Finding Fulfillment in Giving Back

Photographic portrait of Callie Gisler.

Spend a few minutes getting to know Callie Gisler and you’ll quickly realize fear and doubt are simply not in her vocabulary. When Callie decided to start her own consulting practice, she traded all the unknowns and uncertainty for solutions and knowledge. She found successful women who became their own independent consultants and absorbed their advice and wisdom.

When she realized she needed a sleek new website, she learned how to do it. When she needed her first clients, she went out and earned them. When a pandemic blindsided the world in early 2020, she pushed and continued with plans for launching her new adventure without hesitation.

As you’re about to find out, Callie wasted no time in life becoming a leader and getting to know leaders along the way in her fast and successful career.

Callie’s story

Callie is the Principal and CEO of Coffeehouse Communications, focused on digital storytelling for purpose-driven small businesses and non-profits. Prior to that, she spent nearly five years as a communications manager for Willamette Humane Society in Salem. She served three years at the Vancouver office for global PR firm, The Hoffman Agency.

Callie is a PRSA Oregon board member this year and a co-director for the Membership Committee. She first became a PRSA member in Portland in 2014. Before that, she served as the chapter president for PRSSA at the University of Oregon where she majored in Journalism and Public Relations. She’s now the communications chair of PRSA national Independent Practitioner Alliance (IPA), fitting for an IPA beverage fan.

Of course, she also has a big heart for animals. She and her boyfriend have two of the cutest Corgis, who she calls her “puplick relations” coordinators.

What are you reading these days?

Traction, it’s a business book by Gino Wickman about an entrepreneurial operating system. It sums up business structures in six areas and helps business owners get streamlined. It’s all about helping you move forward toward business goals. It’s giving me a framework as I build my own business, and it’s super applicable for established businesses or someone who owns their own practice, a VP managing an office at a larger agency.

What’s your favorite hobby?

Photography outside of work. I couldn’t say I was a photographer by trade, but it became a necessity working with non-profit for years. You become a Jill of all trades. It’s also helpful in my quest to make my dogs famous. I spent a few hours for a hospitality client in wine country, going over cleaning protocols and onboarding of clients. I’ve become the designated photographer for these roles. It’s forced me to be present and appreciate the details in life.

Where would you travel right now if you could?

An old mentor of mine moved to Spain a couple of years ago. They took their three cats and a dog. She always told me, “I have an open room for you.” I studied a month in a small town in southern Germany. It was fun experiencing the culture and community at your own pace. That sort of small town life is such a stark difference from what we see here.   

What have you learned about yourself in quarantine?

The ability to do hard things. I got to the point where I was out of excuses. You figure out how to make it work. Being able to trust yourself to come up with solutions in the face of problems. We’ve seen it with the pandemic, social unrest, and the Oregon wildfires. There are times you stop and say, “I don’t know how I can get through this,” but you do.  

What’s a new interest you found during quarantine?

Creative writing. I’m also getting back into yoga and meditation. It made me feel good at one point and I let it go because I didn’t have time. We’ve also been so much better about cooking from home and revisiting recipes.

If you weren’t in communications, what’s another job that you thought about trying?

I would have become a career counselor for a college for graduating seniors or an executive career coach.

What has PRSA Oregon meant to your career?

I’ve found such a lovely community of people. The leadership opportunities and connecting with like-minded people who have the same levels of drive and motivation. We all have a lot going on but people who chose to take on these leadership roles, it takes a special type of commitment to your industry giving back and elevating each other’s work. It helped me connect to a wider community.

It’s also about the competence to pursue new opportunities thanks to mentorship. I found my mentor in Kathy Hubbell, an independent practitioner with more than 30 years of PR and marketing experience. That relationship that was able to validate and help reassure me. She’s an APR and Fellow PRSA Fellow, and a longtime instructor. I’m grateful for all her advice.

I’ve also tried to give back in the same way, connecting with students and mentoring them through our local universities and colleges. Mentorship is definitely a core value for me. PRSA has given me a lot of clarity and personal growth thanks to good quality people.

If you’re interested in meeting people like Callie and spending a little time volunteering with PRSA Oregon, just fill out this form. You can help us plan and promote an upcoming event, or connect with volunteers or mentors.

Shawn Floss spent several years leading internal communications and employee engagement for KinderCare Education and TriMet after more than a decade in journalism.

He volunteers for PRSA Oregon and served as a membership director. He’s also a part of the national executive committee for PRSA’s employee communications section.

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