get impatient when there’s too much debate and not enough action. I also think it’s important to be flexible, open-minded, have a sense of humor, roll with the punches and never burn bridges. I’ve worked in male-dominated industries most of my life, and since I’m surrounded by raucous guys at home, it’s safe to say that I’m not easily shocked or offended.

Kim Loehr being interviewed by a Tampa TV station.

Kim Loehr being interviewed by a Tampa TV station.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I really wish I could sing. I love music and have a great memory for lyrics and songs, but my husband says my singing is “challenged” even though I performed in choirs and Glee Club as a youth. It would be really nice if I had the “tech-savvy” gene that my youngest has, too.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

In my mind’s eye I see myself living in a little cottage on the water in a quiet little river town–or maybe in a cozy log cabin in the mountains. I love nature and the outdoors, and the older I get the stronger the urge to find that quiet little place in the sun.

What book are you reading?

I just finished reading White Oleander by Janet Fitch and found it to be a heartbreakingly honest and gripping tale of raw humanity. The story was told in a believable and compelling voice that really touched me. I picked this paperback up at a yard sale, so it was a definite score. I recently started reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It was a gift oldest son, who no doubt had an ulterior motive. (I have to admit that the book is speaking to me in ways, I hadn’t expected.) I gravitate toward fiction because it’s my favorite escape, but family members keep giving me self-help books as “gifts,” so what does that tell you?

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I think people who don’t know me might be surprised to learn that I love to dance (grew up taking ballet, tap and jazz). My secret wish is that I could become famous just to land a spot on my favorite show, “Dancing with the Stars ” I also love to cook and make my own pasta sauces and salad dressings which are pretty popular with friends and family. In my “former” life, I was a single mother, so I have great respect and appreciation for mothers who go it alone. I’ve walked in their shoes and understand the tough sacrifices we mothers have to lovingly make for our children. Oh, and I think it would surprise some of the gals to know that I have a passion for sports and used to play softball on rec leagues in college and then later in life for a women’s church team.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

The networking opportunities and the friendships are so important to me. I always leave a VPC or NFPW conference feeling energized and pumped up to conquer my next career challenge. Membership has provided the opportunity to meet and connect with a diverse group of smart, energetic, brave, savvy and kind women. I’m in awe of talents and accomplishments of these women and so enjoy reading and hearing their personal stories—some of these women, especially the “trailblazers” are truly amazing. They are such an inspiration and even though our views sometimes differ on topics and politics, I adore my fellow NFPW members and cherish our time together at conferences and events. I loved Marianne’s biography of the NFPW presidents. I read it on the plane ride home from Utah last year and just savored every story. I love reading Teri’s blog, too. Wow, do these women rock.

Ways to follow you:

Website: lightning-risk.org

Facebook: Building Lightning Safe Communities, Loehr Lightning Protection and personal page

Twitter: Kimberly Loehr @lightningkim

Email kiml@lightning.org

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