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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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