National Office Staff Employee Spotlight: Doug Church
We have an amazing National Office staff working each day to provide our members with the very best service and representation in organized labor. In this issue of the Insider, we feature Deputy Director of Public Affairs Doug Church, who is celebrating 20 years of service to NATCA. Thank you Doug!
Where are you from or what places have you lived?
Church: I was born in Indianapolis, but call Pittsburgh my original home. I lived there as a kid, and both of my parents were born and raised there and still live in Western Pennsylvania. I’ve also lived in the suburbs of San Antonio and Detroit, Columbia, Mo., and also in Bakersfield, Calif., and West Palm Beach, Fla. I currently live in Ellicott City, Md., outside Baltimore, with my wife Jenny Steffens, daughter Ellen (17), son A.J. (14), and English Bulldog Winston (2).
Where did you go to school or what other education do you have?
Church: I started at the University of Missouri and transferred to Michigan State University, from which I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
How did you come to work at NATCA?
Church: I decided to switch careers from sports journalism to public relations when I moved in 2000 to Washington, D.C., where Jenny, my fiancée at the time, was already living. With a lifelong love of airplanes, and having seen the movie, “Pushing Tin,” a career in air traffic control seemed really exciting until I learned of the age 31 hiring rule (I turned 31 in May of that year). Plan B was discovering that the controllers had a union, with an office in Washington, D.C. The same day I called the NATCA office to inquire about any job openings was the same day the communications director at the time was about to place an ad in The Washington Post for a media relations manager. It sure seemed like serendipity.
Do you have family members who are involved in unions?
Church: Yes, most notably a cousin who is a leader in a teachers union in Western Pennsylvania.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a member of NATCA’s staff? What’s the most challenging?
Church: The most rewarding part is working with such a dedicated, talented team of employees, both in our Public Affairs Department, and across the entire National Office, who are focused on providing NATCA members the very best representation in organized labor. Even this year, when we’ve done all of our work remotely since March, it has not deterred us from our mission. It has only made us more committed to doing the work of the membership. We are passionate about what we do and it’s because we know how passionate NATCA members are about their professions and their Union. Also, it’s a volunteer army of member activists that puts in so much work on their own time out of a deep love for what they are doing. That’s extremely inspiring to me and drives me to try and put even more effort into my work, knowing how important it is to the brothers and sisters we represent.
The most challenging thing, at the moment, is not being able to be at the National Office to work side by side with my fellow employees, and the members who travel to the office to do the work of the Union. We’ve overcome this in large part with great technology, but I do miss the camaraderie of in-person relationships and the work environment.
Do you have any hobbies or any other activities you enjoy outside of your work for NATCA?
Church: I love playing hockey, golf, and tennis – and watching all of those sports.
Has there been a favorite moment for you while at NATCA?
Church: I have been so immensely proud and honored to have been a part of the Archie League Medal of Safety Awards since we started the program in 2004. Each of the 15 awards banquets we’ve held thus far have been my favorite moments because they are the culmination of the large amount of teamwork of many people to produce the event. I always take time to look around the banquet room during the event and I see such joy and pride on everyone’s faces as these incredible stories are shared. That is supremely gratifying. Even more importantly, the awards are the well-deserved spotlights we get to shine on our members whose extraordinary efforts literally saved lives and raised their profession and the dedication to aviation safety to new heights. To a member, they always say they were just doing their job. But to the world outside NATCA, it is breathtaking work and awe-inspiring. Nothing gives me more pleasure than working to promote our award winners to the news media.