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Professor Profile: Amy McCoy

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This fall, Drake University is welcoming Assistant Professor Amy Lorentzen McCoy to the Drake family. She will be teaching strategic political communication and public relations courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, becoming the second current strategic political communication professor and the fourth current public relations professor.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a more important time for people to be good political communicators and make sure that people have an ethical, accurate and full message in a way that’s packaged that they can actually do something about it,” Amy McCoy said. 

A Blair, Nebraska native, Professor McCoy brings a wealth of experience with her to Drake. Soon after graduating from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln with a bachelor’s in philosophy, she began working for the Associated Press, covering state and national politics and campaigns.

“I got into a great news writing class with a fantastic professor who got me connected with the AP bureau in Omaha. Then I took an intern position and I took sports scores every weekend,” McCoy said. “It was not glamorous, but I got to know the staff. I started writing news briefs and it just took off from there. I started doing that [around 2000] and then in 2002, knowing that the caucuses were going to be coming through Iowa, I knew I wanted to cover politics.”

McCoy was the one of the AP reporters assigned to the 2008 Iowa caucuses and recalled the dynamics of the press corps on caucus night. In addition to the AP, McCoy has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and many other top newspapers globally.

“I was the AP reporter who was helping cover the caucuses at that time with my colleague, Mike Glover, who was my mentor, who is Professor (Jennifer) Konfrst’s dad, so small world. On caucus night, it was a big toss up on what was going to happen with Democrats, whether or not it would be Clinton or Obama,” McCoy said. “He and I did some switching around and I ended up with the Obama camp and I had to literally buy my plane ticket on the bus from the convention center to the airport to be able to get on the plane. And because I was the AP reporter, I got the first question.”

After working for the AP for over a decade, McCoy transitioned to freelancing and government relations.

“My first four years I stayed at home with my children and did freelance writing. So that was a juggle to find the right freelance opportunities that could still bring in the income that we needed,” McCoy said. “And at the same time, I had a child who had some pretty significant medical needs, so I was so happy to have the opportunity to be there for him. Those early years were really important, I could not have enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom more, we had so much fun.”

Post-freelancing, McCoy served as the spokesperson and information officer for the Iowa Department of Human Services, the legislative liaison for the Iowa Department of Public Health, and, most recently, as public affairs manager for Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, better known as DART. In the private sector, McCoy has worked as the communications director for West Des Moines-based grocery store chain Hy-Vee, one of the largest employers in Iowa.

McCoy is currently pursuing a master’s degree in journalism at Drake, but she does not feel that her lack of a graduate degree disconnects her from fellow faculty members or takes away from her ability to teach students and set them up for success.

“I have some hesitancy because I haven’t yet had the opportunity to achieve that graduate degree. But the faculty were so supportive and wonderful about saying, ‘You’ve had all this amazing life experience, you have done all of the things that you are going to ask students to think about and do,’” McCoy said. “I have felt nothing but people being accepting of the career experience that I’ve had and very excited for me that I get to do the master’s program.”

The aspect of Drake that McCoy is most excited about is, of course, the students. She wants to drive home the point that every Bulldog can be a changemaker.

“I would like them to feel like they really can make a difference,” McCoy said. “You know, they have so many opportunities to affect the world in so many different ways. No matter what position you’re in. You don’t even have to necessarily be in a public affairs position or communications position. If you just went into a business position, if you’re a great communicator, you can probably help your entire team understand how not only their process works in the business, but like, ‘Hey, this is a policy that could possibly be changed up on the Hill that could make our business better, that could help other people.’”

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