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Communications and Social Collaboration Leader

 Strategist, people manager, thought leader and multimedia content developer with expertise in social collaboration, educational and business communications, curriculum development, interactive gaming and advocacy.

Perpetual student of social and its application to improving business results for customers and employee audiences.

Highly organized, process-focused, results-driven leader with 25+ years of budget, vendor and personnel management. 

Passionate about educating and deepening relationships with target audiences, using traditional and innovative means to deliver content and messaging.

Work experience


Communications, Advocacy, Marketing and Social Strategy


Director, Social Advocacy and Collaboration   (2016-Present)   Responsible for sharing knowledge, raising awareness, stirring conversation and advocating for employees regarding the culture, technology, processes and employee experiences associated with workplace flexibility • As chief blogger, influencer and community manager, helped increase employee social conversation about workplace flexibility by more than 600 percent in 8 months • Built and populated an enterprise wiki and internal video channel for knowledge sharing, networking and crowd-sourced peer-to-peer support • Inspired, recruited and directed the work of others, including volunteers.

Director, Social Strategy   (2014-2016)   Led extended teams developing such social capabilities as internal collaboration and member social community • Led employee social education efforts and member social servicing initiative during social business launch • Responsible for audits and development of risk assessments • Managed unit budget • Served as social advocate through blogging and knowledge sharing on such topics as financial management, safety and use of social tools • Co-managed development budgets in excess of $10M • Supervised internal staff, vendors.

Director, Social Communities & Advocacy   (2011-2014)   Supervised team of community managers moderating USAA's presence in external online communities • Set social community strategy for maintaining and enhancing corporate reputation • Compiled procedures handbook for all social media operations, which served as basis for current social playbook and governance structure • Developed and led social education strategy and execution to employees at all levels of the enterprise • Led effort to recruit and onboard USAA's first social marketing and communications agency.

Advocacy Program Lead   (2010-2011)   Developed and led ambassador programs that leverage USAA's history as a word-of-mouth company, and empower members and employees to advocate for USAA • Organized first-ever onsite blogger event that included internationally recognized military and financial influencers.

Marketing Strategy Director   (2009-2010)   Developed marketing strategy for reaching young USAA members and their parents with financial and insurance products, services and advice • Coordinated tactics in research, corporate communications, retail marketing, product development, underwriting, and operations to support strategic growth goals for targeted audiences • Responsible for regularly reporting market performance drivers and actions to the Chief Marketing Officer and other executive management.

Youth Media Director   (2002-2009)    Recruited to manage the creative editorial development, production, and digital translation of editorial communication targeted to young USAA members, including three nationally recognized quarterly magazines, a podcast, online content, and social network presence  • Launched USAA's first podcast and social network presence • Responsible for all operations, process management, long-range strategic planning, and development budget of $3M+ • Supervised internal staff, creative service agencies, contactors, vendors, and freelance writers.


Youth Content Developer

American Girl Web Development Director   (1998 - 2002)   Managed and supervised development of editorial content for web presence in support of American Girl brands • Responsible for writing, assigning, editing, directing work done by off-site developers, and managing customer service • Set and documented policies and procedures • Set and managed development and overhead budgets of $3M • Supervised internal staff and creative freelance staff • Key member of the company's e-commerce launch team in 1999.

American Girl Magazine Editorial Team Member   (1992 - 1998)   Hired at launch as department writer/editor • Promoted to Managing Editor after one year • Managed day-to-day production for bimonthly issues • Led long-range content planning • Coordinated freelance stringers, researchers, proofreaders, and fact-checkers • Supervised mail processing staff, and provided bimonthly reader feedback analysis • Created organizational systems and procedures handbook for all magazine processes • Set and monitored budget.


Writer / Editor


Copywriter for “Kids & Things” catalog.

Editor for PastPorts®, a series of middle school social studies curriculum units on ancient cultures (No longer available).


Editor / Writer

Whittle Communications

Editor / Writer: Researched, assigned, wrote, and edited national publications for high school (Connections) and elementary students (The Big Picture) • Edited accompanying teachers’ guides • Managed student advisory boards • Contributed research and conceptual work to video and print projects in development for various niche audiences and clients, including Channel One, the first current events news program developed for and distributed via satellite to high school students nationwide.



Certifications and other coursework

- University of Wisconsin: Video Games and Learning (2013)

- IE Business School: Critical Perspectives in Management (2014)

- University of Pennsylvania: Gamification (2014)

- Case Western Reserve University: Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence (2014)

- Lithium Technologies: Communities Certification in Social Response (2016)


Strategic Planning for Publishing Executives

Stanford University Publishing Course

BA, Speech Communications (Broadcasting), Journalism

Otterbein College

Summa cum laude
Community cable television station manager, yearbook editor, literary magazine editor
One of 50 college students nationwide to serve as Am. Society of Magazine Editors intern


Professional Memberships

  • International Association of Business Communicators
  • Association of Women in Communications

Professional Development & Training

  • Speak Easy: Talk So People Listen

Honors and Awards

  • International Association of Business Communicators 4 Gold Quill Awards recognizing publications, publication design, audiovisual (2002-2008)
  • Association of Educational Publishers: numerous Distinguished Achievement awards for design and editorial development of periodicals (1991-2007) and podcast (2007), Golden Lamp Award winner (1996) finalist (2007)
  • Parents Choice Foundation Recognition for Periodicals (2005-2009)
  • Kid Power: Best Campaign in Media/Publishing (2005)

Volunteer Activities

  • USAA Corporate Communications Volunteer of the year (2006)
  • Junior Achievement teacher (2002-2007, 2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Read to Children program participant (2002-2017)
  • School Pen Pal program participant (2002-2015)
  • Holy Spirit Catholic Church Homeless Ministry member and newsletter editor (2005-2008)
  • San Antonio Food Bank Volunteer (2006-Present)


Augie Ray

"Julie was a life saver. At a time when social was quickly evolving and I was being spread thin as the leader of the social team, she entered the team, took charge, organized, helped, assisted others and demonstrated great leadership. She has a great sense of priorities and timelines, but also of people and their needs. Working with a young team, Julie quickly earned their trust (and mine) and helped them not just with their jobs but also in working toward their career goals. Julie has a candid, no-nonsense style that benefited the team and helped me to be successful in my job, as well."

(Social Media Thought Leader who worked with Julie at USAA)

Paul Soupiset

“I've been privileged to collaborate with Julie in several roles over the past seven or eight years. Her thought leadership — especially as it relates to well-conceived, intentional youth marketing, education and communications — is world class. She also brings writing and editing prowess, market knowledge, cross-channel communications expertise (print, online, interactive comprising both editorial- and marketing-centric content), and managerial leadership to the table. Did I mention Julie's a joy to work with?”

(Creative Services Director at Toolbox Studios who worked with Julie at USAA)

Rob Simons

"Julie is a very talented communications professional with a deep amount of expertise in multi-channel communications targeted at the youth segment. She understands how to tactfully balance the challenge of fulfilling corporate marketing expectations while serving the creative needs of a youthful audience. Julie is forward thinking and understands the challenges of the rapidly changing communications world. It's rare to find someone that grasps traditional print mediums and the multitude of online channels. I highly recommend Julie.”

(Creative Services Supplier President at Toolbox Studios who worked with Julie at USAA)

Scott Treadwell

“Julie Finlay is an accomplished professional with deep knowledge of her trade and a true passion for her work. She is also a person of impeccable character and integrity. I would work with Julie again without hesitation and recommend her for a suitable postion without reservation.” 

(Marketing Executive who worked with Julie at American Girl)