This article was originally featured in The News-Enterprise on Wednesday, November 8, 2017.

When Elizabethtown Tour­ism & Convention Bureau Com­munications Director Jes­si­ca Gowen was attending the University of Louisville, she wit­nessed a lecture she said changed her career trajectory. The lecture was from digital strategist and keynote speaker Jason Falls.

Gowen said his lecture inspired her to obtain a degree in communications after her initial plan of becoming an English teacher.

“I thought it was the coolest thing ever, so I immediately went back and changed my major,” she said.

A few years later, Gowen once again met Falls at a meeting for the Young Professionals Network of Hardin County. How­ever, this time Gowen already was well on her way with a career working on the front end of the Elizabethtown Tourism & Convention Bur­eau’s social media presence.

Gowen has served as communications director since 2014 and has managed social media, launched the organization’s app, wrote news releases and has taken on many other responsibilities.

For Gowen, reaching the community through social media has been a highlight of her job.

“I think that social media serves a great, positive purpose,” she said. “It connects us with everyone. You can talk with anybody right at your fingertips.”

Gowen grew up in LaRue County and graduated from LaRue County High School before attending U of L. Gowen said initially, she wanted to be an investigative journalist with her communications degree, taking on an internship at WDRB and later accepting a position on the news team of Elizabethtown radio station 94.3 The WULF after her graduation in 2013.

However, Gowen said she soon found news reporting wasn’t what she wanted to do with her degree.

“I love the news and I eat, sleep and breathe the news, but I don’t want to work in the news,” Gowen said.

However, Gowen said her experience in newsrooms help­ed her with some of the skills she uses in her current position.

“I learned that I didn’t really like to interview people and I didn’t want to be in front of the camera, but I loved to be in the editing room,” she said. “I got to edit a lot of video and that’s actually helped me a lot here.”

Gowen soon worked at The Cecilian Bank as a customer support specialist and later as an internet support specialist before applying with Elizabethtown Tourism & Con­vention Bureau.

Gowen also gained experi­ence working as a social me­dia consultant for Gowen Produc­tions, which is the production com­pany of her father, Dinky Go­wen, who is a magician. Go­wen said she often would take part in her father’s shows when she was younger.

“I used to get cut up and put in boxes,” Gowen said.

Gowen said though she had prior experience in communications before being hired on with Elizabethtown Tourism & Convention Bureau, she had to constantly learn new skills on the job such as graphic design and programs such as Photoshop.

“You have to wear a lot of hats when you work in communications,” she said.

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