Dukes who work at Carter Ryley Thomas PR flank the company’s “high five” sign, (l-r) Julie Breissinger (’01), Jonathan Rhudy (’95), Natalie Glatfelter Smith (’85) and Christian Markow (’93). The high-five sign is a party favor left over from CRT’s fifth anniversary party and parade held in the streets of Richmond.

Carter Ryley Thomas, now that’s good PR

JMUWorks: Workplaces and fun places peopled by JMU alumni

Carter Ryley Thomas has been named “Hottest Creative Shop,” “Best Work Environment,” “Best Mid-Sized PR Firm in the U.S.” and “Number One PR Firm to Work for in America.” So, it stands to reason that there are some Dukes behind all of that success.

Although CRT only employs about 50 people in its Virginia offices, four of those are JMU grads. Jonathan Rhudy (’95) and Natalie Glatfelter Smith (’85) are senior associates; Christian Markow (’93) and Julie Breissinger (’01) are associates. All say that their college experience contributed to their success at CRT.

“Working for three years on TheBreeze gave me the experience of writing, advertising and marketing the publication,” Rhudy says. “At one point I sold advertising, so that taught me the practical lessons of meeting deadlines and client expectations.”

Rhudy and Markow were fraternity brothers at JMU and reconnected at a public relations networking event in Richmond.

“I suggested that he come to work for CRT,” Rhudy says. “It helped that we had a connection, but of course he got the job on his own merit.”

Markow says that the best thing he learned at JMU was to be a thinker. “The culture at CRT is all about taking ownership and having the ability to take responsibility for a part of the company. I learned that concept first in college.”

Breissinger was an intern at Carter Ryley Thomas from May 2001 through the summer and was offered a full-time job in November. She and Markow are working on one of CRT’s biggest and most exciting projects — the Centennial of Flight celebration commemorating the Wright Brothers first flight.

“The Centennial of Flight national kickoff is Dec. 17, 2002, and special events and activities are planned for the whole year,” Breissinger says. “It culminates with the take off of a reproduction of the Wright Flyer in Kitty Hawk on the same day and same time that it happened 100 years ago.”
It may be surprising that a 23-year-old would have such a big project on her plate, but Breissinger is prepared. “Like JMU, the culture at CRT is very friendly and encourages growth in people. There is a lot of opportunity, and they are willing to give you what you need to succeed.”
One of the reasons CRT has consistently been named among the best places to work is its emphasis on the importance of family. The company has an on-site day-care center for associates’ children.

Smith uses the day-care center for her son, Spencer, 10 months, as does Rhudy for his daughter, Morgan, 9 months. Markow’s little boy, Owen, 10 months, comes in to visit on occasion, as well.

“It was really odd,” says Smith. “We had a complete baby boom here. Five associates had babies due within two weeks of each other.”
Smith says that having the on-site day care is a tremendous benefit to working at Carter Ryley Thomas.

“It’s great that I can pop down and give Spencer a hug, two or three times a day,” she says. “Knowing everything that is going on with him allows me to focus on my job. Also, public relations can be very demanding, so if I need to come in early or work late, he can just play in my office when the day care is closed.”

Rhudy agrees, “It’s great that our children are in day care together. They are our future Dukes.”


Story by Sande Snead Fulk (’82)


Publisher: Montpelier Magazine • For Information Contact: montpelier@jmu.edu