Deborah Millman (B.A. '84)
Deborah Millman Q & A:
What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
My two favorite professors were Peter Koper, an extraordinary professor who gave students a real, rather than a textbook, insight into the world of journalism (and who went above and beyond as The Chronicle’s advisor) and Michael D’Innocenzo, an exceptional teacher and inspirational mentor who prompted me to pursue a dual major (communication arts and American history). If you can do so, take one of his classes, no matter what your major.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My first job was in the public relations department for the Long Island Lighting Company. Back then, the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant (built by LILCO but never operated) was very much in the news, since the feasibility of evacuating Long Island during a nuclear plant disaster was hotly debated. The job reinforced a valuable lesson that I had taken away from my studies at Hofstra – in communication, always be direct, frank and truthful. PR practitioners and journalists who “spin” or leave out vital information lose credibility. It is far better to say “I don’t know; I’ll find out for you” than to deceive clients or evade questions from the public or the press.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
After spending many years as a daily newspaper reporter, followed by work in public relations and as a magazine editor, my field of specialty is non-profit management, specifically animal-welfare related management, although I have held manager’s posts with a wide range of profit and non-profit organizations. Animal welfare resonates strongly with me; I derive a great deal of professional and personal pleasure from improving the lives of animals and the people with whom they co-exist. I entered the field after first volunteering, then serving on the board of directors for an animal welfare organization, which ignited my passion for the field.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Hofstra is a wonderful university with exceptional professors and easy access to one of the greatest cities in the world. Take full advantage of the many opportunities for advancement and personal fulfillment each provides. Aim high and enjoy! When it comes time to find a job, seek something that inspires and motivates you. Money is essential, but personal satisfaction will make getting up in the morning meaningful.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Quality (Quality education, quality connections, quality friendships and a quality experience).
How has your degree from Hofstra helped you?
Having a degree from a respected university like Hofstra opens doors that might otherwise not have been available to me. Seeing Hofstra on a resume indicates the applicant has met high admission standards and is dedicated to advancing his or her knowledge. I’ve also benefitted from the wonderful friendships I made there – my schoolmates (many of whom I still speak with often) are judges, journalists, inventors and heads of corporations. I was proud to know them then, and I am proud to know them still.
What is a typical work day like for an executive director at an animal rescue shelter?
After a decade of managing a large no-kill animal shelter, I am now director of Cape Wildlife Center, operated by The Humane Society of the United States. Cape Wildlife Center, based in Barnstable, MA, rescues and rehabilitates nearly 2,000 animals a year, representing 135 species of wildlife, including raccoons, squirrels, foxes, fishes, coyotes, hawks, seabirds, songbirds and many more. Each day is an adventure as we never know what species we will be treating next. I work with an exceptional team that includes a wildlife veterinarian, eminent wildlife researchers and skilled technicians, plus veterinarians and veterinary students from around the world who come here to learn more about wildlife medicine. My knowledge base expands every day, and I feel fortunate to be having the experiences and adventures my job affords. I am also very proud to be working for The Humane Society of the United States, a highly reputable and honorable organization with some of the greatest minds in the animal welfare field.
How has your job influenced your mentality as a person?
Doing what I enjoy has made me a happier, more fully developed person. Every day, I learn something new, and I continue to have new adventures, something I would have been less likely to experience with a “9 to 5” job. Following my interests, remaining true to my moral and professional values and eschewing mediocrity in favor of taking a chance on the exceptional has truly enriched my life.